Spider-Man: Torment (2009)
“Come sit, my little one. Lull yourself into a false sense of security. Let your mind relax and your soul become vulnerable.”
In the fight that ensues, the sorceress makes Spider-Man believe he killed The Lizard by impaling it. He wakes up and believes he sees Kraven The Hunter, who is supposed to be dead, so at this point the is losing his mind. This is a good psychological thriller of a graphic novel, a theme McFarlane does well. I feel as though I have a greater connection to Spider-Man because of this type of complexity. Also, Mary Jane is away dancing at a nightclub. She too. Worries that Spider-Man won’t come back.
Spider-Man in this story has a triple threat. He’s got to save Dr. Connors AKA bring the humanity out in The Lizard, restore his grip on reality affected by the spell (DOOMDOOMDOOM.) and save himself. Eventually, through sheer force of will he is able to rescue himself from the burning building, and barely make it home in one piece, but the fate of The Lizard seems uncertain. McFarlane does well illustrating how bloody and tattered the fight left Spider-Man…The Lizard finally swims up from deep below the sewers, with one word: DOOM.
It’s Todd McFarlane, so obviously there’s a lot of dark spaces and blood. He shows you each panel almost bit by bit, so you don’t know what’s creeping around the corner. A recurring theme is “…RISE ABOVE IT!” which ends the intros to each of stories in the collection!
This applies to location as well as psychology. While DOOM lurks below in the sewers, Spider-Man swings above him and confronts him finally in a warehouse. Also, he has to rise above the sorceress’s (Calypso’s) mental control, and physical pain through the poison. But, for a while it looks like he might not make it…(Spoilers, I guess?)
Spider-Man: Torment is a neat graphic novel that actually starts off kind of funny (and what would Spider-Man be without jokes?) and then delves into mind control, murder, and anxiety. It has a pretty good story, despite working with second-tier villains. As usual per McFarlane, it’s very affecting both in art and psyche, but that’s what a good comic does: It stays with you.
Lots of buildup, a useless Mary Jane subplot, and second-tier villains kind of make it hard to get through, but as I understand it, The Lizard wasn’t McFarlane’s first choice…the other villains all had other stories going at the time. This gets a 2-star rating from me. It’s really McFarlane’s art that draws me in.