Amazing Spider-Girl #8

Background

Throughout her husband's super hero career--and now her daughter's--Mary Jane Watson-Parker has had to deal with the constant fear that the ones she loves might be hurt or killed. Her recent emotional breakdown led May to give up being Spider-Girl temporarily, but May's recent return to the webs has put MJ in a quandary. Does she have the right to keep her daughter from fulfilling the great responsibility her great power has given her?

Story 'The Closet!'

Things are a little tense at Casa del Parker. Underneath the light banter of an otherwise typical morning, the shadow of Spider-Girl hangs over both their heads. MJ knows what her daughter is and knows that she has the power to do good, but can't quite bring herself to allow her to do so. As May leaves for school that morning, MJ knows that she is only delaying the inevitable.

May is going through a typical day at school until a friend of hers, Sara Hingle, suffers what initially appears to be a migraine. Before her stunned classmates, bands of pure energy erupt from Sara's body and wreak havoc in the classroom. Sara is powerless to control them, and most of the students flee. May stays behind to try and talk her down, but is thrown into a wall.

Later, MJ comes to school to pick up May and Vice Principal Slattery tells her that Sara has been taken to a "local medical facility," and that several parents have already called to say that they don't want their children going to school with "super-powered aberrations of nature." May and MJ try to visit Sara, but the facility--which May likens to a detention center--refuses to allow her entry. The two decide to visit Sara's parents and are given an earful from Sara's father, who accuses Sara of embarrassing the family. "What if your daughter was the freak," he asks MJ, "the monster with strange powers?!"

(Subtle, Mr. DeFalco. Very subtle.)

MJ talks to Peter that night and, the next day while May is at school, MJ decides to visit the Hingles again. She finds VP Slattery there already, and learns that Mr. Hingle has decided unilaterally to ship his daughter off to "one of those boarding schools for gifted muties." Mr. Hingle threatens to throw MJ out of the house until his wife intervenes, and MJ talks to him about supporting their children no matter what they become, and that the power he has as a parent also comes with responsibility.

While this is happening, May has decided to try and visit Sara when she stumbles across Sara walking back home. Sara tells her that she was released, but the scrubs she is wearing tell a different story, and May doesn't buy it. Sara freaks out and unleashes her energy bands again, but May deftly avoids them and jumps into the circle of energy. Sara realizes that May has powers too but has learned to live with them, and begs her to help assimilate back into normal life. May takes her home, where she is greeted warmly by her mother and not so much by her father. May and MJ leave for their home, but Vice Principal Slattery compliments MJ on her efforts before they leave and offers her a job at Midtown High as a guidance counselor.

MJ and her daughter walk home, trading banter like they did at the beginning of the story, but when they arrive MJ hands her back her Spider-Girl costume, telling her that she and her father discussed the matter the previous night and decided it was the right course of action. May Parker is Spider-Girl once again, with her mother's blessing.

General Comments

This was a nice one-shot story, and benefits immensely from the Mary Jane narration. We've seen this side of MJ before: the worried wife and mother who nevertheless steps back and allows the people she loves to do what they do best. It's been done but she is such a powerful character that it has worked and continues to do so. DeFalco's story suffers a bit from dialogue that is as subtle as a brick upside the head, and Sara's parents were a bit cliched (we've seen the harsh, unforgiving father and the heartbroken mother a few too many times), but overall the story arc gets from point A to point B. While MJ's final decision is expected, it still pays off.

Not much else in this one, although it would be nice if we ran across Sara Hingle again somewhere down the line so that she turned into something more than a throwaway plot device. Tom DeFalco has some good story material in Sara, and hopefully he uses it. There are also some cute scenes with Peter and Baby Ben, but overall this is MJ's story. It's not perfect, but it's certainly not bad, either.

Overall Rating

Tom DeFalco hits the plot anvil too many times for my taste, but an otherwise good and downright touching look into the life of Mary Jane Watson-Parker. Four webs.