You can find out more about Spandex at the book's official website.
Spandex leader Liberty heads off to rescue her captured team with the help of pretty much every hero in the Spandex universe, in an irreverent homage to the superhero crossover event. The problem is that superhero crossover events are almost never any good, and some of that general dearth of quality seems to have leaked through into this issue.
Don't get me wrong, this is still much, much better than the likes of Secret Invasion or Infinite Crisis, but it's not up to Martin Eden's usual high standards. The big casualty is the art; with so much going on, and so many characters to draw, some of Eden's old problems creep back in, with some wobbly anatomy evident in places. That said, Eden's flair for dramatic panel composition and clever storytelling remains strong; drawing the flashbacks in his older The O Men shaded style is a neat technique, for example.
We also get one of Eden's trademarked dramatic cliffhangers and it's an effective one, casting the whole series so far in a new light, but it is also undermined somewhat by a somewhat confusing build up. Without giving anything away, the cliffhanger itself is just fine, and I expect answers to be forthcoming next issue, but events leading up to that finale seem somewhat arbitrary and murky in terms of motivation and logic, and it makes for a somewhat unsatisfying read.
It would be churlish to complain about the big fight scenes in the first two-thirds or so of the comic, as they're well done and often funny — plus there's a very welcome cameo from the O Men — but there is the feeling that they've crowded out some details that would have made the finale a bit less vague. The end result is a comic that feels less like a chapter in a story, and more of an incomplete first half; as such, I expect the issue to be stronger when read together with the next, but as a single issue it feels almost unfinished. A double-length issue — or just a couple of bonus pages — may have been a better approach.
On the subject of bonuses, this issue comes with a random collectible trading card — again tying in with the big superhero crossover gimmick — and a four-page mini comic featuring Spandex's Japanese allies the J-Team; this extra comic is of course printed in greyscale and is read right-to-left, complete with a "Stop! You're reading this wrong!" cartoon on the first/last page. Although such extra materials don't add anything to the main comic, it's nice to see a creator go to such lengths to please and entertain his audience.
So Spandex #5 is not one of the stronger comics we've seen from Martin Eden, but it's still a solid bit of superhero storytelling. It's only in comparison with the title's normal level of quality that it falls a little — and only a little — short.
Kelvin Green erupted fully formed from the grey shapeless mass of Ubbo Sathla in the dark days before humans walked the earth. He grew up on Judge Dredd, Transformers, Indiana Jones #12, The Avengers and Spider-Man, and thinks comics don't get much better than FLCL, Nextwave and Rocket Raccoon. Kelvin lives among garbage and seagulls and doesn't hate Marvel nearly as much as you all think he does.