Comics : Spider-Man: Breakout #1

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This review was first published on: 2005.

Background...

In the first two issues of The New Avengers, Electro breaks into the Raft Supermax Prison and lets loose the super powered inmates within. Where do these villains go after breaking out?

In Detail...

Spider-Man: Breakout #1
Jun 2005 : SM Title
Editor:  Axel Alonso
Writer:  Tony Bedard
Pencils:  Manuel Garcia
Inker:  Raul Fernandez
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 Reprinted In: Spider-Man: Breakout (TPB)

The issue opens two years before the Breakout in New Avengers, at the Vault. Vector and his U-Foes, Vapor, X-Ray and Ironclad have prepared to breakout of the Vault with Crossfire and his crew. Crossfire returns from an intereview with the Program Administrator, telling his crew and the U-Foes that he just sat in a holding cell, until released. Immediately after Crossfire's return, Vector is called to the Program Administrator's office, where Captain Backus informs Vector that his plans for breakout are known, and that he and his crew will be put in administrative segregation, and after that will be transferred to The Raft. Vector, furious, swears that he will kill Crossfire as retribution for ratting on their escape plans, no matter how long it takes...

Flash forward to the break-out at the Raft. Crossfire gathers his gang and persuades them to follow him to an emergency transport off the island, to avoid being recaptured. Crossfire reveals to his gang that he knows who betrayed them back at the Vault, and it wasn't Vector, who they thought was the traitor.

Shortly after the Breakout, and after Peter's joining of the New Avengers, Mary Jane and Peter discuss what he's to do about the escaped super-villains, and he goes out on his own, not wanting to drag the others along with him.

The U-Foes are still in New York, hounded by Crossfire's crew, as the news reports that the U-Foes are still in the city because of their grudge with a rival prison gang. Vector swears to Vapor that he'll find the one who betrayed them before Crossfire does. The U-Foes prepare to leave their base, only to have the Controller and Mr. Fear mind control the civilians in the area, arm themselves and open fire on the U-Foes.

Spider-Man notices the explosion as he swings by overhead, and swings down to confront The Controller and Mr. Fear, unaware of the U-Foes fighting mind-controlled civilians below...

In General...

When I heard that Tony Bedard, of recent Exiles fame, but also author of Negation, was writing a jail-break story about Spider-Man foes, I knew I had to read it. Bedard has a history writing about prison escapees, and this issue is a perfect blend of intrigue, action, suspense, and wonder.

The premise of this book is fairly simple, but Bedard does a fantastic job with the characterization in this issue. Spider-Man isn't really the main character yet, but instead Vector is, and the focus on him and how he views his "family" was a revealing look at a character who's never really had that much depth.

This is a set-up issue, but it's extremely enjoyable to read, and reads at a brisk pace which keeps up the energy level. Vector and his U-Foes operate well as a team here, a slick unit, and seeing Crossfire's team operating is fascinating to watch as well.

The art by Garcia is extremely solid, conveying the fun and energetic aspects of the script quite well, as well as the pathos. Vector and the U-Foes are particularly well rendered, and the colors by Sotomayer really bring the art alive and make it jump off the page.

This is a nice start to this mini-series, and Bedard is definitely the right writer to have script a jailbreak story that is smart and intelligent, with pathos and compassion, regardless of whether the characters are heroes or villains.

Overall Rating...

This isn't at all what I expected. Spider-Man's head is on the masthead, but he's not the main character here, and it's a pleasant change of pace. The writing here is top-notch, and the art is a great compliment to the script. It's an engaging read, which doesn't sacrifice characterization for action, but instead focuses on fleshing out these villains and making the reader care about them, and it works quite well.