Spider-Girl #1 by Tobin / Henry
The launch of Paul Tobin’s new Spider-Girl series has been more controversial than it really has any right to be. The fanatical following of Tom Defalco’s recently cancelled previous Spider-Girl series have sworn off the title in droves, seeing Anya Corazon as a pretender to Mayday Parker’s Spider-Girl throne. While I was a fan of Defalco’s Spider-Girl I thought that it had run out of steam in recent times. Given its poor sales I can understand Marvel’s decision to cancel it and hand the title over to a new character (albeit one that has been around for a few years in a different guise).
Tobin’s debut issue is a strong start, introducing readers to an engaging heroine with a well worked, if limited supporting cast. Anya’s relationship with her father is very well written and a welcome tonic to the fraught parental relationships often evident among young characters. The family’s links to the Fantastic Four are well worked as well, without seeming forced – it is great to see Sue Storm in an off duty capacity and Tobin writes the character very well.
Oddly for a new series, this issue is fairly light on superheroics and it is in the out of costume scenes where the story really shines. The story does start off with a fun bout between Spider-Girl and Screwball, an underused villain with a cool concept who I always like seeing. It bothered me that she was so easily beaten though – Screwball is a character who has often given Spider-Man trouble in the past so I found a bit odd that a teenage girl with no actual superpowers was able to take her out in the space of a few pages. Spider-Girl’s status as a non-superpowered heroine was one that while well explained, seems a bit of a stretch to me. The recap page helpfully explains that she has received training from other heroes but I found it a bit puzzling that she seems to find crimefighting as easy as she does. I’m hoping that this is something that is expanded on in coming issues.
The cliffhanger ending featuring the Red Hulk came way out of left field for me. While it is good that Spider-Girl will be tying into the wider Marvel Universe, I would probably rather that she was more attached to Spider-Man’s world. Red Hulk is never a character that I have found particularly interesting and he has appeared in two Marvel books that I pick up in this month alone – this seems a little like overkill for me, particularly for a character who appears regularly in the Hulk stable of books.
Clayton Henry’s artwork is solid and serviceable without ever being spectacular. While I admire his clarity and good grasp of anatomy I tend to prefer more stylised artwork, with his work in this issue appearing a little bland for my tastes. He still does a good job though and I am more than happy with him on the title.
The issue also includes a short back up, also written by Paul Tobin with art by Dean Haspiel. It was nothing groundbreaking but was a fun little story, providing some much needed backstory on the Corazon’s relationship with the Fantastic Four. The artwork was very easy on the eye and I would not mind at all were it to become a regular feature. Anya and her father’s relationship with the FF is a very interesting element of the series and one that is ripe for exploration in future issues.
This is an issue that will probably not blow anyone’s socks off, but it worked very well for me as an introduction to the new Spider-Girl and her world. Anya is a very appealing and unique character and hopefully Tobin can build on this strong, if unspectacular start.