Spider-Ham #1 Review

by Charles Martin on December 25, 2019

Spider-Ham #1 Review
Writer: Zeb Wells
Artist: Will Robson
Colourist: Erick Arciniega
Letterer: Joe Caramagna
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Peter Porker, the Spectacular Spider-Ham, is poised for a brilliant story. Comics-movie synergy works out nicely in Marvel's favour here. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse has introduced the character to a wide audience, and comics continuity is spooled up to draw them into Porker's on-page adventures pretty much seamlessly.

Spider-Ham is a Web Warrior, a defender of the multiverse, and as his local hero-peers the Sca-Vengers can testify, almost unbearably vain about that. Bragging on his otherworldly adventures turns him into a constant irritant during the team's fight to save New Yolk City from Moletron. The irritation continues as Peter heads home and scarfs down a pie Aunt Ham had intended for a church bake sale.

This is Peter Porker, then: A hero and also, in classic comedic tradition, a bit of a jerk. 

The plot that kicks off in the last act of this issue offers up both a reckoning and a chance for redemption. When an ominous grey portal starts draining the colour, humour, and cuteness-appreciation out of local heroes, the problem demands a dimension-hopping solution.

But Iron Mouse and his fellow Unhumanati are dead set against entrusting the fight to Spider-Ham. And they tell him exactly why in a whole page packed full of humbling criticism.

Of course, the comic's not called "Iron Mouse and the Unhumanati," so it's no surprise Porker ganks his dimension-hopping watch back and dives into the multiverse. As I said, a hero but also a bit of a jerk.

Zeb Wells bends his script into a wide-ranging and hilarious introduction not just to Spider-Ham but to his home dimension. Giving the hero this sort of thorough context will (hopefully!) add weight and tension to the story's conflict once it really gets rolling.

The writing also demonstrates a solid grasp of comedic principles. Mr. Wells has a great handle on Peter Porker's jerk-ishness, showcasing it in just such a way as to make him slightly terrible without making him unappealing.

The visuals are in the capable hands of Will Robson, one of Marvel's best artists for funny stories. He spends most of the issue fully submerged in Larval Earth's chunky, Saturday-morning-cartoon-esque design language, and he gets great mileage out of it. Actions and expressions are bold and easy to read, the animals are as cute as buttons, and the busy story hops smoothly from panel to panel.

Colourist Erick Arciniega ties it all together with a consistent palette. It bends heavily toward yellow overtones, bathing New Yolk City in a warm light that adds a distinctly retro ambiance. The slightly-faded look doesn't agree with my personal taste, but I don't think it hampers the visual storytelling (with one small possible exception -- these colours make Aunt Ham look a little washed-out).

This issue is prefaced with two pages from the old 80s Spider-Ham series, which provide a wonderfully ridiculous origin story for Peter Porker. They also set a good bar for the new series' tone -- silly, appealing to kids, but sharpened by an edge of adult humour. I'm happy to report this first issue goes sailing right over the bar.

Peter Porker is the Spectacular Spider-Ham, and also a bit of a jerk. That's why his fellow heroes of Larval Earth are aghast when he ganks the job of saving it from a multiversal threat, but the creators easily get us rooting for the swine. They bring Spider-Ham, and his whole world, to life with clean, endearing art and a smart all-ages script. Spider-Ham #1 is a rewarding read in itself and a strong inducement to follow the whole series.

Our Score:


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Charles Martin's picture
I have it on the comic's own authority that "gank" is a technical term (synonymous with "yoink") for swiping something you shouldn't.