Ever since Brian Michael Bendis announced that Spider-Woman was part of his New Avengers line-up, fans have reacted with an almost unanimous cry of ‘Spider-Woman??!!’ but that has not stopped Bendis who firmly believes that the character deserves better exposure on the printed page.
Introduced in the 1970′s by Archie Goodwin, Sal Buscema and Jim Mooney, Spider-Woman has always been an odd character. Convoluted history (both the mythical mountain of Wungador and Hydra feature prominently in her tangled web of genesis) and questionable status (she’s not really related to Spider-Man in any way) have hampered her success in the past, but Bendis’ insistence to place her on the most important team book Marvel publishes has put her at the tip of the fan boy mind. The fact that Spider-Woman was revealed to be a secret Skrull infiltrator (the Queen no less!) only makes her more important to Marvelites the world over.
Her new series hitting the shelves this April by Bendis and star collaborator Alex Maleev (both of whom teamed up for an award-wining Daredevil run) will also be accompanied by a motion comic created especially to take advantage of both the character’s new prestige and the wonders of the motion comic itself. A few of you may be familiar with this recent invention that has included such high profile comics as Astonishing X-Men, Batman: Black and White and the Watchmen, but all of those projects use still images from the original static works.
The Spider-Woman motion comic, however, will be something entirely new.
Because of it’s digital motion aspects, Bendis is writing “Spider-Woman” in a completely different style from his other books. “I had just written the pilot to ‘Powers,’ and I had written a pilot for HBO. So I was writing in this television motif, and when it was time to start writing these things, I thought, ‘Well I could go back to comics script format, but me and Alex have been working together for almost 10 years and know our comic book bones pretty well.’ So I focused this material as episodic scripts.” Bendis explained. “I’ll notate what would happen in the comic book. Like there will be side notes saying, ‘This will be a double page spread.’ or ‘This is a half page spread.’ But I’ve really focused on the language of these ‘mobi-sodes’ So it’s written very differently. I’ve written ten episodes so far.”
“Spider-Woman” is Alex Maleev’s second digital motion project. It’s the added dimensions of sound and movement that make the digital motion format so compelling for the artist. “It’s an enormous challenge, as we have to fit the animation within certain borders,” Maleev said. “I don’t expect smooth sailing, but as everything before, we always managed to pull it off. I am looking forward to solving the puzzle.”
Maleev feels that there isn’t just one or two particular elements that made “Spider-Woman” right for the digital motion medium. “As an artist, I look at it from a visual point of view, her costume and colors, guest appearances, locations, time, weather, all of it will be interesting to animate,” the artist stated. “It’s not the character alone, it’s the whole project that seems right for the job.”
The “Spider-Woman” digital motion comics are being designed with the intent to move, and providing the art for them is a slightly different process then creating art for a standard print comic. “The episodes are broken down in storyboard format and drawn in pieces, or layers. The backgrounds are separate and some will be in 3-D,” Maleev explained. “More or less what I’d do for the regular comic, but this time I have to think of how to animate it and keep the viewer intrigued.”
To create the “Spider-Woman” digital motion comics Maleev has to be more than just an artist, he also has to wear the hat of a director as well. “It is difficult, because the responsibilities are greater. I am comfortable providing a comic book on a monthly basis and still have time off,” Maleev stated. “This project will keep me swamped and grounded for a long, long time. But being finally behind the camera and yelling ‘action’ is the cherry on top of the cake. (It’s not as romantic as you imagine; we sit in a studio full of computers and glare at the screen for hours).”
More of a cult comic book super heroine to be sure, the return of this character to the covers of Marvel Comics has resulted in a striking visual, perhaps due to the combo of vivid costume colors and the fact that Spider-Woman basically looks like a naked shapely woman painted red. Let this be a lesson to comic book creators the world over, if you cannot make your character easily understandable at least make her visually interesting.
The new Spider-Woman will be hitting comic shops and iTunes in two months.