Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Alas, Poor Mayday: The End of Spider-Girl as We Know It

While this isn't one of the posts I mentioned last time, I thought I would take the time to babble about one of my favorite superheroes, Spider-Girl! Alternate-future Daughter of Spider-Man!  Marvel's Longest-running Female-lead in a Comic Series to Date!  Reason for the Creation of the MC2 Universe!  Soon-to-be Replaced Character!

Sorry, Mayday, but it seems your time as the friendly neighborhood web-swinger is over!  Y'know that new on-going Spectacular Spider-Girl series that I mentioned before?  The one I was really, really looking forward to?  It was changed from on-going to a four-issue limited series before the release of the first issue, and tomorrow (or today, depending on your time-zone), the one-shot comic Spider-Girl: The End will be released.  According to Tom DeFalco her co-creator and only writer in her thirteen-year history, this one shot will end all of May "Mayday" Parker's adventures for the foreseeable future.  Not only that, but it seems that AraƱa, a spider-themed super-teen from the main Marvel continuity will be taking over the title of Spider-Girl with a new series this November (here's info on the first issue).  Not that I have anything against Anya, but she's just not Mayday.

Since she seems to be going away for a while, now seems like a good a time as any for me to ramble about one of my favorite superheroes: 

This is neither the first time Spider-Girl's been canceled, nor the first time it was supposed to be permanent.  After an eight-year run, her first series was supposed to end with her death and the destruction of her home universe, a plan that was fortunately scrapped and I really hope wasn't revived for this issue (since Tom said that she may be brought back in the future, I don't think it was, but in comics you never know).  Her second on-going series, Amazing Spider-Girl, was canceled after thirty issues and her Spectacular Spider-Girl back-up feature in Spider-Man Family and Web of Spider-Man ran for twelve issues.  All together, Spider-Girl fans have nearly one hundred and fifty issues to horde cherish.  I actually feel kind of lucky to have come so late to the scene; most of Spidey's adventures are still new to me and waiting for me to read them for the first time.

I first ran across Mayday pretty much by accident.  When a friend introduced me to superhero comics Ultimate Spider-Man was one of the first series he loaned me and I used Wikipedia to look up information on the different versions of the characters (a dangerous technique that should not be employed by anyone who doesn't want a face-load of spoilers), and thus I learned of Spider-Girl's existence (y'know, the fictional kind).  Sometime later, I stumbled upon a volume of Amazing Spider-Girl in a friendly-neighborhood bookstore and flipped through, eventually buying it and becoming completely hooked on Mayday's "old school" style adventures.

Despite the similarity of their code-names and costumes, there are quite a few differences between May and her father Peter.  Let's look at a few of them:
  • While Peter was a constantly bullied by jocks for being a geek in high school, Mayday is both smart and athletic, being both a top student and a star basketball player.  She's also very popular and close friends with geeks and jocks alike.
  • Unfortunately for her, though, May did not inherit her father's ability with a camera and her photography is terrible.
  • Unlike Spider-Man, Spider-Girl gets mostly good press, even from J. Jonah Jameson, out-spoken Spidey-hater (some of you might remember him as that angry shouting guy from the movies).
  • May's parents know all about her powers and secret identity.  It's not like it would be easy to hide: "Look dear, some girl about our daughter's age is swinging around town on webs, wearing something that looks a lot like your old costume!  Boy, I wish May was here to see this instead of having to run off on some mysterious errand!  I wonder who this 'Spider-Girl' could be?"  Some things are too much of a stretch even for comic books.
  • Like Peter, Mayday became a hero and continues to dawn her mask because of her deeply ingrained sense of responsibility.  Unlike Peter, however, she does it so that no one will be hurt because she could have done something and didn't, not because someone already has.
Don't think that the list above means that the series is angst-less, though!  May is still a Parker and she inherited the Parker Luck: her secret identity wreaks utter havoc on her private life.  If she's battling it out with Crazy Eight or some other super-baddie, you can bet her friends will think she ditched them for something stupid and that she needs to straighten out her priorities.  Also, her parents knowing that she's Spider-Girl and her parents liking it are two very different things.  She still sometimes has to web-swing behind her parents backs.  And let's not forget love triangles; it seems it's impossible to be a Parker without them.  So, yes, Spider-Girl does have angst, though neither the same type as Spider-Man nor as much.

Even with the obligatory Spider-hyphen-angst, the series brings back some of the techniques and feel of the Silver Age of Comics, and is-- dare I say it-- fun.  The series has a lighter, more all-ages tone than a lot of comics out today, and I at least find it a refreshing series.  Growing up with manga, I have no problem with the "decompression" that's so popular in today's comics, but there's something refreshing about fast-moving plots.

Now that it's past midnight here, I guess I should get back to the topic at hand.  Here is a quote from the end of Tom DeFalco's interview with Newsarama:
"No one can truly predict the future. Is it possible that Mayday will return in a few years? I guess so. If I were to bet on it, I’d say one of our current readers will eventually grow up, break into the business and be the one who revamps Spider-Girl for a whole new generation," DeFalco said. "As far as I’m concerned, I truly believe that this will be the last time I ever write Spider-Girl."
Spider-Girl is coming to an end, but this that doesn't mean that Spider-Girl: The End has to mean "good-bye forever," though it is certainly the end of an era.  I can always hope that someday Spider-Girl will return for more adventures.
I'm not writing this to accuse Marvel of conspiracy against things I like or to tell everyone to hunt down this series and make it your favorite so it will be brought back.  I just want to babble a bit about something I like and to thank Tom for all his hard work over the years.  Also, it's not to late to check out this series for the first time; the first Spider-Girl series is being released in "digests" (collections slightly taller than a standard volume of manga) and Amazing and Spectacular are both available in trade paper-backs.  Check it out.  It might not be for everyone, but maybe you'll like it, and just maybe you'll gain a new favorite.

So, until next time, folks!

Make Mine Mayday!

Oh, and here are the links to the two interviews with Tom DeFalco again.  'Night, all!

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