Marvel has finally released Spider-Girl: The Complete Collection Vol. 2 and the first question I had after finishing it was… when’s the next volume coming out? And the next after that? Basically, Marvel just needs to release the whole series in trade paperback format as soon as possible, because it’s a spectacular example of what ongoing superhero comics should strive to emulate.
Why do I say that, you ask? Well, this volume (which collects Spider-Girl #16-32) is free of many of the trappings of modern comics, and that’s what makes it so refreshing. Aside from an issue or two, everything in here is by the same creative team of writer Tom DeFalco and artist Pat Olliffe. And when Olliffe does need a break, it’s always Ron Frenz filling in. It all makes for an amazingly consistent reading experience that’s hard to come by in trades that collect modern runs. Then, there’s the fact that the ongoing story being told here never veers off into crossover land. This is just classic Marvel storytelling that makes you think of Stan Lee and Steve Ditko and not “The Clone Saga.”
I know I’m not alone — Spider-Girl has always been a cult hit, which is why I’m shocked it’s taken Marvel so long to put these collections out. And while some of the “teen talk” and references in here are a bit dated, I strongly believe this is a perfect gateway series for new readers of any age and gender. That’s because the same things that made teenage Peter Parker so relatable are on full display in May “Mayday” Parker’s adventures.
Now, for readers who have no idea who exactly this Spider-Girl character is, a quick refresher. May is Peter and Mary Jane’s daughter. We’re in the MC2 universe. It’s the future. Spidey lost his leg in battle. Reed Richards’ brain is in a little, creepy robot’s body.
OK, it’s starting to sound pretty bleak, but I swear, this universe is a lot of fun!
If you read the first Spider-Girl Complete Collection, this volume offers up a lot of the same. May continues to navigate the ups and downs of high school (does she like Brad or JJ???) and the superhero life (that Nova sure is a jerk!), while a colorful cast of rogues never stop causing trouble. The stakes are never too high, but that doesn’t mean DeFalco and Olliffe don’t explore some interesting angles. There’s the Golden Goblin, for example, a heroic answer to all those villainous goblins that are always causing trouble. Then there’s the troubled Normie Osborn, whose rivalry with May takes an unexpected turn. And why exactly is Spider-Girl riding a goblin glider for multiple issues? Well, you’ll just have to read and find out!
One of the most interesting standalone stories in this trade is Spider-Girl #23: “The Girl With The Power.” Here, May learns that a fellow student has gifts of her own, though she doesn’t share Parker’s views on power and responsibility. These are the kinds of stories today’s event-driven comics don’t always have the time to tell.
Despite all this series’ strengths, there are some underwhelming bits. The high school stuff does get a little tedious after a while. But that’s probably because I’m no longer in high school. Someone younger would likely get more mileage out of Moose and Carly’s relationship drama. Also, a lot of the villains are pretty meh. Sorry Funny Face… and Mister Abnormal… and Sabreclaw… and Killerwatt. Yeah, these are actually these bad guys’ names and you can probably guess their powers by them.
But yeah, beyond those few nitpicks, there’s not much else to complain about here. Spider-Girl lives up to the hype and if you’ve never read an issue, you should definitely give volume 1 a shot. Trust me, you’ll love it… and then you can pick up volume 2.