Spider-man Noir is a 4 part series that retells the spider-man story from as you can imagine, a film noir type style. It is set in 1933 and is more gritty and darker than its 616 counterpart. David Hine and Fabrice Sapolsky have a joint writing credit while the artwork was done by Carmine di Giandomenico.
It is a snowy New York night as police are seen running into the daily Bugle offices. They are demanding to find Jameson's office and explain to a confused Betty Brant that they received a phone call from J. Jonah Jameson saying he had been shot. They burst into his office and see Jameson holding onto a phone with several gunshot wounds and Spiderman crouching on his desk holding a gun. The police try to get Spidey to drop his gun and arrest him, but he surprises them with his webs and makes a daring escape.
We are then taken back 3 weeks before the opening Ben Ulrich is narrating, JJJ sent Ben to a shantytown to get pictures of how the people are living, "I want pictures that'll make 'em weep!" says Jonah. Ben confronts one of the homeless people crowded around a fire if he can get his picture for the Daily Bugle. The man agrees, saying he has the front pages as an extra layer under his coat, sports in his shoes and uses the financial pages for toilet paper. Ben notices a gathering of people and asks the man about it, the man comments that it is May Parker giving a communist speech to the crowd.
May is giving a soapbox speech about the evil nature of democracy. The Enforcers (Ox, Fancy Dan and Montana) show up and tell May she should get on a boat and "go join your comrades in Russia". When May tells The Enforcers that in America that there is the freedom of speech, this seems to only anger the trio and Fancy Dan get Ox to pull her off the box. Peter tries to stop them, but is easily beaten up by Ox. May tries to help Pete, but is lassoed up by Montana. Ben takes a photo of the three men attacking Peter and May and threatens to post the picture in the next day's paper. Ox grabs a hold of Ben, but is stopped by Dan who says Ben is "off-limits" Ben offers to give Peter and May a ride home.
Ben takes the two to a welfare centre that they are living in. Peter reveals that they had to put a fence up after his Uncle Ben was killed by the Goblin's gang. May tries to dispel the rumour, but Pete won't believe it. May turns in for the night and Ben decides against his better judgment to take Pete out. Ben takes Peter to the Black Cat, the hottest speakeasy in town. Ben introduces Peter to Felicia Hardy owner and at one time girlfriend to Ben. Ben reveals the reason why he brought Peter to the Black cat: the mayor, chief detective and a wealthy industrialist are all patrons at the illegal establishment. Then in walks Norman Osborn, The Goblin. Ben explains to Peter that the reason Norman went after Uncle Ben is not personal, but rather the mayor, chief detective and industrialist each had a hand in hiring The Goblin to silence Ben Parker.
Ben then tells Peter about The Goblins gang. There is an Animal trainer called Kraven and a geek named the Vulture. Norman comes over to the table Ben and Peter are sitting at and starts talking about Ben Parkers death. This seems to push a button with Peter who throws his drink into Osborn's face. Norman orders Toomes not to do anything yet and Ben and Pete leave the Black Cat. Peter tells Ulrich he won't run and he won't close his eyes. Ben impressed with the kids passion decides to help Pete get a job at the Daily Bugle. JJ gives Pete a speech about how there are millions of sob stories out there and that his paper "makes 'em weep". Ben takes Peter out to several places for pictures. On one of the nights they go to a place where a man hung himself because of his debt to the Goblin, wanting his wife to be left alone, but Ben states the man was wrong, "The Goblin always collects".
Peter really opened up to Ben after the crime scene and says that one day the goblin will pay for his crimes, people just nee the guts to come forward. Pete tells Ben that when his uncle was killed they tied him up so he couldn't fight back, then when he was still alive they set wild dogs on him. Then Pete revealed that it was him who came upon the gruesome mangled body of his uncle. Back at his home Ben opens a drawer and pulls out a needle and heroine, and there are flashbacks to Ben Parker getting beaten up by the enforcers. Then he says it wasn't dogs that tore Ben Parker to pieces, but it was actually Adrian Toomes, who after years of being treated like an animal, the last of his humanity was stripped and he became a cannibal. And in the last page it shows all of The Goblins Enforcers watching on as The Vulture tears into Ben, spilling blood everywhere. With Ben Ulrich among the group looking on terrified.
The writing in this book really pulled in the reader. It had a lot of very familiar characters from the 616 universe, but not necessarily as they are in the 616 versions, which is good for a title such as Noir. The art from di Giandomenico really illustrated the dark, gritty and depressing tone of the story. The story flows at a very well pace, without going too slow, or too fast as some other comics go. This is a very good first installment in a four part series. The artwork does a good job of keeping up with the writing without either one overtaking the other. Peter's tongue is as quick and sharp as it is in his other versions. In the scene at the Black Cat Pete asks for whiskey, when Felicia asks to see his age he says "I'll show you my birth certificate and you show me your liquor license", which is such a witty thing for Pete to say, really adds to his smart-alecky character.
A very well done comic over all, it was able to introduce many of the characters we all know without overloading the reader. And it also seemed to use the 616 universe as a base to the characters as opposed to a bible.