Marvel Adventures writer Paul Tobin branches out to the Marvel Universe proper with the premiere of Spider-Girl. He first encapsulates the character's history on the opening page. Good thing. I never read Arana. It looked too weird, but Spider-Girl became a feature character in Young Allies and I learned that whatever powers she had including the Guyver-like ability to suit up in bioarmor receded in favor of a pure adventurer character. I liked that version.
Tobin creates a very different superhero than what we're used to seeing. Spider-Girl, for instance, has a Twitter account and updates her escapades for her followers. Normally, a superhero who did that would be considered media hungry--think of Booster Gold. Tobin, however, evolves a tone that makes Spider-Girl's trajectory on the internet seem perfectly normal. She's doing this for the same reason that we all join such social networks. In any case, the device allows for inventive narration and just goes to show that everything old is new again. The most recent comic book paradigm dispensed with narration in favor of clunky exposition in dialogue from talking heads. Tobin returns narrative blocks to comic books in style.
Spider-Girl arrives on the racks ready to kick ass. She isn't a neophyte. This isn't some boring story where an amateur superhero learns from her mistakes. According to the tale, she has been trained by the best. Through fight choreography, Clayton Henry convinces you of that fact.
Henry illustrates some of the best unbalanced fighting I've seen in a book. Spider-Girl is a young girl. That means most of her opponents outweigh her. It's actually possible that a slender, sinewy fighter with a slight weight can beat a full grown man. The key lies in the speed of the blows and the way of the strikes.
Henry makes Spider-Girl's many victories in the book perfectly plausible. She builds momentum for her punches by winding her fist all the way back. She launches her kicks from a distance. She employs leverage and plants her feet firmly on the ground when pulling down a plug-ugly. Henry essentially teaches a lesson in martial physics, and Sotomayor is only too happy to enhance the curriculum with varying the grays and blacks of Spider-Girl's costume so that you can see the muscle move beneath the skin of her uniform.
In the premiere, Spider-Girl and her father move into a new apartment. Her father is another fresh aspect. He knows her secret identity and he approves of her choice to be a superhero. Spider-Girl's father is the media liason to the Fantastic Four and he arranges for Sue Richards, the Invisible Woman, to have dinner with his daughter. While at dinner, the Four must answer a call. This call introduces a Big Bad to the story.
The Big Bad creates chaos as well as an opportunity for the lower rungs of society to take advantage. Spider-Girl interferes in a plethora of petty crimes. When she discovers that her father's in danger, she races to the scene, and that sets up a surprising cliffhanger to be resolved next issue.
Tobin devotes the remainder of the pages with a short story called "Four Shadowing," a clever pun referring to the time when the child Anya Corazon met the Fantastic Four for the first time. Illustrated by Dean Haspiel and Edgar Delgado, "Four Shadowing" is a terrific little tale that works both as a past episode in Spider-Girl's life and as a straight Fantastic Four vignette. Haspiel's artwork perfectly captures Anya's youth and gives the Fantastic Four a unique spin with echoes of Kirby's original model buried in the mix.
This is an excellent start to Spider-Girl's solo adventures. Best of all nobody had to be crippled in order for her to burst on the scene.
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