Review: Spider-Man Noir: Eyes Without a Face

Published on December 28th, 2010

For any of you guys out there who aren’t aware, Marvel has this whole series of books referred to as “Marvel Noir.” Most of these books (if not all) take place in the 1930’s and feature some of our favorite Marvel superheroes if they were around in that time. I was avoiding most of these books for a while. I didn’t care for X-Men Noir, and haven’t read Wolverine Noir or the first Spider-Man Noir. I did read Punisher Noir and Iron Man Noir and I enjoyed both of those. I do like how Spider-Man looks so I decided to pick up Eyes Without a Face and after reading it I decided to use it as the featured book for this week’s Trade Tuesday. Don’t you feel lucky?

spider-man-noirFortunately for me, the writers give enough information in this book for you to understand the series without having read the first one. At this point Spider-Man is established as the premiere vigilante in New York and has already taken out Norman Osborne. Without Osborn organized crime has lost most of its organization, but a new crime boss is in town and he’s out to prove who’s in charge by taking out anyone screwing up his plans. So Spider-Man’s off on his newest quest to find out who this Crime Master is and he starts off by going to Felicia Hardy who owns the Black Cat Nightclub. (clever huh?) She refuses to give out any information because of her stance on being neutral, but she’s willing to let Peter spend the night.

The next day Peter Parker meets with his pal Robbie Robertson, a struggling African American reporter who asks Peter to help him out get an interview with Dr. Otto Octavius, who in this world is confined to a wheel chair with all sorts of mechanical arms on it, he’s also a big old racist. The two go to interview Octavius and are shocked to see his experiments involving dissecting monkey brains while they’re alive. Peter is somewhat disturbed, but understanding of using monkeys as experiments. Robbie thinks there’s more going on, and after investigating on his own goes missing. Meanwhile Spider-Man is taking down another speak-easy, where he finds a secret room with chains on the wall. At first he ignores it, but when he finds out Robbie is missing he realizes the Crime Master has been kidnapping black people off the streets and he’s been using the speak-easy to keep them until moving them. Spider-Man recognizes the smell of formaldehyde on Sandman (The Crimemaster’s top henchman) and realizes the missing people are being taken to Octavius’ lab.

After a quick trip to recover from his injuries at Felicia’s place Spider-Man heads out to confront Octavius and rescue Robbie. It turns out Dr. Octavius has been experimenting on African Americans’ brains to remove their free will and turn them into obedient slaves as part of a larger Nazi conspiracy. Spider-Man busts in and rescue’s the kidnapped people, but when he finds Robbie it’s too late because he’s already been given a lobotomy. Filled with rage Spider-Man goes after the Crime Master and Octavius, when the police show up Spider-Man is ready to kill Octavius, but sadly he’s talked out of it. Octavius is is arrested and deported, and when he arrives in Germany his Nazi leaders dismiss him and his experiments because he is handicapped.

Wow. I was shocked at how much I liked this book. It’s a completely different take on Spider-Man, he’s a lot more aggressive and violent. When he takes out the speak-easy he crashes through the roof with a gun in each hand blasting away. This story was a lot darker than any Spider-Man story I’ve ever read, and on a personal note the thought of a lobotomy freaks me the Hell out. I mean this use of science is as evil as it gets. I wasn’t a huge fan of the art, I think I would have preferred something more gritty, I’d like to see Sean Phillips do this book. I even think that doing it in black and white might be an improvement. I was hooked the entire time I read this, and you should probably pick up a copy before it goes out of print. And you can pick it up at Amazon for only ten bucks and change.

Ken Zeider