Spider-Girl #44

Background

Shaken by her recent errors, May Parker seeks guidance from her family's past, finally learning all about her "Uncle" Ben (or does she?) But will it be enough to get her life--and her career--back on track?

Story 'Cry Uncle!'

  Spider-Girl #44
Summary: Return of The Scarlet Spider?
Editor: Tom Brevoort
Writer: Tom DeFalco
Pencils: Pat Olliffe
Inker: Al Williamson

Raising a teenage daughter is hard enough, but raising a teenage superhero is harder still. For Peter Parker, the temptation to come down hard on his daughter May is a hard one to break, and the story begins with Peter berating her for letting her web fluid run low. May snaps back, already feeling bad about letting Angel Face and Funny Face go last issue. "How many times did you mess up when you were web-swinging?" Peter claims never to have messed up, but one look from Mary Jane sends them both into spasms of laughter.

Peter, however, feels bad about the argument, and tracks down May as she and Davida are discussing the locker thefts around Midtown High. May panicks, thinking that MJ is sick, but Peter swears that he only wants to talk. The two walk down to Central Park, and Peter spills the beans about his greatest mistake: the death of his beloved Uncle Ben. "I guess that's why I've been so hard on you. I don't want you to make the same mistakes I did." May understands, but finally voices a question about HER Uncle Ben.

Peter fills her in on the Cliffs Notes version of Ben Reilly's life, omitting the rather crucial fact that Ben was a clone and not "some kind of nephew" of Aunt May's. May absorbs all of this, as well as Peter's promise that she'll learn everything "in time," but is visibly shaken. The burglar and the Green Goblin both hit too close to home, and she can't help but wonder if she's created the same situation with the Faces. Her uncertainty does not go unnoticed, and as May returns to school, Peter travels across town to the Baxter Building to meet the Fantastic Five. "I'm afraid that the responsibility of being Spider-Girl is finally starting to overwhelm her. She can't do it alone anymore. She needs someone she can depend on, a partner she can trust. It's time for the original Spider-Man to strap on his webs again!"

May arrives back at school, after making a quick detour to help out a wannabe super hero named Charlie, who ends up using his powers to trash a costume shop but surrenders after Spider-Girl talks him down. At the end of the day, May returns to her locker... to find it empty. The locker thief has struck again! And he/she's found May's Spider-Girl costume....

General Comments

BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

(Don't worry, I'll elaborate.)

Let's hit the good stuff first. The costume theft at the end of the story is one heck of a left turn, and I heartily approve. First thing I learned in high school is that you never keep ANYTHING you don't want stolen in your locker, of all places. Looks like May just found that out the hard way. So now somebody knows who Spider-Girl is, hmmm? Can't wait to see where this is going.

So Peter's going to don the webs again, huh? Interesting. I see a couple of problems on the horizon, though. First off, if Peter finally accepts the F5's bionic leg that Reed Richards made for him (see Spider-Girl #7), exactly how will he explain that to anybody he knows? Even in the Marvel Universe, people just don't grow new limbs (unless they turn into large, man-hating lizards, but that's not really germane.) Secondly, if Peter tries to re-start his career without the bionic leg, doesn't that put him at a severe disadvantage? Especially considering he has let himself fall out of playing shape over the past 15 years or so? Then again, maybe that's what DeFalco has in mind. Ish #50 is right around the corner, and writers often save the earth-shattering stuff for the anniversary issues. You don't suppose...?

Charlie? Filler.

Okay, on to what cheesed me off. First off, the story was heralded as the "Return of the Scarlet Spider," when the only thing it did was rehash Ben Reilly's life. Disappointing, but expected. That I can live with despite the hype. But what really angered me was Peter's lies. Hello! Ben was not "some kind of nephew," he was a frickin' CLONE, and if May is old enough to ask about her Uncle Ben, she's old enough to hear the truth. Peter's daughter wanted to know, to REALLY know about Ben Reilly and Peter gives her some half-truthed nonsense. BOOOO! I'll grant you that it's not exactly the easiest thing to hear, but this is a girl that has a sixth sense, can walk on walls, and has buckled her swash with some of the most bizarre people of her time. She could handle it. And if Peter didn't think that lunch was the time to do it, he should have waited until later for the full story. 'Nuff said!

Overall Rating

A story that could have been pushing four webs has to settle for a measly two. A major disappointment.