Amazing Spider-Girl #26 (Story 1)

Background

As if it weren't bad enough that there is a replacement (clone?) May Parker running around New York that has assumed the real May's life, as if it weren't bad enough that her father is missing and--unbeknownst to May--has been kidnapped by the Goblin cult, but now May Parker is trapped in some netherworld of her mind, and her body has been possessed by Araña for reasons unknown. And you thought YOU had it rough in high school?

Story 'The Replacement!'

Somewhere in South America, Chesbro is meeting with the Black Tarantula and filling him in on the events of Sara Hingle's rampage (issue #24.) BT is unconcerned until Chesbro tells him that Spider-Girl hasn't been seen since the incident and is presumed dead. BT can't believe it, and informs Chesbro that he will fly to New York to personally find out what has happened to Spider-Girl.

The Black Tarantula would be even more upset were he able to see inside of Araña's hideout, where the enigmatic superwoman has emerged from a coma in possession of Spider-Girl's body. While she marvels at May Parker's form, her servant Michael chastises her for stealing it. "I'll return it as soon as I'm finished," she replies just before swinging off into the city. Michael wonders what has happened to the real Spider-Girl

Meanwhile, May regains awareness in her mindscape to find herself confronted again by the blond woman (also named May) and the Spider creature, who has shrunk since their last encounter. The blond woman tells May that she will have to travel a great distance to track down Araña and "drive her from the land." The land then morphs into a modern day shopping mall.

At Osborn Industries (in the real world), Normie, Kaine, Darkdevil and Brenda are monitoring a security feed showing Peter Parker's capture at the hands of Fury, the Goblin Queen. Fury, meanwhile, has convinced her father to tell her more about Project: Changeling. She learns that he does not know which May is the real one, and that Peter Parker was kidnapped so that he might be the true heir to Norman Osborn's legacy. She then decides to act; as Kaine and the others debate how to get close to Fury, she calls Normie directly with an offer to deal.

One of the other super heroes alerted by Kaine and his cronies was Phil Urich, who calls the girl he believes to be May Parker. The duplicate May answers the phone and agrees to help, but wonders whether she is ready to be Spider-Girl.

The woman currently inhabiting Spider-Girl's body has no such doubts. Swinging through Forest Hills, Araña overhears a collection of thugs discussing how the Black Tarantula is offering serious money for Spider-Girl. Araña jumps into the fray and immediately starts beating up every thug she can get her fists on.

Back in May's mystic mall, May heads down into the lower level with the blond woman and the spider creature in tow. She is suddenly attacked by a band of rats--yes, mallrats; May thought it was pretty corny, too--and realizes that the way to beat them is to work with the spider creature. The two of them take out the rats in short order, much to the blond woman's delight, and then find themselves standing in front of an enormous metal door. The blond woman tells May that she has to "breach Araña's sanctum and drive her away." At a loss for ideas, May pulls the mask of the spider creature to discover that it doesn't have a face. The blond woman tells May that she has to fully embrace her identity as Spider-Girl; the two literally embrace and become one. May, now in costume, leaps toward the door and bashes it in.

Back in the real world, Araña collapses in the midst of the few thugs she has yet to subdue. Taking advantage of her weakened state, they beat her unconscious and drag her off to the Black Tarantula. May, meanwhile, awakens in a strange room with several strange men she doesn't know. The truth does not dawn on her until she reaches a mirror: she has returned to the real world, all right...

... but in Araña's body.

General Comments

This storyline is making me tired.

The "Peter Parker is the true heir to the Goblin legacy" thing has been done before and much better. The "Brand New May" aspect has been essentially put on hold, and the whole body-switching nonsense is not only laughable, it really doesn't fit this book. Thankfully, we should be done with May's hero's-journey-in-her-mind for a while, because that was just painful to read (I'm sorry, but I doubt May was the only person groaning at the "mall rats" pun.) And now that May has awoken to find herself in Araña's body, we get at least one more issue with the body-switching plot before dealing with the counterfeit May and some incarnation of Peter as the Goblin, which I guess was inevitable the second that formula exploded in Peter's face a few months back. And that's probably going to take us to ASG #30 and the series' end. Yippee.

My problems with the last two issues are threefold. One, as I stated before, the whole "journey in the mind" thing is about as hackneyed as plots come. Clearly DeFalco wrote this with tongue planted firmly in cheek, but it just comes off as cheesy. Two, after focusing on the duplicate May for so long, the sudden shift in focus to Araña and May at the expense of the new May practically screams "filler." It feels like the main plot wasn't enough to last until issue #30 and the body switching was added in order to pad things out. And third, the ultimate conclusion of the Peter Parker story arc at least seems obvious: Peter will become the new Goblin, May will fight him and bring him back to the good side, fade out, the end. There will be some other twists and turns to the story, but I'll bet that's how it will conclude. And how much fun is it to read a story when you know how it's going to end?

This story arc has become such a disappointment that the old Clone Saga is starting to look good by comparison. Spider-Girl deserves a better ending than the one she is going to get.

Overall Rating

The mall rats pushed me over the edge. One web.