Let me preface this by saying of all of the Spider Island tie-ins slated to be in the rotation, probably the one I was least looking forward to reading was the Spider-Girl miniseries. Just as a general rule of thumb, I’ve never been terribly engaged by the idea of taking a female and giving her similar powers and costumes to the established male characters. So, in addition to Spider-Girl, I’m also including Super Girl and Bat Girl to the mix.
I’m much more interested in unique female superheroes who have their own set of powers and are not trying to latch on to the success of a previous male character. X-Men has had these female superheroes in abundance, such as Jean Grey, Storm and Rogue. For you DC fans out there, you could also say Wonder Woman, though I still don’t understand how she rides around on an invisible airplane.
So what to make of this Spider-Girl miniseries? At the risk of having this evolve into a review, which I think is unavoidable given my lack of interest in the character – there’s a lot of backstory to digest here and I’m not so sure if this issue gives me the incentive to either do the research necessary, or track down the other comic books where things are explained. The story stars Anya Corazon, who’s Spider-Girl but actually doesn’t have spider powers until the Spider Island virus takes over. Don’t quite get how she can be Spider-Girl then, but I’m sure that just makes me sound critical for the sake of being critical.
But what grabs as an Amazing Spider-Man devotee is the twist ending of this first-part, and it’s quite honestly what’s going to keep me coming back to this miniseries for its two follow-ups. After being rounded-up by the Hobgoblin – in one of the first true cases of continuity between Spider Island spin-offs considering the ending of Spider Island: Deadly Foes advertised that Hobgoblin would be showing up in Spider-Girl – Anya is face-to-face with one of Spidey’s all-time greats, the Kingpin, who has been infected with spider powers.
As an addendum to yesterday’s argument about the Jackal, I’m going to come across as a complete hypocrite here and heap some praise on Kingpin. Perhaps it’s because his first appearance was in what may go down as one of my favorite issues of Amazing Spider-Man of all time. But despite not having specific superpowers, and despite hiding behind mercenaries to do his dirty work, I’ve always had more respect for Kingpin as an upper echelon villain. Perhaps what differentiates Kingpin from the Jackal is rather than seeking vengeance against Spider-Man because of some delusional and creepy obsession with a younger woman, Kingpin does what he does in the name of organized crime. And maybe it’s because I love The Godfather, Goodfellas and The Sopranos, that I can relate to that “wants to be king of the world” mentality rather than Jackal’s “you killed this woman I love, even though I was never actually with her,” spiel.
Additionally, like any crime boss, Kingpin has been known to take the situation into his own hands. He can physically hold his own in a fight, despite his rotund figure, which is even more impressive. Plus, I love the guy’s backstory. He was picked on as a kid, so to get back at these bullies, he learns hand-to-hand combat and ends up intimidating these goons into joining his gang. You have rappers who always seem to be hanging posters of Scarface on the walls of their “cribs,” but how about a little love for Wilson Fisk?
Kingpin with spider powers is a scary proposition. He’s already a strong, skilled fighter, with unstoppable ambition. Actually give his superpowers and he may end up being one of the most powerful supervillains in the Marvel canon. While I know the name of the series is Spider-Girl, I hope writer Paul Tobin uses the remaining two issues to explore how a superpowered Kingpin impacts the dynamics of the Marvel universe, and I certainly have my fingers crossed that the new Fisk works his way over to the ASM flagship title.
All images from Spider Island The Amazing Spider-Girl #1: Paul Tobin, Pepe Larraz & Andres Mossa