Martin Eden’s Spandex, a comic featuring an all gay team of superheroes, has just received its first volume graphic novelisation thanks to Titan books. Spandex Fast and Hard follows the stories of Prowler, Liberty, Glitter, Indigo, Butch, Mr Muscles and Diva as they battle crime, 50 ft lesbians, pink ninjas and a host of perilous dangers. While Marvel, DC and other large comic book power houses might have homosexual characters they are often perceived as being somewhat reserved, something that the characters from Spandex cannot be accused of. Here lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered characters make up the whole bill and the full range of fluid sexuality is on tap.
The new hardback edition compiles the first three issues of the series, each with its own unique story. Issue one is an introduction of sorts, a short relatively simple story depicting the gang of superheroes tackling a 50ft lesbian – it is as gloriously ridiculous as it sounds! The second issue focuses on the fallout from the dramatic end of issue one and features a gang of Japanese pink ninjas, this is also the issue where a more complicated back story starts to creep in, some elements are hinted at that will hopefully become the feature of future comics. Issue three takes a more divergent approach to the previous two and attempts to tell a much larger story, and for that it is the most successful. Although perhaps it could have been split between a couple of issues in order to explore the narrative nuances in more depth. Issue three’s presents the world having been enslaved by an androgynous and ambiguous creature, called Nadir, who turns the population into grey drones of despair with members of the Spandex team fighting to save themselves and humanity, the larger implication being that differences and uniqueness should be celebrated and not subverted for conformity.
Spandex makes no attempt to hide the comic book history that it borrows heavily from, gladly wearing its references on it’s sleeves it is a celebration of comic book culture whilst also trying to add a new dimension; an overtly queer dimension. As is often the case independent comic books are able to focus more successfully on the wide range of LGBT culture making that the forerunning theme, rather than being a comic that just happens to have homosexual characters in it (though both cases have merit). Spandex is very much the former and while it is never explicit it focuses on a more adult storyline than the tepid, no contact relationships seen in mainstream comics.
It’s the characters of Spandex that make it worth the read, heavily influenced by an amalgam of comic book references and queer culture they are at once an explosion of kitsch and camp and yet they also go beyond the stereotypes that they fill to the deeper characters that exist beneath. There are some references that appear all the way through, particularly to the Les Girlz, that feel like they are building to a bigger story arc, indeed there’s a sense that the next volume will be even more explosive than this one.
Spandex is fun, breezy, simply drawn comic book. It might not be for everyone, but its certainly fun regardless of your sexuality. It could be criticised for moving too fast in some areas and not expanding upon certain scenes and ideas but it’s a fledgling series and it’s tenacity and excitement is both fun and intoxicating. There is a notable progression in the form of the storytelling that’s obvious just between these three issues that can only bode well for future editions. Visually it is a no muss no fuss kind of comic and the simpleness of the drawing style (that might draw criticism from purists) works in its favour. Spandex is a bold, bright and occasionally unashamedly tacky, and who can ask for more?
Spandex Fast and Hard is available now from Titan Books.