BY MATT TUCK
Marvel uses the first appearance of Iron Man 3’s Harley Keener to sell copies of what is just an awful comic that tried its best to rip off Big Hero Six.
W.E.B. OF SPIDER-MAN #1
Written by Kevin Shinick
Art by Alberto Albuquerque
If I was 10 years old, I probably would have enjoyed this comic. Then again, I’d like to think I had better tastes when I was 10. W.E.B of Spider-Man #1 is clearly marketed for a very young demographic, and as a parent, I understand the need for kids’ comics. But this? This was just painful to read.
I am certain that everyone involved in making this comic is talented, but the truth is, this was not their best work. This is probably meant to establish the backstory for a W.E.B. of Spider-Man cartoon series on Disney+. Everything about it is like an episode of Ultimate Spider-Man or, even worse, Avengers Assemble. And not just any episode - a very bad episode of two bad shows. That is saying something.
Here’s the story. Tony Stark has recruited Peter Parker to join his Worldwide Engineering Brigade (you know, W.E.B.). He joins Onome from Wakanda, Devil Dinosaur’s Lunella Lafayette, and Squirrel Girl. The most interesting member of the W.E.B. is Harley Keener. Remember Harley? He was Tony’s very own Short Round in Iron Man 3 only to reappear at Iron Man’s funeral in Endgame. Maybe it’s just me, but I am not sure incorporating anything from arguably the worst movie in the MCU is the best idea.
Be that as it may, Harley makes his comic debut in the opening pages of W.E.B. alongside some spider-bots that would totally give away Peter’s secret identity. Yet, even in a room full of the current smartest people alive (that title shifts a lot in Marvel, if you haven’t noticed), no one pieces any of the tale-tell signs together.
Oh, and the robots take everything literally, so there’s all sorts of tired jokes springing up from there.
The major selling point is clearly Harley’s premiere. Marvel knows what sells comics: first appearances.
Even for the most mundane of characters, collecting that debut is all the motivation speculators and investors need to buy a new comic. In the current market, there is a new character practically every other week, but it’s the fear of missing out, FOMO for short, that keeps those issues selling. That is what will drive collectors to their local comic shops to buy this one in droves. It’s the fear that Harley Keener turns out to be the next Iron Man, and you missed the chance to buy his first appearance for cover price.
I completely understand that logic. Look at the prices for the debuts of Knull or Punchline and you can see why it’s so important to hope on the bandwagon at ground zero. If Harley gets a share of the spotlight, this issue is likely to skyrocket, at least temporarily. This issue is already selling for $15-$20 for the standard cover while the variant is earning about $25, and I get why; just don’t expect a good comic if you decide to give it a read.
Matt Tuck is the author of the novel, Lost Bones of the Dead. He is a professional writer, avid comic collector, former teacher, and an international man of mystery. You can follow him on his Facebook page, The Comic Blog.