Sunday, December 17, 2006

Money for old rope to hang yourself with

The Amazing Spider-Girl #3

It's like watching a car crash in slow motion. Very slow motion. Motion so slow that even a multi-car pile up gets boring. It's almost as if they are deliberately trying to kill this comic.

The plot from issue #1 drags on but we still have no idea what the maguffin is that everyone is after. May is still not back in costume properly, and just to bog the momentum down further we see the introduction of a new villain Bitter Frost; such a cheap Killer Frost knockoff that even the name is almost the same. And even though we get page after page of angsty backstory about what a hard life she's had so May will feel conflicted about preventing her from murdering more people*, her actual origin is restricted to a single small panel that doesn't actually explain anything.

Even the subplots about May's problems with her social life and her running for class president or whatever it is don't come off because it just makes her look like a self-centred diletante who is incapable of prioritising.

I find it hard to believe that many readers who were lured in by the big relaunch of the series are going to make it to the end of this grossly padded storyline. It's almost a textbook example of how to alienate your audience.

Unless this title gets a fairly radical quality upgrade in the near future I don't think it will last a year. On current form it doesn't deserve to.

*So how many people does she need to murder before "having a hard life" is no longer an excuse?


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I disagree. I think the relaunch has been doing pretty well, except that her friends are being *too* hard on her, and she's just sitting there and taking it.

Oh, and "Bitter Frost" is really silly.

Marc Burkhardt said...

I dunno, this book reminds me of the old Conway-Andru Spidey - which is a development I appreciate but admittedly isn't for everyone.

I also like how May's problems are the inverse of Peter's - he was a social outcast early own while she's a popular girl worried about letting others down.

It's still the best Spidey title out there in my estimation, which is saying something when the competition is Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane.

(Forget the 616 garbage ...)

Marionette said...

I'm glad some people are liking it, though I'm guessing you are long time fans. My main basis for evaluation is how it reads to new readers, as the whole point of relaunching it was to get new people reading it.

Bitter Frost annoys me no end for several reasons, but the main one has to be that it has nothing to do with the rest of the story, and is just padding it out for the trade.

James Meeley said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Wow. Nice seque from comic review to personal attack, there.

Marionette said...

I've been insulted by James Meeley. I feel so special.

He does have a point about the contrast between May and Frosty. If that had actually been developed in the story it could have given it a lot of coherence. Unfortunately May's sense of responsibility was undercut by her letting her friends down, and Frosty was continually being apologised for.

In fact the contrast in the story was that Frosty, who was doing bad things, was validated, while May, who was trying to do good, was villified. But neither achieved any insight into their situation from the conflict, so any point was lost.

And James, if you want to discuss the topics I write about, I suggest you restrain yourself from the personal abuse. It's not big and it's not clever, and it undermines any valid comments you make. Plus I'll delete them.

Anonymous said...

...the hell with the personal attack?

Anyway, yeah, I agree the Bitter Frost thing just makes it a bit too full-of-stuff for newbies.

Anonymous said...

I'm a new reader and I'm enjoying it enough. The plot from issue #1 that's still going on is just a background thing anyway- it doesn't feel like padding, there's been a lot of action.

As for her social life problems, they seemed real to me. Yes, prioritising is good, but it's easier said than done when you're right in the thick of everything. I've been there.

The Frost girl was familiar, but I thought the execution was good.

Paul S. said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Paul S. said...

(Sorry accidentally double-posted)

You know back when I was writing at 411 Comics I once did a column theorizing that the reason that Spider-Girl seemed to drift into near cancellation status year after, year after year was due to... well a pattern of weak writing, lame villains, and awkward dialog. I stated that I believed that the only way the book was going to increase sales would be if they changed the creative team and found a writer a little more in-tune with teenage characters with Defalco.

Anyway someone posted a link to my column on the Spider-Girl message board and all of a sudden I’m getting all of these e-mails talking about how Defalco’s some kind of last bastion of old-school values in Marvel Comics, that he was the best in the Marvel Bullpen at keeping continuity straight, with some even going as far to saying that MC2 Universe was the “real” Marvel cannon. (I suppose I’m perfectly content with the fake variety.)

A year after that column I logged onto the Spider-Girl message board out of idle curiosity only to find a letter writing campaign organized not because the book was on the chopping block, but to try and get multiple newspapers to do stories about Spider-Girl. See this was around the time that Mary Jane and AraƱa were getting some coverage in mainstream newspapers and the Spider-Girl fans were apparently up in arms because other comic books about teenage girls were being given attention. They were seriously convinced the market wasn’t big enough for two books about teenage heroines.


So in short, in an ideal world Spider-Girl probably wouldn’t last a year… but I’m going to guess it is going to stick around solely because the people who buy it aren’t it’s alleged target audience so much as a rag-tag group of good girl fan boys, burned out Iron Age fans, and people who actually liked the Clone Saga who would probably letter bomb Queseda’s office if the book got cancelled.

Anonymous said...

I thought that DeFalco had done a pretty decent job of bringing new readers up to speed on the comings and goings of the MC2 Universe, but I'm a carryover from the last series, so I may be filling in gaps that he's left so far without thinking about it.

Beyond that, this is kind of what DeFalco did a lot in the last series. He likes to combine the super-villain stuff with gangs/Kingpin/criminal overlord stuff, and make these gang wars that carry on for quite a while. In the meantime, May usually ends up fighting an odd assortment of villains (to have some action amongst all the planning), and generally being oblivious to the coming storm. Which makes sense, May doesn't spend a lot of time talking to snitches, figuring out what the mob bosses are doing, so she goes along trying to save some lives, and suddenly she's smack in the middle of some citywide thing.

Personally, I really enjoy that, but I'm a DeFalco/Frenz guy from back in their days on Amazing Spider-Man, so my bias is pretty obvious. I do agree we need more Spider-Girl, though I kind of like the sneaking around behind her parents' backs.

Anonymous said...

Nice to see James Meeley's tireless defense of some of comics' greatest hacks isn't based on any quality of the work, but how everyone else isn't as enlightened as he is.