Marvel Knights Spider-Man "Fight Night"
is the collected edition of the recent five-issue miniseries under the old Marvel Knights banner; two other similar limited series featuring the Hulk and the X-Men were also released at the time. For whatever reason I didn’t pick it up when it was first released as single issues, but I got to read it recently.
I must start by saying I’m glad I didn’t pay for it.
The entire thing is five issues of Spider-Man being forced to fight ninety nine villains across a multitude of environments because.... well, just because. Most of them are villains he’s well familiar with, though I wasn’t keeping track of numbers, and towards the end, with him taking on several at a time, the art isn’t detailed enough to really add them all up anyway.
The whole thing is a mess. That’s probably being generous. The story plays out like a videogame more than anything else, with Peter running the gauntlet of enemies (with at least one of them not acting like himself, another one who hasn’t been a villain in many years - as a fan of the Thunderbolts, I never want to see MACH VII reverted to villainy, thank you very much). It pays no regard to continuity; we’re left to speculate who’s under this mask or that mask; if the Beetle who appears here is indeed Abe Jenkins and not just someone else wearing the armour, that doesn’t fit in with the presence of a much more recent character, the Queen, who turned up in the Spider-books before that Brand New Day
Even if it’s not meant to be in continuity, the writing is still a mess. An abomination of a mess. Characters don’t act like themselves. The most glaring example is the Owl, who for some reason helps the web-spinner at one point; anyone familiar with the Owl would know that even if he’s being used by others and knows that for a fact, he wouldn’t pass on a chance to kill one of his enemies. The writing, by far, is the worst aspect of this series, which feels lifeless, preposterous, and pointless.
A look at Matt Kindt’s previous work in the industry shows little that I’m familiar with. The only work he’s done for Marvel was one of the Age of Ultron
tie-ins, for Wolverine and the X-Men. I don’t know if he simply didn’t care about what he was writing, if he was told to write this under threat... maybe in another genre he’d be in his element, but this... this is a pile of refuse. This came across as one of the worst, if not the worst comic series I have ever seen. And ultimately it’s on him... because the problems are all coming from the writer’s side of thing. The butchering of story, characterization, and history, the pointlessness of the entire thing, that’s his fault.
Marco Rudy does the art, with colors by Val Staples, and at least Rudy has less of the blame for this debacle. His style of art is moody and dreamlike, but also derivative, at least in this series. Many of the pages have a broken glass, panels in strange formations sensibility to them; others feel like spider webs. Peter has been drugged, so he’s not seeing things quite as they should be, and that’s the way Rudy works throughout the series. I’ve seen this done to good effect elsewhere - Batwoman as a series has tended to be outside the box in terms of structuring panels and splash pages, and it gets the job done right. I tend to think it’s more the problem of the writer telling the artist the way he wants the pages to look, though. Rudy has a pretty extensive history in the industry, particularly in Swamp Thing. I’ve seen his work in a New Avengers Annual, and he’ll be involved in the new Bucky Barnes: Winter Soldier series. As muddled as the art tends to be here, the art really is not the problem with the series.
It might well be that this exercise in stupidity was mandated from higher up and Kindt was merely the fall guy told to write it. The limited series just ends up coming across like a pointless videogame, with no life, no soul, nothing to recommend it. In the end, the blame must come down on the writer, who made this whole thing such a dreadful disaster.
Avoid this mess at all costs. Trust me.