Spandex: Fast and Hard
Publisher: Titan Books
Writer: Martin Eden
Artist: Martin Eden
Colorist: Martin Eden
Brighton, South England is the the gay capital of the UK, as this book points out at the very beginning. Spandex is about the Brighton-based super-team consisting of a variety of LGBTQ superheroes.
The team is led by Liberty (representing the white light of the spectrum of colors combined, or is she violet? I thought it was dropped from the spectrum, but others are saying she could be that) who has a power-suit and gaydar which is used like a danger-sense. Liberty is really Jason Ford, and seems to be manipulating the team to maintain its rainbow-color theme to power something in a variety of mysterious ways.
The Prowler, Kristian Reyes (representing blue in the spectrum, and also my favorite character), has the power to absorb the powers and skills of nearby gay people. This is super handy and allows for so many story ideas, I love it. He has a tail as well, though I’ll get back to that later.
Diva, Isabelle Shaw (representing red and always surrounded by stars), is stated to be like Wonder Woman, but is also a lesbian. Diva’s secret identity seems to be transforming into a less glamorous woman, and the two have some opposing ideas.
Indigo, Indigo Lormain (guess her color), has the power to create portals to an indigo dimension that is a room with all sorts of useful tools and weapons, and can also allow for teleportation. Think of the waiting room from the Matrix, but in indigo; she’s super useful.
Butch, Joanie Jones (green in the spectrum), is a quiet and tough as hell woman who seems to be unknowingly sleeping with the enemy. She’s described as being a lady Luke Cage; that is the way you sell me on a character, folks.
Mr. Muscle, Jim Jones (yellow of the spectrum and twin brother to Butch), was formerly Bear-Man of Bear-Man and Twinkle, but SPOILERS sadly dies at the end of the first issue from a sniper shot.
Glitter, Luke Smithers (representing orange, and formerly known as Twinkle of Bear-Man and Twinkle), is able to turn into pure energy, along with other light based powers. Pretty much Negative Man and Human Torch rolled into one entity, but with a hell of a lot of courage and willpower shown.
Then finally, there is Neon, Miochi (the new representation of yellow), who is a capable swordsman and acrobat. Originally a Japanese superhero who belonged to a super-team that broke up years prior.
The book contains three issues, each with their own adventure that can be read on its own, but also works for an overarching story line. The art in this is very bright; Eden’s style is simple but conveys what the characters are feeling with ease. The style reminds me of indie comics from the 1990s, and I mean that in the best way. I felt like a kid again reading these, watching our heroes get into adventures that were as strange as they were dangerous. The color rightfully has a huge role to play in telling the story of a rainbow colored team. The book is so bright, I think it could glow at a low intensity.
The first story features a classic B-movie monster with a battle against the 50-foot lesbian. The story is silly enough, but with a conspiracy of villains keeping it from being too goofy. That’s another thing I noticed Eden was capable of doing; he can take something from light-hearted to heart-breakingly sad in just a few pages, but not in an exploitative way like in many modern comics.
The second issue has the team travel to Japan after a mysterious thief leaves them clues to follow. They end up being attacked by pink ninjas, and also meet their new teammate, Neon. This issue provides more insight into the conspiracy not from the villains, but in whatever it is Liberty is doing to maintain the team. This issue also goes from wild fun action with everyone fighting a plethora of ninjas, to a man killing the man he once loved. Again, able to go from light to dark in a moment, while keeping things balanced. The book can handle some very violent materials or just plain scary moments.
This is felt especially in the third issue, which reads as much as a bleak horror story as it does a superhero book. The issue deals with depression and the hopelessness it can lead to, and it’s different in tone from the other two issues. The thing I liked most about it, was that while it was about depression, it also brought up the power of hope and help. The list of things worth feeling happy for made me crack a smile.
If I haven’t made it apparent enough, I really dig this book and want more. Oh! There was a part that tripped me up, when Prowler’s naked butt appears, and his tail comes from further down his butt than a tail should be. My first thought was, “How does he go to the bathroom?” That’s my only real gripe with the book. That and I crave more issues; I want to know more about the conspiracies going on, more about the characters’ pasts, presents, and futures. The book has some nudity and sexuality, if that’s an issue for you, but the bloody violence is more objectionable with how deadly it is when compared to the sexual content. Check out Spandex; I’m eagerly awaiting for more issues to come.
Review copy provided by Titan Publishing.