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Spider-Woman Motion Comic Free on Hulu

All 5 episodes of the “Spider-Woman: Agent of S.W.O.R.D.” motion comic are now up on Hulu for free, including the most recent episode that just dropped yesterday on iTunes for $1.99, which is a little puzzling, but who cares! Free stuff!

Alex Maleev’s art is incredibly gorgeous, as usual, but it’s hard to get away from the fact that this a transitional work within a hybrid medium that doesn’t quite know itself yet. The motion aspect works particularly well for establishing shots, as a ferris wheel spins slowly behind the neon sign of a hotel, the sun rises yellow on the water in Madripoor behind a gently undulating boat, and rain falls hard from a bird’s eye view to the street below.

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It’s very pretty and often very effective, but you can practically hear the record scratch when the story moves out of atmosphere and into conversations, which invariably come off as stilted because nobody’s lips are moving when they talk. And since this is Bendis, that’s a lot of the time.

In comics, readers create the movement of images in the gutters between panels, but what feels strange in motion comics is the way part of that story — the background — gets set into motion, often beautifully, while the most central and emotionally significant images — faces — stay frozen in place. The dialogue works fine in the print version, of course, but if creators are going to design for motion comics then they really need to do that, and work around these types of weaknesses as they structure the art and story.

It’s absolutely worth taking a look — for free! — if only to get a feel for the way the comics/video hybrid is evolving. The art is stunning and the talent top-flight, but personally I’d still be happier dropping $3.99 for the comic book version, since that’s still where this story looks and feels the most at home.

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