Arana #6

Background

Anya is the chosen one of the Spider Society. Amun is a sneaky Egyptian assassin working for the Sisterhood of the Wasp. They're mortal enemies who share a history class. Lynn is Anya's best friend in all the world. She has the hots for Amun. Anya knows what Amun's capable of (threatening stereotypical fathers, stabbing mages... that sort of thing) so when Lynn forces Amun on to a date, Anya has to tag along. Then a completely unrelated maniac pulls a gun and opens fire.

Story Details

  Arana #6
Arc: Part 6 of 'In the Beginning' (1-2-3-4-5-6)
Articles: Arana

The gunman from last issue continues to blaze away with gay abandon, while Anya protects the cowering Lynn with a handy coffee table. Amun has made no attempt to dive for cover and is sitting on his chair regarding the whole thing with polite interest. Anya reflects that she can't sit and do nothing while innocent people are in danger, and when the gunman finally levels his weapon at Amun, she cannot stand by and see her enemy shot dead either.

Grabbing a handy sugar-cellar from the floor, our heroine vaults over the table and throws it at the advancing gunman. It strikes the side of the gunman's head and renders him unconscious, as Anya tackles Amun to the ground and safety. Amun struggles to his feet, knife in hand as Anya calls for the other patrons to flee the scene (not that they need much encouragement).

Amun misunderstands the situation. He thinks that Anya attacked him. When he realises that she actually acted to save him he is at a loss for words. Why would she do such a thing? Meanwhile, Lynn has regained her senses. She is surprised that Anya isn't more freaked out by what happened. Anya glosses over this, but then Lynn asks who knocked out the gunman. Anya is quick to give Amun the credit, much to the assassin's surprise. Lynn announces that Amun is a "total hero", which garners a despairing look from the Egyptian youth.

Amun has no choice but to go along with Anya's story, and when the police arrive he is required to give a statement. As Lynn talks to the cop, Anya wonders what was really going through Amun's mind. He had a knife in hand when she tackled him. Was he about to use it on the gunman or on her? Does he think so little of her, that he believes she would have used that moment to attack him? Anya begins to doubt if she did the right thing in saving him.

Meanwhile, Nina delivers Miguel back to his apartment. The mage is still out of sorts and is only just back on solid food. He doesn't want her company, however, and heads off to find his bed alone. Outside, Nina contacts Ted and asks him to hack into the security cameras around Miguel's building and keep an eye on him. He is vulnerable at the moment, and the Wasps might try something.

At a local police station, Lynn gives a truthful statement to a police officer, while Amun takes Anya to one side. At first, Anya thinks Amun is going to try something, but that is not his intention. He asks Anya why she tried to save his life, even though they are mortal enemies. Anya replies truthfully that she unsure. She says that it is not her to way to let anyone die, and even though Amun's ethics are entirely the opposite it's not her place to be a judge and an executioner.

Amun accepts this. He says that Anya is the first person to show him any respect since arriving in the USA, and he will return that respect. He promises to respect her secret identity and to stop targeting her friends and family. He will end his personal vendetta. Then Amun's guardian, the magus Vincent, arrives to collect him. Anya and Amun exchange a few words over how sucky having Vincent as your legal guardian must be.

Anya muses that she could try and get Amun and Vincent arrested while they are here. She is not serious, but Amun takes her seriously. "Don't screw it up for both us," he says, putting his hand on her shoulder. Anya rejects this inappropriately friendly advance, and throws him off. They're cool for now, she says, but he has to go. Vincent sees this altercation, but doesn't recognise Anya as Araña. He thinks Amun was flirting. "Flirting huh?" replies Amun, "Well, she's worth it."

Outside, Vincent tells Amun of Miguel's weakness and that they should be able use magic to move against the mage in his apartment. He says that Araña is the truth strength of the partnership and they should easily be able to take out the mage. Amun agrees. He asks how the last Hunter died and Miguel lived, if the hunter is so much more powerful than the mage. That, says Vincent, is a story for another time.

Anya's father arrives and smothers his daughter with worried affection. On the way out, Lynn notices that Anya's tattoo has gone and Anya says that she had removed as a salutary lesson to stop Lynn getting one. Then Anya gets a phone call from Nina. Nina says that she is worried about Miguel and wants Anya to go to his apartment just in case the Wasps take advantage of Miguel's incapacity.

Later in the evening, Ted is getting doughnuts and completely fails to notice Vincent, Amun and other Wasp flunkies using magic to sneak into Miguel's apartment block. Vincent thinks Amun fears Miguel slightly, as he had the power to survive Amun's attempt to kill him. Vincent doesn't fear Miguel: he pities him. Miguel never gains any peace because of events in his past. Of course, this won't stop Vincent torturing and killing the mage.

They arrive in Miguel's bedroom to find the mage awake. He can't fight back, but he is not alone. One of the Wasp flunkies arrives in the door and collapses. Araña is here, much to Vincent's surprise (he still thought she had abandoned Webcorps). Anya feels betrayed that Amun is a part of this after what happened earlier today. Amun candidly explains that he promised to stay out of Anya Corazon's private life, not Araña's. This is just business and he has to earn his keep with the Wasps.

Anya wipes the floor with the Wasps' well-attired goons and turns to Amun and Vincent. Miguel calls for her to shield her eyes and dazzles his enemies with a flash of light. Araña takes the opportunity to grab the mage and jump from the window, she races off into the night and the safety of Webcorps.

At Webcorps, Anya explains her 'understanding' with Amun to Miguel and Ted. Amun didn't try to follow her this evening, so he is obviously operating under some sort of honour-code. After firmly establishing that Miguel is her sidekick rather than her partner, the mage falls into an exhausted sleep. He is now under protective custody until he is well. This leaves Anya alone to muse about her mother. She has accepted her responsibilities, but did her mother know this was going to happen to her? And if she did, why did she never tell her daughter?

General Comments

I really don't know what to make of Fiona Avery. Her writing has a bizarre Jekyll-and-Hyde quality about it. Last issue was truly awful, but this issue was bordering on excellent. It is by far the best issue featuring this character to date, and actually a lot better than most of the other stuff Marvel put out this month.

We have major character development people, and the comic is greatly improved because of it. Amun has gone from being a rather slimy villain into a fully realised, three-dimensional character in the course of this one issue. He isn't a Wasp flunky, he isn't a robot - he has his own ethics and he has a reason for doing what he does. And frankly, on the strength of this issue I want to see a lot more of him.

The scenes between Anya, Amun and Lynn were well written and genuinely amusing. Roger Cruz's slightly cartoony style is well suited to the facial expressions - particularly Amun's horror when he realises that Lynn's infatuation has reached new heights.

But by far the best thing about the issue is the growing relationship between Amun and Anya. By "relationship" I don't mean romance (although it may come to that) - but something passed between them in that police station. It was a realisation that they have more commonalities than differences. This can go somewhere, this should go somewhere - if everything else gets left by the wayside, I plead with the creative team to do something with this!

Despite this praise, there are still some logical inconsistencies in the issue. For example, if Miguel was such an obvious target for the Sisterhood then why move him out of the safety of Webcorps in the first place? However, I'm prepared to overlook them this time as the rest of the issue is so good.

There really isn't much else to say. On the strength of this issue I want Araña to continue indefinitely. I want to see Amun and Anya working together against both the Spider Society and the Sisterhood of the Wasp. But above all, I want this book to be as good as this every month. That shouldn't be too much to ask for, should it?

Overall Rating

Maybe I'm feeling perverse, maybe it's the lack of sleep, maybe it's because the baby needs changing, but I really liked this issue. Smart, funny, well- characterised, well-plotted and with great potential for the future. An unrepentant four and a half webs.