Rave : 2000 : Tom on Top
No one is on a bigger roll in Spiderdom than Tom DeFalco with Spider-Girl. His stories are fresh, his surprise endings have oomph, and his characters have substance. There isn't a better example of DeFalco's sharp characterization than p. 7 of Spider-Girl #18. On that one page, in seven panels, Tom introduces a throwaway character and instills him with more life than Spider-Woman, the Sandman, and that obnoxious guy from Tricorp put together. His name is Theo Rudolpho and he is a courier in New York City's diamond district. We learn that his wife's name is Linda, that "they met at a church dance almost thirty years ago" (and still love dancing with each other), that this is their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary, that they have at least two children, and that the entire family is awaiting Theo's arrival at home to begin a big celebration.
What does all this information do for us? It gives just enough of a glimpse into Theo's life to personalize his pain for us. In panel #3, he is lifted dozens of feet into the air by the villain known as Raptor. By the final panel, he has fallen back to earth and Tom tells us, not only that Theo will be hospitalized, "struggling to breathe through a tube in his throat" while his family waits at home unaware, but that "it will be months before he can walk" and, worst of all, "he will never dance again".
One page. Seven panels. Which elicited more empathy from me than the supposed death of Mary Jane or ten issues of Mattie Franklin. Take a bow, Tom!
(And, as an aside, allow me to direct your attention to the letter page in Spider-Girl #19. When asked, "What happened to Aunt May?", the column editor replies, "In the MC-2 Universe, she actually died and stayed dead." Sort of makes you wish the MC-2 Universe was the MC-1 Universe, doesn't it? Take another bow, Tom!)