A gang war pits brother against brother. Mary Jane Parker's unborn child is in danger. The new Spider-Man is dying. In the face of all that, what can even Spider-Girl do?
The gang war. Nancy Lu. Brad Miller. Jimmy Yama. Jack Jameson. All of these concerns mean nothing to May Parker now that her mother is in the hospital. She arrives in time to here the doctor's diagnosis, a less-than-comforting "she's stable for now. We'll talk later." May, along with her father and Felicia Hardy, go in to talk to Mary Jane for a few minutes. Peter, out of his wife's earshot, urges May to stay out of trouble for MJ's sake. May agrees, allowing as how the new Spider-Man can fill the void. Peter tells her what he learned from Julia Carpenter last issue, and May decides to track him down and talk to him. "How dangerous can that be?"
Meanwhile, Kingpin operatives Mr. Nobody and Crazy Eight are meeting in a New York landfill. Nobody is concerned that CE is considering a defection to Canis' side. CE assures him that he only went to see Canis last issue to persuade him to cut his brother--Funny Face--loose before he gets hurt. Unconvinced, Mr. Nobody teleports to the prison library where Wilson Fisk is residing. He tells the Kingpin that CE has "been cozying up to the other side. I don't know if we can depend on him when the lead starts to fly."
While May is searching for the new Spider-Man, her friends are busy searching for or avoiding each other. Brad Miller has discovered that Jimmy Yama was seeing his girlfriend Heather behind his back, and he's none too pleased. But while Jimmy finds an friend in Jack Jameson--busy with his own women problems--Brad's ally Moose might be in danger of losing his girlfriend Courtney, who can't believe that he would want to hurt Jimmy.
(I hope you're paying attention, because there will be some questions later.)
Back at the hospital, Peter and Mary Jane learn the truth about her condition, and the news is not good. "I've detected a number of troubling anomalies with this pregnancy... and Mary Jane is at considerable risk." MJ asks about the baby, and the doctor tells her that they need to make a very difficult decision. There is little chance that the baby will survive and be healthy. Peter and MJ talk for awhile. Peter, fearful for his wife, wants to end the pregnancy. Mary Jane disagrees. "I come from a family that often takes risks... for the things that matter."
Outside of the Canis Kennels, Spider-Girl finally tracks down Spider-Man. He tells her to get lost, until she reveals that she knows about his disease. Spider-Man ends up telling her the whole story--how he was put into the machine that gave his mother her Spider-Woman powers, how it didn't cure him, and so on--but is interrupted by gunshots from inside the kennel. Spider-Girl urges him to wait, but he throws himself into the fray. "You just don't get it, girl! I CAN'T AFFORD TO WAIT!"
Minutes earlier, inside the kennels, Canis and Funny Face were discussing their plans. The gang war is proceeding nicely, to the point where Canis considers recruiting Crazy Eight. FF objects at first, but calms down when he realizes he doesn't want his brother dead, he's just tired of living in his shadow. The two are interrupted by Mr. Nobody, who teleports in to murder them both. And he nearly succeeds in killing Funny Face, but is foiled by the appearance of Crazy Eight. Hearing gunshots, Spider-Man crashes through the front window. And Spider-Girl stays on the rooftop, paralyzed by her promise to stay out of trouble.
Spider-Man fights valiantly, but is no match for the three villains. Canis backhands him right into Mr. Nobody's path. He raises his gun. Spider-Girl, who has sat back during the entire battle, finally moves. Nobody's finger tightens on the trigger. Spider-Girl lands in the kennel. She pushes Spider-Man out of the way as Mr. Nobody fires. The bullets miss them. They hit Crazy Eight. And he crumples to the floor. Dead.
Okay, I admit it: I thought Phil Urich would be the one getting the toe tag. When I heard the title "Death in the Family," it never occurred to me there was more than one family that might apply to. The sad part is I'll probably miss Crazy Eight more than I would have missed Phil. Not that I don't like Urich all right. I just like psychos more. Can we have a moment of silence here?
I liked this issue very much for two reasons. First of all, I've been asking for something like this for who knows how long. I'm kind of bummed that they killed my favorite Spider-Girl bad guy, but this book needed a darker story, and now it just got one. Could May have prevented his death--without sacrificing Spidey--if she had joined the fight earlier? That's a question she'll be asking herself for quite some time. And that's part of the price to pay for donning the webs.
Secondly, I really liked the brother-brother dynamic. Being a younger brother myself, I sympathized with Funny Face's plight to get out from under Crazy Eight's shadow. And CE, whatever his faults, did his job. He died protecting his younger brother. Funny Face may not have realized that he loved his brother before, but he certainly does now. May is going to have to be careful with this one; FF will be out for her blood now. I look forward to seeing where this goes.
As for Mary Jane, what can I say? Whether one agrees or disagrees with her decision to keep the baby, it's definitely a courageous choice on her part. The hospital scenes were well-written, even understated considering they take up four whole pages in the comic. Tom DeFalco DOESN'T veer off into melodrama, thankfully. This could be a very powerful storyline if written properly. Or it can turn into an overdramatic tear-jerker if written ham-handedly. It's definitely off to a good start.
The best issue of Spider-Girl I've read in awhile. Four webs. And bring back Crazy Eight! ;)