“Spider-Man: Fever” #2 doesn’t look like any other book on the shelves this week, presenting a bright, almost garish, vision of Spider-Man and Dr. Strange, both in otherworldly realms where Brendan McCarthy is free to let his imagination run wild, drawing weird buildings and whatever random ideas pop up. It’s fun and poppy, a weird adventure that, at its core, could be just any other Spider-Man/Dr. Strange team-up, but, when presented through McCarthy’s sensibilities, it becomes something decidedly different and unique.
Spider-Man’s soul has been taken by a hungry tribe of spider-demons, but they are unsure if he’s a spider or a man, so he must kill the sorror-fly to prove himself a spider. If he does, they’ll eat the sorror-fly and, if he doesn’t, they’ll eat him. So, draped in webbing and carrying a large spear, Spider-Man’s soul enters the wilderness to kill a sorror-fly. Meanwhile, Dr. Strange is journeying through the dimensions to find Spider-Man’s soul and save it, coming into contact with some weird folks along the way, including a pair of depressed dogs. It’s fairly straight forward, but, using that simplicity, McCarthy plays around, not delivering a simple, straight forward comic.
An odd part of the comic is how accepting both Spider-Man and Dr. Strange are of what’s happening. Spider-Man goes out to kill the sorror-fly because he has to, while Dr. Strange simply accepts anything he comes across on his journey. Strange encounters depressed dogs and a woman in a sigil trap, never losing his cool or frustrated by the delays; he just deals with what comes up before moving on in a relatively stoic, business-like manner. McCarthy presents him as a confident Sorcerer Supreme, one that deals with these sort of problems all of the time, so why get worked up over a delay here or there?
Strange’s journey leads to some of the weirder, more out there imagery, but McCarthy is fairly restrained with Strange himself, allowing his surroundings to take precedence. Pages are filled with neon blues, greens, and oranges with cartoonish dogs and landscapes that are poppy versions of what Steve Ditko did in the ‘60s. It's weird and trippy, which is in contrast to the Spider-Man portions of the story where the art is darker, but still plenty weird as he traverses the barren landscape in search of the sorror-fly but receiving insight into his past instead. Spider-Man is lanky and very much in the Ditko tradition, but colored green and purple instead of red and blue. He has a sickly look about him as he wanders, not quite sure what he should be doing.
McCarthy’s line work isn’t the usual Marvel fare, but there’s no denying the skill with pages like Spider-Man entry into the wilderness. Garbed in webbing, he looks heroic despite the absurdity of the outfit. McCarthy’s use of sound effects plays a large role, filling up some pages, acting as an essential piece of the art in places. That adds to the energetic, hyper feeling of the art, but, thankfully, nothing ever seems cluttered. There’s a good balance to McCarthy’s pages.
“Spider-Man: Fever” #2 has both Dr. Strange and Spider-Man progress on their quests, the issue ending with an odd revelation about Spider-Man that should make the final issue very interesting.