Is'nana the Were-Spider Showtime Review

By | Wednesday, February 24, 2021 Leave a Comment
Is'nana the Were-Spider Showtime
Is'nana is the son of Anansi, the trickster god from the Ashanti people of Ghana. Anansi, though, is a literally legendary figure and Is'nana tries to live up to his father's legacy. No small feat, of course, but he has powers inherited from his father, so he's not exactly without prowess himself! The stories thus far have been an interesting mix of anicent mythologies set against contempory cultures, so it often feels like a blend of superhero and folk tale genres. (It's a little like the Spider-Totems thing that ran in the Spider-Man books in the early 2000s, but with a better understanding and appreciation of the mythologies.)

This latest installment, Is'nana the Were-Spider: Showtime, is something of an interlude piece. (Written by series creator Greg Anderson Elysée with art by Miguel Blanco and Angael Davis-Cooper.) It's set between the first and second volumes and, unlike previous stories, mostly follows Is'nana and his friends on a few (relatively) quiet days off. He initially spies a group of kids breakdancing and becomes enamored with their abilities. He spends the next week learning, and meets up with them again to show off what he's learned. Everyone is impressed and the four change venues a few times before stopping for lunch to make more long-term plans as a group. In the process, though, they're attacked by the police (for being a 'nuisance') and, after a surprising transform-into-a-horde-of-spiders escape, Is'nana gets a quick primer on race relations in the US from his friends. At the end of the day, Is'nana feels obligated to return to his duties, but his new-found friends make sure to let him know he's welcome to join them at any time.

There were several things that impressed me about this book. First, it stands on its own pretty well. You don't need to have read any of the previous Is'nana stories to follow along. I find that noteworthy because I see a lot of creators working on their own titles frequently seeming to forget that, assuming everyone buying every issue after the first has read them all already. Further, any of the catch-up/back-story types of elements that are present here flow pretty naturally from the story; there's not a big exposition dump to catch new readers up to speed. Second, while I enjoyed the previous stories, this one did a fair amount to round out Is'nana as a character. It shows a side we haven't really seen yet, and drops some solid character-building.

Third, I think this is the first comic I've read that's depicted a main character with vitiligo. What's more, it's never mentioned. Krimsin's friends just accept him, and Is'nana is shown to be pretty clueless when it comes to skin color, so he doesn't mention it either. Medically, it's considered common, affecting about 1% of the population. And yet this is the first instance I can recall seeing it depicted in a comic. Props to the creative team here (I don't know who initiated it) for the inclusion and, more importantly, how they handled it.

It's a good book. A little atypical for the series, from the perspective of the type of story it is, but it still fits within the Is'nana world pretty easily and does show the basic setup and structure for readers discovering the character for the first time. The notion of learning about and accepting others' cultural backgrounds is a strong theme throughout this issue, and it only starts to get preachy for a panel or two after the police incident. But most of the story revolves around Is'nana getting accustomed to cultural norms like shoes and breakdancing and tattoos and sushi. The series has gotten better with each installment, and if you're curious to check out something Is'nana-related, this is a good bet.
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