At some point during my regular reviews of Martin Eden's excellent small press comic Spandex, I am guaranteed to use the words "best issue yet". So let's get it out of the way right now, shall we? Spandex #6 is the best issue yet, once more proving that it's "gay superheroes" gimmick is anything but, and delivering more action, characterisation and hip, sarcastic dialogue than most comics these days manage in a 6 issue run. Because of the splash-page heavy, four or five panels per page, drag everything out to fill a 6-book trade way that many modern comics are produced, I often feel guilty as a writer if I ask an artist to draw more than 6 panels on one page or write more than two balloons' worth of dialogue per panel. Martin shows us how such things are still possible (without ever overcrowding a page) and because he's both artist and writer on this book, he delivers some outstanding sequences. 10 panels on the opening page, yet it's a thing of beauty. Elsewhere, a 17 panel fight scene - on one page. God, if you'd given that to Bryan Hitch, he'd have filled an entire issue with it. And would it have told the story any better than Martin does here? I sincerely doubt it.
Speaking of story, the latest Spandex certainly packs that in too. From a dramatic showdown between our eponymous heroes and their evil rivals, Les Girlz, to some wonderful origin / backstory pages, to a tense build-up to a climax that gives extra meaning to the titles of both the overall story arc ('O.M.F.G.') and this issue itself ('Deus Ex Machina'). It's the kind of bold, audacious WTF!? moment that only Grant Morrison used to be able to pull off, but Martin Eden gives it both barrels. I am blown away.
Better still, this issue comes with three free mini comics showcasing Martin's versatility as a writer (horror, humour and manga) and the work of three great guest artists, T'sao Wei, Garry McLaughlin and good old Rob Wells. Even more bang for your buck.
The only downside to the latest Spandex was Martin's announcement that issue #7 will be the last. NOooooooooOOOOoooo! Still, it's always good to quit while you're ahead, and I've been reading Martin's comics long enough to know that whatever comes next... it'll be brilliant.
Find out more about Spandex, and buy them all here. Go do that thing now.