Friday, June 5, 2009

Comics I want to like: Spider-Girl

You know those comics out there where there's nothing inherently wrong with the character, but it just doesn't work? Yeah, I have a bunch of those. Case in point, Spider-Girl.

Created in 1998 as a one off for an issue of What If?, May "Hotshot" Parker took up the role of Spider-hero from her retired, and disabled, father. She became a hit and spawned an entire new line of books set 15 years in the future focusing on the next generation of Marvel heroes. While the rest of the line didn't survive past a few years, Spider-Girl went on for 130+ issues over two series which ain't nothing to sneeze at in this day and age.

May herself was written as a great cross between Mary Jane Watson and Peter Parker. She was smart, popular, athletic, with a great head on her shoulders and a great sense of self. As Spider-Girl she was quippy, fun, and never considered it the burden that Peter did (well, pretty much anyway)

So what's the problem?

Frankly, it just falls flat.

The rouge's gallery is just a rehash of Peter's, full of retreads of classics with no resonating arch nemesis.

The storylines rely too much on continuity sometimes from more than twenty years ago, from the Hobgoblin to the Clone Saga.

Worse, there's no big drama in Spider-Girl's actions because the status quo is never shaken up. From the first issue it's been May in High School juggling that life with her super hero life while her father reluctantly lets her do what she's doing.

Not that their aren't opportunities to change things up dramatically. Case in point: Spider-Girl # 100. After a series of events, May becomes bonded with the Venom symbiote and is able to bend it to her will.

But instead of running with the idea of May owning a tame symbiote and increasing the friction between her and Peter, it gets itself killed later in the same issue


What the character needs is a different writer. Tom Defalco has done a great job defining who May is and establishing the start of her career, but if she's going to really grow and become the great character she should be, someone else needs to take a crack at her.

I would love to see what a Jeff Parker, Sean McKeever, Fred Van Lente, or anyone with that fun Silver Age mindset could do with a character like her. But given the fanatical nature of her fans, I know this will never happen which is too bad, because it might just be the kick in the pants the character needs to get recognized by the comic reading public at large.

Meanwhile I'll just be watching from the sidelines and rooting for the best.

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