OH NOES!!! ITS ARAÑA-GIRL!!1
Writer: Paul Tobin
Artists: Clayton Henry w/Sergio Cariello, Height, & Wong
Colorist: Chris Sotomayor
Letterist: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover Artist: Jelena Djurdjevic
***WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD***
The Plot: Anya continues to beat herself up for her father’s death. The recent Hobgoblin appearances freak Rocky out, as they remind her of her mom’s death at the hands of the Green Goblin. After a couple of uneventful days at school, Anya runs into the Red Hulk (both in their civilian attires), and he passes off to her some papers he found at a Raven base that might help her find her father’s murderers. Later, Sue Richards arranges an interview for Spider-Girl at the Baxter Building with the Daily Bugle’s Norah Winters. When she makes a remark about Spider-Girl being tough to beat, her videographer, Phil Urich (secretely the new Hobgoblin), decides to set up a trap to lure Spider-Girl in a fight in order to impress Norah. Spider-Girl soon faces him, and he tries to use his sonic blasts, but these don’t have much effect on her because she stuffed her ears with chewing gum. Spider-Man hears about the battle as he’s swinging around the city and rushes to help Anya, who is doing remarkably well against Hobby on her own. As a matter of fact, she has him down on the ropes when Spider-Man intervenes, and Hobgoblin gets away. She thanks Spidey for coming to help, and he agrees to help in finding her father’s killers.
The Good: Right off the bat, I welcome the return of Clayton Henry to the book. His designs are just so clean and sharp, and they are magnificent to look at. Of course, having colorist Chris Sotomayor on board helps the art to be vibrant and colorful. The actions sequences are dynamic. The expressions are spot-on. Perhaps it’s Henry’s dedication to each panel that often requires him to have another artist to fill in for him. Sergio Cariello is back, and his art perfectly matches Henry’s work. It’s not jarring at all, and it works great.
I hate to sound repetitive (even if it is for praise), but Djurdjevic draws another striking cover. I just love her work in this series.
As for the story itself, this issue serves as a done-in-one tale that also sets up the last arc of the series. It’s been several weeks since the end of issue #5, which is reflected by the fact that Sue is wearing her Future Foundation uniform. Tobin writes once again a nice mix of both characterization and action, except here he neatly reserves the first half of the issue to the former and the last half to the Hobgoblin fight.
There are several good moments in this story. For one thing, there is a lot of angst in this issue than in previous ones. Considering it’s a teen heroine book, it’s welcome here, and I’m actually surprised we haven’t seen it before. Her meeting with Thunderbolt Ross with both wearing their civilian clothing is not only visually great but also an interesting moment for the two, and I liked it. Rocky’s reaction to the Hobgoblin sightings provides the impetus for Spider-Girl to take on Hobby against her better judgment. We’ve been seeing this a lot throughout the whole series, beginning with Anya fighting Rulk and later Ana Kravinoff, but each situation always calls for Anya to avenge someone close to her, even if it means taking on a stronger foe. That’s just part of what makes her a great heroine, in my opinion.
Let’s talk about the other characters that appear in this issue. Rocky is still the good-natured friend. There’s a Rikki but I’m not sure whether it’s Rikki Barnes or not (she’s blonde, for one thing). Ross wants to get to the bottom of things for Anya’s sake and has no problem putting up with her rough demeanor. Sue actually seems like she genuinely cares for Anya, and it’s good to see the two ladies interacting in their uniforms. Norah is obnoxious, but that’s part of her character.
Now for the two big ones. Phil appears both in his civilian attire and as the Hobgoblin. In his one panel as Phil, he looks utterly jealous of Spider-Girl, and as Hobby he’s deranged and cocky. I find his appearance here quite interesting. For better or worse, let’s remember that this is not Roderick Kingsley, the calculating master of misdirection. This is Phil Urich, a psychotic and relatively inexperienced newcomer. Despite having the advantage, he completely fails to take Anya seriously, which leads to his defeat, as his bomb bag is stolen and he gets tied to a light pole. He also has no fighting skill and fights dirty, evidenced when he backhands Spider-Girl. I’m glad Tobin and Henry took the time to make these details come across well.
The Bad: Unfortunately, the one that got the shaft was none other than our friendly-neighborhood wall-crawler. After being absent for the first five issues, Spider-Man finally cameos on the book, but his sole contribution in the story was to botch up Anya’s fight with Hobgoblin. It definitely looks like his involvement caused Hobby’s escape. I can’t say for certain that she would’ve turned out victorious (personally, I think she would’ve), but Spidey certainly looks rather bumbling here, which is a shame. Even worse, Anya’s use of chewing gum to drown out Phil’s sonic scream makes Spidey wasting money on new suits seem rather stupid (and he acknowledges this in-story, which I’m glad Tobin has him do). Oh well. The last couple of panels has them discussing the Raven papers Anya got from Rulk. She’s been hyping up her incredible relationship with Spidey up to this point (though there’s not enough in this issue to say whether it was portrayed as such), so I hope we’ll see more of it in the future.
~My Two Cents