May: Spider-Girl, by Paul Tobin, Clayton Henry, et al.

I don’t read Marvel. No particular reason, I’ve just always been a DC girl, and the thought of diving into another shared universe is a bit daunting. But I’m a sucker for plucky teen heroines, and after picking up the first issue of Spider-Girl on a friend’s recommendation, I was hooked.
Luckily, writer Paul Tobin makes it easier for newbies to jump on board. He skims over the details of the universe and the character’s backstory in a way that’s informative, not confusing, and more importantly, he wastes no time in making the reader care about Anya and her world. The first issue presented such a likable, engaging picture of our heroine, and sold me so well on her interpersonal relations, that when she suffered a major personal tragedy in the second issue, I cried all over the place.
Which is not to say that the series is a downer. On the contrary, Anya is a relatively upbeat, feisty kind of heroine, and the pages are crammed with Spider-banter. Tobin manages to hit an impressive balance between serious and often tragic themes and a genuinely fun read.
Oh, and hey, did I mention that Anya is Latina? And that she has several strong relationships with other women, including Sue Storm? Because those things are both awesome.
As for the art well, it’s a mixed bag. Regular penciller Clayton Henry has a clean, sleek style that works well with Tobin’s writing, but the series has been plagued by fill-ins some slapdash, some just not a good fit for the script. I’m not sure if this is cause or effect, but the series has unfortunately been cancelled and there are only two more issues left before it’s gone.
On the plus side, I’m definitely going to be picking up some of Anya’s back issues, and following her further adventures wherever they happen to take her. You’ll make a true believer of me yet, Marvel!

Violence: A pretty modest amount for a superhero book. Nothing gory.
Sexualized Violence: None.
Gender: Anya has several close female friends, Sue Storm is a mentor, and there are two recurring female villains.
The Bechdel-Wallace Test: I’m pretty sure every issue passes.
Minorities: Raina and her father are Hispanic, and her group of friends is multiethnic.
Parents May Wish to Be Aware: There is character death, but it’s handled tastefully. Audience is probably tweens and up.

  • Review by Jessica Plummer