REVIEW: Arachna Vol. 1 – The Adventure Begins (2022)

A Graphic novel by Martti Kauppinen, Carlos Granda, Maksim Strelkov, and Hellica

Arachna Vol. 1 – The Adventure Begins is a new comic from X53 Studios, a studio that I had yet to read anything from prior to today, but I can see becoming a big player on the indie comics scene pretty soon. They primarily publish through crowdfunding on Indiegogo, and have had a handful of successful campaigns under their belts so far (more info on that later). This initially slipped past me because I normally use Kickstarter, but I really need to slide over to Indiegogo and see what else is available. At first glance, one would be remiss to assume this comic is simply a copy/paste of a gender-swapped Marvel Spider-Man comic, but you couldn’t be further from the truth. Arachna is a sexy take on your standard superhero fare for those that may like their comics a bit more “spicy”. If you are a fan of the genre, but tire of the “big two”, this is a great alternative.

Arachna is what you get when you mix the sense of adventure of Steve Ditko’s Spider-Man, the fun and peril of Batman ’66, and the kink and weirdness of Twin Peaks.

The story features a character named Jennie, a stereotypical mild-mannered college fashion design student trying to get by and perhaps land a date with the campus hunk she is crushing on. Unbeknownst to everyone else, however, she has a BIG secret. Jennie has been moonlighting as a costumed vigilante, specifically targeting would-be deviants that take their perversions to the extreme – such as kidnappers, murderers, and rapists. She dons a leather mask and adopts a far more brash persona as “Arachna”, but there’s a reason why – it appears she may have dissociative identity disorder and all of her bravery, sexiness, and overall bravado are relegated to her alter-ego. With Jennie treating it as if Arachna is the personification of her superhero suit or some such, it’s hard to tell who is the “real” Jennie. I’m sure it will elaborated on in future installments, but the details aren’t fully explained as of yet as to her relationship to her predicament. So far the dynamic is somewhat similar to what we see in Venom, and especially how that relationship is portrayed in the recent films starring Tom Hardy.

Being a costumed hero means that Arachna has been getting some traction in the media, which not only draws admirers, but the eye of would-be super villains. She has been specifically targeted by the nefarious Doc Diabolique and his henchmen including a grotesque pig/man- hybrid and a sadistic ninja named Kumo. Doc is a VERY interesting character (so far) that will be fun to see as he gets fleshed out considering it appears Arachna is not the only person living a double life. We don’t get too much of the battle between Kumo and Arachna here, but hopefully we see more of their feud as it has an interesting dynamic. Overall, the villains are fleshed out well, and have plenty of room to grow.

The standout aspect of this book is definitely the artwork, as everything from the character designs to coloring pop and are very well done. The layouts are dynamic and exude energy and action for the limited space available. I was especially a fan of some of the facial expressions and how the artists conveyed the differences between both of Jennie’s personalities. Of course, the book features characters in provocative positions at times, so this is a small reminder that this book is not really for the kiddos in any way. It is a tad on the mature side without being outright pornographic, which does open the book up to a slightly larger audience than it would had the book simply been smutty. As long as you’re okay with some innuendos and obscured brief nudity, you’ll enjoy what you see.

Overall, this was a cool book to come across, and I will have to try to look up some of the studio’s other works. It appears that they are building a shared universe with other characters they are introducing, so I will have to check those out as well, and see how it all fits together. If you ever wonder what a kinky re-imagining of your standard comic book hero story with some major twists would look like – Arachna Vol. 1 – The Adventure Begins might fit the bill. It’s very refreshing to see a comic break the mold just a tad, especially when all of the major label stuff has become derivative and pandering to such a degree. If you are a fan of action comics with a fair slice of Cheesecake, such as Lady Death, Nyobi, or even Red Sonja, check it out!

For more information on this book, and where to buy yourself a copy, click HERE

Information on the Indiegogo campaign for volume 2, click HERE

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