Although recently the amount of gay and lesbian characters on movies and TV have increased, comics and the comic book industry are making strides to catch up. In the past few years alone a number of monumental events took place: Northstar married his long term non-superhero boyfriend Kyle, Hulkling and Wiccan of Young Avengers have an established and longstanding relationship, Batwoman’s orientation as a lesbian was confirmed.
If you’ve read my multiple Night Vale articles as well as my review of HBO’s Looking, it may appear that my standards for gay and lesbian characters in the media is astronomically high. In truth, I am not a fan of flat and stereotypical characters with little depth. Such characters are more prevalent in television and movies, but with comic books there is an opportunity to stretch the backstory of a character over multiple issues and series.
So I was excited when I learned that a relatively new superhero comic focused entirely on LGBT characters. Spandex follows a group of English characters (who all wear some form of spandex) on missions throughout England and Japan. But after reading, the only thing I felt was… meh.
The story begins as if readers had known the characters and their personalities for years. Very little is given in terms of introduction or exposition, which is typical of big team-ups. However, with large superhero groups like the Avengers or the Justice League (or the approximately 8 million branches of each team) the characters have their backstories long established. With so little information given about each character in Spandex, it was difficult to become attached.
The artwork of the comics was, personally, a turn-off for me. Maybe I have been spoiled too much by the polished work of guys like Alex Maleev and David Aja, but the artwork of Spandex appears a bit amateur. Compare this, for instance…
I will be the first to admit that I have the artistic ability of a broken ceiling fan. The fact that I can write my own name legibly is a feat in and of itself. But Spandex‘s art was difficult to plow through. The pages are busy and flat, with hardly any shading.
Recently a third issue was released that I have yet to read, so there’s a strong possibility that many of my criticisms are obsolete. The ideas behind Spandex are fantastic; the execution of those ideas falls flat. Overall, Spandex needs quite a bit of work.