Interesting Tidbit That You Probably Don’t Care About But You Are Gonna Get It Anyway: When Araña was first introduced back in 2004 in Amazing Fantasy, I remember watching a special segment on the evening news for a Spanish-speaking channel about Hispanics in comics. She was a big deal because you didn’t really see a lot of Hispanic girls as superheroes, especially with real Hispanic-American roots. I distinctly remember someone saying that Anya Corazon was half-Mexican, half-Puerto Rican, and that her culture was an important part to her character.
I considered Spider-girl #1 a stellar debut issue (which, technically, should be a called a relaunch since we’re not really introduced to a new character but a revamp of an established character) and was eagerly anticpating issue #2. Going in, I knew her first arc involved a battle with the Red Hulk. That right there called for another moment of groan-inducing facepalming, but I figured the arc was being done to add respectability to the character for what I assumed would be her victory over an opponent who is way out of her league, much like it has been done before (and you’ve probably heard Gerard mentioning a couple of times). I figured this would be the battle that will cement her place in the Marvel U. I figured it would be a true battle of brains versus brawn.
What we got was something else entirely, something that gripped me in a different way.
“Death Be Not Proud…”
Writer: Paul Tobin
Artists: Clayton Henry (pages 1-13), Height, Wong, Paris, and Livesay (pages 14-24)
Colorist: Christ Sotomayor
Cover Art: Jelena Djurdjevic
*** WARNING: THERE ARE SPOILERS AHEAD***
The Plot: Continuing from last issue’s cliffhanger, Spider-girl finds her dad dead and the FF beat down by a rambling Red Hulk. After knocking them out, he gives chase to her. In her blind rage, she tries to fight him before realizing it’s a lost cause, and she leads him away from the city. As Anya deals with her dad’s death and receives encouragement from Nomad and Rocky Flint, she contemplates quitting as Spider-girl. Rocky shows up to Anya’s apartment and shares how her mom died during a Green Goblin attack that was thwarted by Spider-man later on [when we discussed this scene over at the boards, we concluded that she was most likely referring to the opening arc of Marvel Knights Spider-man]. This comforts Anya and the girls hug as Rocky tells her she’s not alone. Meanwhile, a stalker with cameras set up in Anya’s apartment is watching on as he also claims to himself that she’s certainly not alone, calling her Spider-girl.
Like I mentioned already, I was expecting an entirely different issue than what we got, and I mean that in a good way. Tobin could’ve easily written a contrived way for Spider-girl to defeat Red Hulk, something that no other superhero in the last two years could’ve come up with to defeat him (considering the fact that he faced hulked out versions of the Avengers, and it took the Green Scar version of Hulk to finally bring him down, it would’ve had to be something amazing). It certainly would’ve provided evidence to prove the argument that Marvel is trying to play up Anya as a better Spider-girl than Mayday was (an argument that I will not get into in this space).
Thankfully, this was not the case at all. Instead we got a true heart-wreching and a character-defining moment. There was absolutely no way Anya could even face Rulk, and we all knew that. But continuing with her mantra of being a people person, she does her best to lead away the beast from the city and into the ocean to avoid getting more people hurt by his rampage. This is not done right away, however. While it wasn’t clear last issue, it was most definitely confirmed that her dad was killed in the struggle. She’s not thinking straight (nobody would), and she tries to fight him, only to be restrained by the FF. Once her head clears a little, she’s able to act better and do the smart thing. I’m glad Tobin decided to go this way, as I was truly enganged by this moment.
As noted in the credits, Henry is responsible for the art in the first half of the issue. His art is as great as ever, with Sotomayor greatly complementing him in colors. The characters always look vivid, and the action looks fluid. But the best parts (in the art department, that is) are the facial expressions as she sees from afar her dad being carried off by paramedics.
The second half of the issue deals with Anya shutting herself off from her world. She’s avoiding Rikki Barnes (Nomad from Young Allies) and Sue Richards, and she’s thrashing stuff while out as Spider-girl. The pages on this half are done by different artists, so it’s really impossible for me whom to credit, but while not as great looking as Henry’s, they helped mark a different tone, more subdued and drab, which goes well with Anya’s grieving moments. What I particularly enjoyed abou this second half is how it slows down and gives us some good characterization between her and Rocky Flint (as far as I know, Rocky is first introduced here as one of Anya’s friends).
While in #1 I didn’t like how Sue Richards appeared dull and indifferent toward Anya, here we get a more sympathetic reaction from her, as she shuts up the other FF members, who didn’t really pick up on the fact that Anya was distraught. It would appear Sue is also aware of Anya’s alter-ego, but that’s just conjecture on my part.
As with last issue, we get tweets from @The_Spider_Girl (which do actually appear on the actual feed on Twitter) acting as narration boxes, which is pretty unique. The recap page, which echoes the one from ASM #650 with its Horizon handheld, also has tweets bringing the reader up to speed on events from last issue.
I almost forgot to mention Jelena Djurdjevic’s cover art. That thing looks fantastic.
This is just an overall complaint and not exclusive to this issue, but is the FF regularly portrayed as insensitive jerks? I say that because we see Reed pushing Anya way and Johnny going on about how her head is not in the game. This taken with last issue’s problems with Sue leads me to believe that the FF are kinda arrogant, and if that’s not supposed to be the case, please let me know.
Like I said, the art in the second half is good but not necessarily great. My only real problem is how the Green Goblin was drawn.
The reveal that Anya is being stalked kinda came out of the left field for me. It wasn’t until I re-read the issue that I saw that the creeper is in a couple of panels during the City College scene (or at the very least, I think it’s the same dude, since the different artists depict him differently. Could be also two different dudes working together).
While I did enjoy the time Tobin spent having Anya just grieving, I’m left wondering what the heck was up with the Red Hulk. The issue suggests he’s not in complete control of himself, and that he’s not necessarily responsible for Gil’s death. I’m sure we won’t be seeing the last of him or the FF, and it’ll be interesting to see how this ties with the stalker subplot.
Paul Tobin delivers another strong issue of Spider-girl. This one had me hoping that Gil wasn’t really dead, and I went through the whole issue expecting that. Didn’t happen. It was a devastating and demoralizing time for our heroine, one that I didn’t see coming, and also one that had me sympathizing with her greatly. Henry, Height, and the others do a good job on their assigned pages. I’m hoping Henry will be back doing full issues again.
With this being said, I feel confident enough to award this issue:
5 Webheads out of 5
~My Two Cents