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‘Spider-Man: Marvels Snapshot #1’ (review)

Written and Illustrated by Howard Chaykin
Published by Marvel Comics

 

Marvel Comics continues their Marvels Snapshots spiritual sequels with a Spider-Man installment.

How could you build on Spider-Man, when 1994’s original Marvels already did so much with him?

What could make me want to read more of that?

Well, it’s simple, really: Hire Howard Chaykin to write and draw it.

That story, “Dutch Angles,” takes Spider-Man’s world and throws in some dashes of Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman.

We’re not here for the big boys, but those small-time hoods off to the side. The ne’er-do-wells who, frankly, didn’t do well in the crime game. The ones who never got made and were too lucky – or unremarkable – to not get killed, either.

Thus goes the tale of Victor “Dutch” Hollander and his buddy Ronnie.

The story opens on the pair having boosted an ATM and walking down some subway tracks. Well, they’re walking, but the hunk of machinery is floating in mid-air, thanks to some power gloves Ronnie rented from supervillain gadget man The Tinkerer.

But just when the getaway feels oh so near, Spider-Man and Silvermane crash through a wall. Shrapnel from the fight shreds the ATM, and cash flies everywhere like the bag of cash on the tarmac at the end of The Killing.

You gotta love Ronnie’s blasé manner when the supers arrive.

Full of street gossip, Ronnie describes the mechanical-looking man as a longtime mob boss, “but I guess he’s a robot now.”

Dutch is freaking out that Silvermane is here to murder them, and Spider-Man will thwart the robbery and capture them. But they don’t even see the two hoods or notice the ATM spewing cash.

Similar to The Irishman, too, this New York feels like one from 40 years ago, a New York that Chaykin – born in Newark, N.J., and raised in Queens and the Bronx – definitely lived in. May have known some Victors and Ronnies, too, or been either of them himself.

Chaykin’s art retains his signature comic book-y yet grubby texture that makes it all feel a little more real.

These are definite Chaykin guys: a little greasy, maybe, whom you can nearly smell come off the page.

The battles between these clubs of super criminals and self-appointed crime fighters in 1980s-ish New York has the feel of Miami in those “cocaine cowboys” times. A bustling metropolis teeming with this bonkers criminal activity that can pop up, break out, or crash through your window at any moment.

While crowds run toward Falcon and Electro duking it out over rooftops, Dutch is sick of this “super crap” and how it changed crime. He’d love to retreat to the days when the only fantastical creatures came from pop fiction and model kits.

Dutch has a knack for building those polystyrene monsters. The models crowd every flat surface of his apartment, and posters of them line the walls. What’s more, the dream of being Hollywood’s next Ray Harryhausen or Stan Winston still flickers before his eyes.

Will Dutch find his way to that dream?

Or will his small-time criminal life, and his attachment to Ronnie, get the best of him?

If only he’d listen to main squeeze Vivi, who also happens to be Ronnie’s sister.

The naturalistic color palette from Jesus Aburtov suits this tale, which plays out mostly on the ground, in Manhattan nightclubs, small apartments and sidewalks.

Enjoy this one for those New York details, folks. Isn’t that one of the great things about the Marvel Universe, after all? It’s something we don’t really get in the movies, unfortunately. The comics still win for that atmosphere.

Chaykin frames much of the story with talk radio and TV conversations. And, like a true New Yorker, much of that chatter is about how crummy the traffic’s gonna get.

 

 

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