Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The End of Spider-Girl

I give Tom DeFalco a lot of shit on this site. I rag on everything from his pacing, to his characters, to general story lines; There isn't a ton of his stuff that I let pass without some snark.

That said, he did a pretty good job on Spider-Girl: The End. Not a great one, but still a better job than I expected.

The story is what you expect, the last adventure of Spider-Girl. As told by an old woman (kind of. The POV is a bit wonky), we see ol' May Parker's final showdown with her villainous clone, April, in which May sacrifices herself to save the other's life. And I have to admit, I was pretty surprised that DeFalco did this, as he tends to eschew those deathly moments most of the time.

Of course, it turns out that the old woman telling the story is April, and because of her actions the world has become a terrible place. Humans live in the sewers, hunted by Carnage-esque "Bio-Preds", while the remaining superheroes work on a plan to end this insanity. The plan, of course, involves time travel.

As expected, April heads into the past to stop herself from killing (albeit accidentally) May. As a result, April learns of the horrible future and ends up sacrificing herself to save May, giving May the first large personal trauma in her superhero life (I don't count the death of Crazy Eight, that was just silly). Good for DeFalco for going for it. It's about time May had to deal with some real emotions.

While this issue had some great moments, it also really highlighted the problems with the title. For being a book that prides itself on being full of retro-classic, done-in-one adventures, there was a lot of excess story baggage. It's the unfortunate result of only having one writer for 12 years.

I know how this sounds, but hold on and lemme explain.

Have you ever tried to read a Claremont story from the late eighties? As was Jim Shooter's orders ("every issue could be someone's first"), there's all this exposition in it to help a new reader catch on, but it's still really dense and confusing. Even if you try to read a new jumping on point (like X-Men #1 or Uncanny #281), there's still all this crazy stuff you need to know because Claremont still had his master story to tell, regardless of issue numbers. It's the same problem Spider-Girl has.

When Spider-Girl would get a fresh start, it ended up just being a continuation of what came before it. That's not to say DeFalco didn't try. Lord knows he did a much better job than Claremont ever could making the book accessible, yet he still fell into the trap of continuing his 'master' story.

In the end, I'm really glad that DeFalco got a chance to tie up his loose ends and put the book to rest, even if it's not how he probably imagined it. And now that he's placed the reins on the ground, I can't wait until someone else picks them up and runs with them and takes the one true Spider-Girl to new heights.

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