Review by Frank Plowright
Of all the experimental pulp crime Noir titles set in the 1930s, only the X-Men and Spider-Man merited a second outing, testament to the dingy atmosphere delivered by the creators the first time round. The writing team of David Hine and Fabrice Sapolsky and artist Carmine di Giandomenico all return for Eyes without a Face, as does the surviving supporting cast.
The cast is broadened here as the writers turn their attention to the unsavoury matter of eugenics, re-imagining Dr Otto Octavius as a wheelchair-bound scientist with a barbaric manner of experimentation. There’s also an acknowledgement of New York’s wider ethnic population, as the Robertson family make their appearance, and there’s also a brief cameo for Mary-Jane Watson.
The previous volume saw the Goblin deposed as New York’s crimelord, and six months on a masked successor called the Crime Master stakes his claim for the position with the shocking statement of murdering all the Goblin’s lieutenants and leaving their corpses together in theatre seats. It makes for a gruesome image, but then much of this tale is gruesome, even for an iteration of Spider-Man deliberately marketed with a noir theme.
Peter Parker has evolved as Spider-Man in the few months since the previous series, and has become quite a brutal avenger in response to the atrocities he encounters. Spider-Man using a machine gun is a distinctly odd sight, as he is dressed in black under a slouch hat, and neither is he the wise-cracking web-slinger of the present day.
There are some fine touches, particularly an unpleasant conclusion set in Nazi Germany, but this is more a diverting read than screaming out for a place on the bookshelf. It’s reprinted in larger format along with its predecessor and Marvel Noir: Punisher as Marvel Noir: Spider-Man/Punisher.