Now, more than ever, the idea and inclusion of active openly homosexual superheroes is incredibly important. While the big two have been creating storylines and characters, seeking to connect with the growing population of the proud Americans discovering who they really are, one can argue that the attempts on the part of both companies have been hit or miss. The marriage of Marvel’s Northstar was a beautiful depiction of a realistic, relatable circumstance, with a couple taking the next big step in their relationships, whereas the rebooting of Green Lantern Alan Scott as an openly gay homosexual media tycoon, realistically turned out to be a relatively irrelevant announcement. What fans are really after is just not slapping a label on a pre-established character and shouting, “Look! We’re new and hip!” but a thoughtful and dynamic interpretation of what it means, for a number of different kinds of people, to be gay. That is something Spandex - Fast and Hard brings to the table. Spandex - Fast And Hard, written and drawn by Martin Eden, is the story of a superhero team that prominently features all gay members. The team includes a larger cast, each with their own unique power set (everything from rock hard skin to absorbing the abilities of any gay person around you), color scheme (the structure of the team is based on the rainbow) and secrets. These elements are particularly what I loved most about the book; while Eden is able to have fun and represent diversity in a light hearted way, he also makes a damn good effort to make you care about the characters both from a geeky, traditional superhero side and from a personal side. There is a tremendously well-done series of panels early on in the book, where Eden showcases each member in their private homes after saving the city from an attack from a 50-foot lesbian. It can be rare to see superheroes coming down from the job but Eden does a fantastic job allowing the process of relaxation and stress relief reveal so much more about the team.
Normally team books, especially unestablished teams like this that people are unfamiliar with, can be difficult for the reader, as some members overshadow others and the focus tends to shift towards one or two key players. But Spandex does a great job at making you interested about who these people are when they aren’t defending the streets. For instance, the character of Prowler, who comes off as the cocky powerhouse of the group, is also seen spending his downtime alone, reminiscing the days adventures to the photo of a past lover. This is just an example of the type of rich individualized storytelling that adds complexity of the characters in Spandex.
Artistically, while not a groundbreaking book in terms of presentation, the coloring and line work are done in such a simple and accessible way, that the book exudes a very inviting feeling. Eden’s style is not abrasive or offensive in any way, especially given the subject matter, and feels like something that anyone could pick up and enjoy, despite their previous history with this medium. In addition to that, the book offers a wide variety of extras, including short bios of the characters, individual strips featuring further adventures, and a brief history of the team.
To wrap things up, if you want something fresh and unique, that offers an honest, strong depiction of homosexual relationships and the confusion that gender and sexual identity can bring, then pick up Spandex - Fast And Hard.
TL;DR Spandex - Fast and Hard is one of the better open and honest depictions about being gay and being a superhero. This first installment offers a well rounded story, with relatable and powerful characters that can be enjoyed by any reader. (NOTE: We don't mean children. This IS rated and adult book.)
Spandex - Fast and Hard is written and illustrated by Martin Eden. Published by Titan Books, you can ask your local comic book shop to order it for you or, support Spandexless by buying it through our Amazon web store.
A review copy of Spandex - Fast and Hard was graciously provided to Spandexless by the publisher. And special thanks to their awesome press guy, Tom, who worked with us when USPS lost our copy in the mail.