Spider-Girl #5

Background

Spider-Girl first appeared in What If (Vol. 2) #105 in February 1998 and the alternate reality she lived in was eventually spun into a whole universe called MC2. She is May Parker, the daughter of Peter Parker (the original Spider-Man) and Mary Jane Watson-Parker. After hitting puberty, she inherited her dad's spider-powers and decided to follow in his heroic footsteps. These stories occur very early in her crime-fighting career...

Story 'A Touch Of Venom'

  Spider-Girl #5
Summary: Venom Symbiote Bonds With Peter
Editor: Tom DeFalco
Writer: Tom DeFalco
Pencils: Pat Olliffe
Inker: Al Williamson

We start with a one-page prologue. The Venom symbiote is being kept at a secure government facility inside a patented “plexi-steel” cell. Some dumb guard taunts it with the Daily Bugle newspaper article about Spider-Girl (from last issue). This is, of course, the worse idea ever because the symbiote immediately rises up and smashes out of it containment unit.

Elsewhere, our story really starts exactly where we left off last issue. May and Peter are arguing about her escapades as Spider-Girl. The fight ends with May running out of the house and slamming the door as she leaves. She decides a walk will help to cool her off. Peter and MJ are left alone to discuss the situation. MJ finally convinces Peter that he can't just ignore May's desires and that he should help guide her through this difficult time. He reluctantly agrees, puts on a coat, and goes off to find her.

Something else finds him first, however. And that something is the Venom symbiote, of course. So, as May is returning home she is suddenly assaulted by several familiar black tentacles. We get a full page reveal of Venom in his new guise – a buffed up, blue-tinted Spider-Man costume with Venom's head (slavering tongue and all). Now he's calling himself Spider-Venom!

He lunges at her but she jumps away. Then he shoots some more tentacles at her. She tries to disarm him with the only weapon at her disposal (remember, she is out of costume and doesn't have her webshooters) – her witty banter – but he counters with a classic psych-out. The symbiote pulls away the face mask to reveal her father! She is so shocked by the sight that he easily lands his next punch, knocking her to the ground. But before he gives her the killing blow he changes his mind (because otherwise this series would be over) and runs away. Say what? He says he wants to “prolong the torment” and that he will be visiting her home soon. Whatever, dude.

May rushes back home and MJ gives her a shortened version of Venom's origin. May suits up and tells her mom to contact the Fantastic Five (this reality's Fantastic Four). MJ doesn't want May going out to confront one of Spider-Man's most deadly villains all by herself. But May says she could be her dad's only hope. Spider-Girl's first stop is the police science lab where her Uncle Phil is working late. You see, Phil used to be the Green Goblin (the heroic one, version IV, I think) and once upon a time he had a special sonic attack that he call his Lunatic Laugh. And that just happens to be exactly what she needs to stop Venom. Sorry, I mean... Spider-Venom.

Speaking of which, our villain is biding his time by dropping a big, bad litterbug off a nearby roof. Before he can fall to his death Spider-Girl swoops in and saves him. How'd she find her quarry so quickly? Let's just call it Spider-Expediency. Spider-Venom then starts in with the taunting again, calling her “a disobedient child” as he swings away. He doesn't get far, though, because Uncle Phil is waiting on the ground.

Apparently, they are fighting on some elevated train tracks, although it is hard to tell because the background is very gray and generic. Anyway, Spider-Girl is standing under some tracks and Spider-Venom follows. He gets a kick in the head and smashed thru some window for his trouble. Then, he picks up a pillar and tosses it at her. She ducks. Now they both wind up on the ground. Phil tries his Lunatic Laugh and at first it seems to be working. Venom is immobilized and in pain, but then he throws a car at Phil which, needless to say, stops the sonic attack.

May gives in to her anger (thinking her Uncle Phil has been killed) and lashes out with some vicious kicks and punches. Spider-Venom blathers on and on about how precious innocence is (his usual lame spiel from his “Lethal Protector” phase) and how Peter spoiled it for Venom so long ago. Spider-Girl doesn't engage him, she just keeps hitting him until he finally falls down. But, Spider-Venom's finally had enough talk, rises up, and swears now he will kill her. Then he's hit by another sonic wave. Is it the Fantastic Five arriving? No, it's Phil. He's alive and screaming again with renewed force! The suit quickly melts off Peter.

They return home together (uhh, did they just leave the symbiote a puddle on the ground?). Peter is even more against May's heroics now. He says monsters like Venom are why he wants to keep her safe. I think there is an allegory here for a father being overprotective of his daughter. He is also upset that Uncle Phil encouraged her. He says he will talk with him later.

Cue tomorrow, at the police crime lab. Peter has an awkward conversation with Phil. He is kinda circumspect, but tries to get the point across that he doesn't want May to be Spider-Girl anymore. After work, Peter tells MJ the problem is solved, but it seems he was too vague and Phil took their conversation the wrong way. He tells May that Peter wants him to train her and keep MJ out of the loop! Uh oh, that little misunderstanding doesn't bode well for future issues.

Meanwhile, the Venom symbiote returns where it began the story, in a “plexi-steel” cell in a no doubt even more secure government facility.

General Comments

Spider-Girl is still new at this superhero biz and her parents definitely don't approve. Will she hang up her costume forever? This is an interesting take on the life and struggles of a new superhero and a good continuing theme for this series because it differentiates her from all the other (ahem) Spider-Clones out there, but I don't know how much longer this can draw it out. (Spoiler alert - at least for three more issues!)

Overall Rating

At one time I ate up everything Venom-related, but those days are long past. This villain really clashes with the otherwise breezy, light-hearted tone of the book. Plus, this was way too weak of a showing for such an originally fearsome foe. They could have at least made it clearer that Spider-Venom didn't really hurt May because Peter was restraining its more lethal tendencies.

In Amazing Spider-Man #5 Peter fights Doctor Doom, a villain that was really out of our hero's league and didn't fit into his “world” very well. So, I guess you could say this issue kind of parallels that one. Let's keep the symbiote appearances few and far between, shall we?