Josh Wilding Reviews: SPANDEX: FAST AND HARD By Martin Eden

Spandex: Fast and Hard goes on sale in the UK tomorrow and on Tuesday in the US from Titan Books. You can read my review of Martin Eden's graphic novel, which tells the story of the world's first all-gay superhero team, right here.

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By Josh Wilding - 6/14/2012
Prowler, Liberty, Glitter, Indigo, Butch, Mr Muscles, Diva — all superpowered, all British, and the first all gay super-hero team there ever was! Created by independent creator Martin Eden, Spandex charts the highs and lows of a group of Brighton-based heroes, doing battle with 50-foot lesbians, a group of deadly pink ninjas, as well as their own complicated love lives! Packed with pop culture references, nods to classic comics and chock-full of humour and drama, Spandex is a super-hero book like no other! This is the very first collection of Martin Eden’s award-nominated comic and collects Spandex #1-3, plus bonus material!



If the reaction from some comic book fans to the announcement of Northstar and Kyle's wedding in the pages of Marvel's Astonishing X-Men #51 is anything to go by, Spandex won't appeal to everyone. And that's a damn shame. The hardcover contains the first three issues of the series and writer/artist Martin Eden does a fantastic job of creating some genuinely interesting characters. The fact that the entire team is gay obviously plays a prominent part in the series, and this (along with the UK setting) makes for a refreshing change. These are characters who are open with their sexuality and it makes them all the more interesting and ultimately feels far less forced and contrived than their mainstream counterparts (Teen Titans member Bunker anyone?).

The first two issues are fantastic. The second suffers from a slightly bizarre sub-plot about Ninjas, but that reaches a satisfying enough conclusion and there's going on elsewhere to make them both a solid read. While there's plenty of spectacle in the form of the team taking on a fifty foot lesbian and some great plot twists, Spandex truly excels when it comes to character work. Whether it's seeing how Liberty manipulates the team or a scene which sees two team members (of the opposite sex) sleeping together, a fantastic story begins to take shape despite a few minor hiccups along the way.

Unfortunately, the third chapter skips forward in time and tells a very strange story which kills the momentum which began in the first two. It still makes for a good read and seems to hold a fairly meaningful message, but it feels as if it comes out of nowhere. It's a story which feels as if it would have been better off told in a much later issue, after we've had time to get to know the characters a little better. It's somewhat frustrating that the plot threads weaved throughout the first two issues (those mentioned above and the introduction of the villainous "Lez Girls" team for example) are suddenly dropped.

Spandex is full of brilliant characters. There's more to all of them than meets the eye, whether it's Diva's big secret (she's described by Eden as a lesbian Wonder Woman) or twist as to who really lies behind Liberty's mask. The art may not appeal to everyone, but this simplistic style works wonderfully here. As you might have guessed, it's aimed at a mature audience, but there's nothing explicit enough to put off any prudes. I can't pretend that this is a book I would have bought myself, but I'm glad I ended up being sent a copy to review because I now eagerly anticipate continuing the adventures of these characters in the next volume.

A throuroughly entertaining and enjoyable read, Spandex is a comic which deserves to reach a wide audience. Whether you're gay or straight is completely irrelevant - it's just a damn good book.



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30 Comments
DanteSparda - 6/14/2012, 9:58 AM
Kind of cool that is a full gay super hero team, but seriously the art sucks and almost everyone looks like a rip-off of other superheroes(i.e. Dazzler, Human Torch, Nico Minoru, Shadowcat, etc.).
SHHH - 6/14/2012, 10:16 AM
What SuperArgo Said...
DanteSparda - 6/14/2012, 10:17 AM
I hope you're next SuperArgo
Zounds - 6/14/2012, 10:29 AM
Is every single facet of the LGBT community about their sexuality that no arena is safe from their incessant rant?

Spandex:Fast and Hard...Now on sale kiddies. Awesome.

KidDynamo0 - 6/14/2012, 10:42 AM
Hey look another thread were homophobic comicbookmovie readers get to spew their hate for the LGBT folks! I don't get why anyone would bother poster anything that is thought provoking on this site...
Minato - 6/14/2012, 10:42 AM
Lol you actually reviewed this
Minato - 6/14/2012, 10:47 AM
......... for Gusto
The14thAvenger - 6/14/2012, 10:51 AM
When was gusto banned!? And what's stopping him just returning under a new name? Superheroes do that all the time!
paptschik - 6/14/2012, 10:52 AM
What is so contrived about Bunker? He is such a refreshing character in that he is a) incredibly positive, happy, energetic, he's like a Blue Beetle or Kid Flash and b) his sexuality is brought so so little, it's glorious!
He's gay, nobody cares, he's just in the story and a fun character, the end. Isn't that a good thing? I really don't see anything forced about it. Hell, in the last bunch of issues you could argue that it looked like he was a straight guy that they were setting up for a romance with Solstice (or that new female character...Skitter).
While the stories of Teen Titans haven't been so strong, I think Bunker deserves credit for being way more a character that happens to be gay than people make him out to be.
MartianSupermanhunter22 - 6/14/2012, 10:55 AM
Why is gusto gone? Someone explain please.
supersayen - 6/14/2012, 10:59 AM
is the Critic REALLY going to give a critical review on this one? So let's just give them a nice pat on the head and say "good for you for being gay". Is it me or is this more about being gay than about being a superhero?
ralfinader - 6/14/2012, 11:09 AM
So, which one of them is Green Lantern?
Super12 - 6/14/2012, 11:24 AM
@supersayen - well said
LAXtremest - 6/14/2012, 11:39 AM
What happened to Gusto???
BlindLemonShemp - 6/14/2012, 11:43 AM
LOL! @TEA! Awesome bud!

but seriously.... Spandex: Fast and Hard? you can't really blame the people making fun of this... i mean, how can you NOT?! sorry, LGBT groups, but hilarious things like this only set you back...

Fast and Hard... no, that's not subliminally trying to get kids to turn gay or anything.... maybe the sequel will be Fast Five... the gangbanng issue..

sorry.. couldnt resist... but damn.... really?!
BlindLemonShemp - 6/14/2012, 11:46 AM
and im pretty sure Stubbz hired Mr. Muscles for his one-man halloween party last year...
Godzillafart - 6/14/2012, 11:53 AM
Is Zounds just trollin' or is he a for-real bigot?
ISleepNow - 6/14/2012, 12:08 PM
Appropriate thread for such gay commentary as the aboves
BlindLemonShemp - 6/14/2012, 12:23 PM
Thank god the nazis havent stormed in yet calling everyone who doesnt love it to pieces a bunch of 'homophobic bigots' for not liking one little thing that happens to feature LGBT characters
Talontd - 6/14/2012, 12:30 PM
WTF!!!! Gusto was banned?!?! For what???
KingLing - 6/14/2012, 12:34 PM
The art looks like it was done by an artistic 6 year old... it's alright, but still drawn by a 6 year old.
marantaz - 6/14/2012, 1:45 PM
Yeah.. well... no, no thanks.

Hey, I've got an idea for a super hero... he's a Catholic Priest, and he has special powers given to him by GOD, but his conflict is that he can't bring himself to beat the living crap out of other Priest that he knows are pedophiles... and GOD won't answer him when he wants to know if it's wrong.

Yeah, it's stupid, huh? Makes absolutely no sense, huh? Well, so's this. . . stupid nonsense.

Bring back Gusto, and bring back the boobs.
JasonCYates - 6/14/2012, 3:05 PM
And y'all thought DC COMICS turning NEW 52 Alan Scott Gay was a silly Gimmick:p
supersayen - 6/14/2012, 4:14 PM
This looks like one of those super hero books they invent to help kids deal with problems, like Captain Tummy Ache.
supersayen - 6/14/2012, 4:15 PM
I won't tolerate intolerance.
supersayen - 6/14/2012, 4:16 PM
Ya see what I did there?
ThatOneDude - 6/14/2012, 11:38 PM
Ok so A)Gusto was banned? that's a bunch of bullshit
B) I could see Gusto being French
Zounds - 6/14/2012, 11:48 PM
@ KidDynamo0 - Have the courage to address me specifically if you're going to occasion an accusation of prejudice and hate. Baseless as it is, your opinion is just a little opportunistic. My criticism if left only to the title, speaks to a seemingly subversive agenda to introduce certain themes as normal in a medium traditionally and presently still aimed at children. You don't know what my position is within the LGBT community, if I have family members, or friends, or colleagues, or if I've had this very discussion with them. So please, spare me your Stepford civil rights sense of indignation, and: "I don't get why anyone would bother poster anything that is thought provoking on this site... " ??? Invest in reading a little more that you may opine a touch more clearly.

+++

@Godzillafart - Given that it appears (and not just from your moniker) that you have about as much mental dexterity as C3P0 has physical dexterity, your options of "just trollin'" or "for real bigot" speak to the same kind of thoughtless opportunism, KidDynamo0 chose to champion.

"Trollin'"? Nah, sport. I'm fully invested in the conversation and in the greater discussion of content, integrity of the medium (you know, comic books)and appropriate target audiences. If that's too nuanced a discussion, then by all means, in your world, render me a bigot...but not against the gay community...render me a bigot against the celebration of idiocy.

Like the ACLU, or any other "movement" the message is sometimes lost for sensationalism. And if you think that's sensational, you haven't spoken with many mature patrons in the community who don't feel the need to make every single opportunity for sexual innuendo as an accurate representation of identity count.

I'm from Toronto, I have relatives who live near College Station, and in conversations such as these share with those who nod in agreement around a table that people like Rick Mercer who are simply good at their craft without having to invoke Judy Garland and Hairspray are the ideal because their ability and integrity aren't measured by how many times they throw a pair of leather chaps on.


+++

@supersayen - If you think "Fast and Hard" is equivocal to Captain Tummy Ache, then more's the reason for you and KidD and Godzilla to study the difference in the loose definition listed above.

The intolerance of intolerance is still intolerance. The difference is in being brave enough to prioritize what's intellectually defensible and what's merely stupidly offensive.

Because not all opinions hold equal weight believe it or not. And some hold more than any three combined.

See what I did there?

- Zounds

BlindLemonShemp - 6/15/2012, 6:33 PM
Damn! That was like a verbal line-up 'Three Stooges' Tri-Slap... well executed and hilarious
Zounds - 6/15/2012, 7:57 PM
@BlindLemonShemp - Thanks. I wish there was opportunity for a Tri-Tri-Slap truthfully.

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