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Spider-Girl  
-by Andrew Goletz

Rating: 7.5 out of 10

Amazing Spider-Man: 1 out of 10
Peter Parker (Romita Jr. art) 4 out of 10

Years ago, Spider-Man/Peter Parker was interesting. He was married. He had a
baby on the way and he was finally growing up. In an effort to try and please
fans that wanted a return to the free-spirit who wasn't tied down with family
responsibilities, Marvel took a risk and introduced Ben Reilly, a clone of
Peter Parker who was claiming to be the real Peter Parker.

I was one of the most vocal fans in support of the entire clone saga and of
Ben Reilly in particular. It was like having the best of both worlds. I tried
to use Gray Haven as a forum to support the story line and keep Ben around.
Marvel's solution was to resurrect Normal Osborn (after he had been dead 20
years in a classic issue) and have him kill Ben Reilly, have the Parker's
baby stillborn and return the recently deceased Aunt May (who passed away in
a perfectly written JM DeMattius issue). They also brought John Byrne aboard
to do a Spider-Man: Chapter One re-telling of the first year of Spider-Man's
career and had Peter Parker quit (again) and then go back to being Spider-Man
(again). To make it more interesting, he didn't tell Mary Jane he was going
back to being Spider-Man. I suppose lying to his wife was true to his
character's roots, or so the writer's though. Mary Jane eventually found out
that Peter was Spider-Man again, but they didn't have time to discuss it
because she was apparently killed in a plane crash right after finding this
out.

I read the core Spider-Man titles for the same sadistic reason that a moth is
drawn to a flame. I'm 15 years older than the books core audience, but even a
12 year old can see through the slap hazard writing that's being put into the
titles. I don't think an original word has been spoken, panel drawn or plot
been undertaken since the Spider-Man revamp began 2 years ago. I thank God
that former Hellblazer, former Inhumans and current Incredible Hulk writer
Paul Jenkins is taking over one of the books. Jenkins did a 3 issue run on
the now canceled Webspinners (canceled because we're not allowed to read a
good Spider-Man book) and it was the best Spider-Man story I had read in
years.

So what does this have to do with Spider-Girl? Well, Spider-Girl is an
alternate reality type story in which the daughter of Peter and Mary Jane
lived. She's now in her late teens and has inherited her father's powers as
well as his sense of responsibility and has become Spider-Girl. Written by
Tom Defalco and penciled by Pat Olliffe, this book captures the look and feel
of what Spider-Man used to be like for all of us.

The book is fluff, plain and simple. It isn't targeted for people like me,
and with characters like the Golden Goblin and Funny Face, you know we're not
in for high art. But the book is fun. The essence of Spider-Man is a down on
his luck guy who just can't win at anything and escapes his problems by
getting into a costume, and cracking wise on bad guys while he beats the hell
out of em. That's what young May Parker is doing now in Spider-Girl and it's
a welcome relief.

It's also been hinted at that one of the supporting characters, Darkdevil, is
Ben Reilly resurrected somehow. The reappearance by clone villain Kaine last
fall's story line helped fuel the rumors, and piqued my curiosity.

There is a pleasure that comes from see what has happened to familiar faces
like J Jonah Jameson and the 'what if' scenarios have a strong influence on
the appeal to the book.

The fact that I had a letter printed in issue 17 and had another fan mention
me in issue 20 has nothing to do with my support of the book. Seriously, in a
time when the current creative teams seem to be testing our patience with how
much we take before we burn the books, it's a relief to read a Spider-tale
with a true sense for the appeal for the character.

Yes, Spider-Girl isn't part of the 'real' continuity. True, it's geared to an
even younger reader set and a female group, at that. But if you're looking to
read fresh Spider-Centered tales that don't seem redundant or forced, then
for now, Spider-Girl is the place to go.

Copyrightę2000 Andrew Goletz