Spider-Girl #1 Review or Does whatever Mayday can…Better!

Writer: Paul Tobin
Artist: Clayton Henry
Colorist: Chris Sotomayor

I cannot consider myself a monstrous fan of the previous incarnation of Spider-Girl as written by Tom DeFalco, but I did stick around and read a good chunk of the comics.  I always found the series a solid diversion and a neat little What If Stan Lee Hadn’t Championed the “Illusion of Change.”  DeFalco’s work really felt like what a reader would expect to pick up ten or fifteen years after giving up on comics.  The comics were always over written but consequences and changes to the cast were de rigueur.  The idea of Spider-Man’s daughter taking on her father’s namesake was cool, but it got boring after a while.  May Day Parker never separated from her roots the old book always seemed to be held down by everything that happened to Pete and MJ.  All told, it was a good effort, but probably not the best usage of the name Spider-Girl.

When Araña first launched in Amazing Fantasy back in 2004 I seem to recall a lot of Spider-Girl fans worrying that this new character would soon end their beloved franchise.  It took six years, but it has finally come to pass.  I read all of Araña’s solo appearances in Amazing Fantasy and then in her ongoing title.  The whole Spider-Society shtick worked pretty well to build up the lead, Anya.  The book never generated a lot of buzz, but she has stuck around in the Marvel Universe and recently donned the Spider-Girl outfit minus her old powers.  All of these things make me wonder just how successful this launch will end up being with comic readers.  By my perspective, this was an Spectacular first issue.

I want to talk about the complete package offered here, so I will begin with the cover by Barry Kitson and Chris Sotomayor.  I adored Kitson’s work on Empire a few years back and this is no less impressive.  Spider-Girl comes off powerful and carefree with a dynamic costume in the initial image.  I will also tip my hat to Mr. Sotomayor whose work on this entire issue is invaluable.  You don’t need me to tell you he’s one of the best colorists to ever work in comics.  The thing I love most about the cover is the old school text box warning.  Check it out above.  It’s wonderful when comics are allowed to harken back to the glory days where hyperbole was rampant throughout the comics we loved and not just in the inane press releases of the modern experience.

Inside you definitely get your money’s worth.  This issue features a one-page recap, 23 page of main story, and an eight-page backup tale all centered on the title character.  We quickly get engrossed in Anya Corazon’s life.  It doesn’t matter if you’ve been reading her adventures as Araña or if this is your first encounter with the new Spider-Girl.  You will be well versed in the character, the supporting cast, and where things are headed by the time you finish issue one.  That’s something that can’t be said a bout many comics after a half-dozen issues.

Paul Tobin’s script is one of the best premiere issues I have come across in a long time.  The use of text boxes again is a key to my enjoyment.  Inside the book they are used throughout to show Anya’s tweets in the guise of Spider-Girl.  This is a nice touch and one that’s pretty believable in the day and age when tweet about bowel movements are commonplace.  The story itself features a brief fight scene with a villain named Screwball to start off the proceedings.  Tobin then gets us into Anya’s life outside of the black and white costume.  We meet her father, Gil, who is a writer and friend to the Fantastic Four.  There’s time for a peek into Anya’s life in school where she’s a bit of a nobody.  Then we change gears as Anya goes out to lunch with Sue Storm.  An emergency calls Sue away and Anya gets into her Spider-Girl costume and pokes her nose in too.  We are left with a solid cliffhanger and some hope for more exciting tales ahead.

Clayton Henry teams up with Sotomayor to render the varied characters and setting with strength, detail, and an Amazing color palette.  The action is dynamic, the family moments keep your interest, and the characters all have their own manner.  The only negative with the art I found was in Spider-Girl’s facial expressions.  She is either tight-lipped or, more frequently, gape-mouthed at something that’s happening.  A little more variety of expression would give the artwork an added edge.

The backup feature lends us insight into Gil and Anya’s connection with the Fantastic Four.  That was a piece that I pretty certain wasn’t present in the previous Araña incarnation.  The story should be fun for any FF fan as it features several silly asides that are typical of the first family of comics.  Dean Haspiel’s artwork captures the slightly silly tone very well, although I don’t like his rendition of the Thing.  Ben Grimm comes off looking more like the Golgothan from Dogma than the ever lovin’ blue eyed Thing we all know and love.  

All things considered, this is one of the best single issues produced by Marvel Comics this year.  If Paul Tobin and Clayton Henry keep giving us stories like this maybe this Spider-Girl will stick around as long or, dare I say it, even longer than Mayday Parker!

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