Current Reviews


Amazing Spider-Girl #10

Posted: Saturday, July 14, 2007
By: Ray Tate

Scripters: Tom DeFalco & Ron Frenz
Artists: Ron Frenz, Sal Buscema (i), Gotham (colors)

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Now that the Carnage has been left out of the bag, this issue of Amazing Spider-Girl reads a little bit better than the previous issue. The same hindrances that hampered the last issue still haunt this one, but there's much to admire outside of those pitfalls.

SHIELD hired a group of reformed super-villains to guard a biohazardous mcguffin. SHIELD then proceeded to stage an Italian Job styled robbery of the mcguffin, in broad daylight and in the middle of the city during the height of what appeared to be the rush hour. SHIELD in the sewers engage in a firefight against Spider-Girl. A stray bullet hits the football, which turns out to house Carnage. Carnage oozes to freedom.

This issue focuses on Carnage's latest "kill" spree, but something new has been added to the normally boring bastard offspring of the equally one-dimensional Venom. I've never grasped the whole Venom/Carnage fad of the nineties. When you think about it, Spider-Man fighting Venom is essentially a battle against a pair of alien pants, and Carnage is a designer knockoff. DeFalco and Frenz imbue a conscience, or more likely a complete personality, to Carnage. This personality--think Dr. Stein to a psychotic Ronnie Raymond--which may or may not be known by Mayday Parker a.k.a. Spider-Girl keeps the beast from living up to its name.

In Amazing Spider-Girl the creative team portray Carnage as the stuff of nightmares, but the added facet of a conscience creates a different tone and atmosphere. This is not a gratuitously violent or bloody book. Rather the horror surfaces from a build up of suspense. Before the reader could be certain that barring happenstance Venom and/or Carnage would kill anything in their sights. Its what they did. The conscience, indeed the consciousness, limits Carnage's lethal excess, and an inner battle ensues. This conflict makes Carnage a far more interesting villain. You can argue that it's really two individuals and only one of them is worth watching, but there's the question of whether or not Carnage can corrupt the second personality into ethical silence.

Apart from the schism in Spider-Girl's foe, the story benefits from DeFalco's expert wielding of continuity. Darkdevil and Kaine, who watched over the football, know and generally like Spider-Girl. They put on a good double-act to belie their relationship with the webslinger for the benefit of the scapegoats' team leader. This allows for some witty dialogue and the curtailment of a needless slugfest. That's not to say Frenz and Buscema are merely twiddling their thumbs over their pencils and pens.

Frenz and Buscema execute superb action sequences. The moment where Carnage attempts to take down May Parker, who winningly spends quality time with a friend in need, particularly impresses with its novelty. The originality of the scene arises from the application of spider-speed. The scene shows May performing a perfect mid-air split that wouldn't look proper for Spider-Man. It would look however painful. The energetic art is matched by raw emotion in the moments of terror that Carnage induces in its would-be victims. Tears stream down faces twisted in fright because the victims know they are about to die.

Weighing against these many assets, Tom DeFalco and Ron Frenz simply refuse to answer the questions that I raised last issue. They do address the questions, but they don't answer them. Perhaps this is a metaphor for Bush's allergy to the rule of law, but that doesn't make for good reading. It just seems weak, like the writers felt those questions weren't important. Got news for you. They are:

"Yo, Contessa! Is there anything else you can tell me about the mysterious Speciman 247? Like--oh, just for argument's sake--why you tried to hijack it?"
"I'm afraid that information is classified."
"Classified--?! That may mean something to your crowd. It ranks below 'Dry Clean Only' for me."

What she said.

"Why wasn't I notified the government was conducting an operation through my neighborhood?"
"I'm not at liberty to disclose that information due to national security concerns, Captain Ruiz."

Well that's convenient.

"T--The police might have aided us, Agent Hill...I don't understand why you didn't co-operate with them?"
"And that's precisely why your career is in a holding pattern, Weadon."

That doesn't even make sense.

"Why would they transport such a lethal biohazard through a populated area?"
"The eggheads believe it may also have medical benefits and wanted to study it at a nearby laboratory."

Okay. That makes even less sense. Why wouldn't the eggheads be taken to the lethal biohazard? Writers have to answer these questions in a satisfactory way. Else, their story gains unwanted contrivance and emphasizes artifice over the illusion of reality. In other words, not answering distracts the reader right out of the story.

There are some problems in the current storyline of The Amazing Spider-Girl, but added depth to an otherwise worthless character makes this issue notable.

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