Spider-Girl: Family Values

Spider-Girl: Family Values
Spider-Girl Family Values review
  • North American Publisher / ISBN: Marvel - ‎ 978-0-7851-4694-0
  • Release date: 2011
  • UPC: ‎9780785146940
  • Contains adult content?: no
  • Does this pass the Bechdel test?: yes
  • Positive minority portrayal?: yes
  • CATEGORIES: Superhero

As Araña, Anya Corazon’s introduction to a superhero career began with intrigue and an interesting background as seen in Heart of the Spider. However, by her final solo outing in Night of the Hunter less than ideal art, repetition and plot convenience dragged the series down below average. Following that Anya bopped around the Marvel universe, most prominently as one of the Young Allies, and during a mission with them her super powers were removed.

Paul Tobin’s approach for the reboot is to have Anya claim the Spider-Girl name she’s been landed with, and to use what had been established as prodigious athletic and gymnastic abilities to maintain a costumed crime fighting career without super powers. He also discards the previous ties to Webcorps, and institutes the idea of a Twitter feed as Spider-Girl tweets comments and posts videos while she’s in action. That narrative device continues when she’s just plain Anya, texting back and forth. The most controversial change made, though, removes a consistent supporting character in what’s almost a cliché as well as a piece of button-pushing shock. The problem is not that it happens, but there’s no good purpose for it to occur, at best underlining how superhero battles generate casualties.

If there’s any feeling Tobin’s direction is possibly wrong, it evaporates with where he takes Anya’s story. He’s convincing when it comes to the way a girl in her mid teens thinks and behaves, and while it may surprise that he funnels in so many mainstream Marvel guest stars, the way they’re used is memorable, especially Susan Richards as a surrogate mother. He follows up on Spider-Man: Grim Hunt, one of two stories where villains who can’t cope with Spider-Man presume Spider-Girl will provide an easier victory.

The sample art is from Clayton Henry, who draws more pages than anyone else, but as clear and appealing as they are, he obviously had problems with deadlines, as other artists, most prominently Sergio Cariello, step in to draw pages of his chapters. Matthew Southworth has a grittier style, reminiscent of Michael Lark, although looser, and it’s ideally suited to a two chapter chase across New York.

Tobin keeps throwing in creative touches that seem only to be that, yet have later relevance (yet not all of them do), and although for a long while it seems a subplot about Anya’s creepy neighbour won’t pay off, it does in the end. The suspicion, though, is that Tobin’s intention was to have it run longer, and it’s completed to provide closure as the series ended. It’s a neat collection, matching the best of Anya’s previous run, and showing the promise to improve from a good starting point.