Three spider-girls walk into a web – what happens next will delight and frustrate you.
The first Spider-Girls was a fun but slightly unfocused debut issue, more interested in following up on the continuing adventures of the Parkers of Earth-18199 than it was tying into Spider-Geddon proper despite some weighty lore implications largely laid at the feet of our precognitive Spiderling. So, how does the second issue of this tie-in fare now that Annie Parker knows that the Web of Life and Destiny is at stake? More or less the same, if slightly more frustrating because we’re closer to a supposed conclusion. Its equal footing in the Earth-18199 storyline, an attempt to perhaps finalize that story after the half-finale of volume four of the Renew Your Vows series, as well as its foot in service to the Spider-Geddon story makes it feel lopsided and uneven — fun in bursts, but strangely interested in its own purposes for a book so integral to the larger happenings of this big event its in service to.
What’s it about? Marvel’s preview reads:
A SPIDER-GEDDON TIE-IN!
• SPIDERLING’s parents have gone to fight the Inheritors! Now she has to prove that MAY PARKER and ANYA CORAZON made the right choice bringing her on their mission!
• The mysteries of the SPIDER SOCIETY have been protected for centuries, but our heroes are running out of time to unravel them!
• And if the Inheritors learn about their mission, the SPIDER-GIRLS won’t just be racing the clock – they’ll be running for their lives!
If that sounds like a lot to cover, it’s because it is, and what’s captured there is really only the ‘Geddon specific stuff as writer Jody Houser tries to weave in some character-focused threads, narrowing in on May’s feelings about Spiderling’s world, some more development for the six-armed Normie Osborn, and more. It’s simply too much to remain tenable for one issue’s narrative, to the effect that each story element kind of feels floaty and unrealized, certainly without fitting closure coming in the series’ conclusion next issue. That being said, the delivery here is still endearing and earnest in a way that few Spider writers outside of Houser have captured, especially for the central Spiderling who is about to be thrust into a much larger world, or worlds, and grapples very openly with the implications of that as well as her part in them to great effect. May’s feelings about heroism and how its changed her life, and a back and forth debate with Normie about the absurdity of all of this Spider Totem stuff which he has the audacity to mock with his six arms is especially good as well. It’s largely good stuff, just spread too thin, and in service to too many purposes.
More confident, however, is the artistic effort shared between artist Andres Genolet, and colorists Jim Charalampidis and Triona Farrell. It’s still undeniably strange that Annie Parker’s parents look to be the same age as her, but aside from that, things here are solid, fun, and funny. The tonal balance between Spider-Girls, Spider-People (more spider than people), Spider-Normie, and the devious Inheritors is well executed without tipping the scales too heavily into either levity or seriousness. Sight gags like Normie telecommuting to work because of his arm…situation thrown into contrast two Inheritors descending on an unsuspecting bystander help cementing the effect.
All in all, this is book trying to be two, or more things, and succeeding in serving their needs but not without fault in each of its efforts. It’s endearing, earnest and character-focused, with a good eye on the larger picture, but also floaty, aimless and a little too lopsided for its own good. A great Spiderling story under any other circumstance, but a Spider-Geddon tie-in that’s held back just ever-so-slightly because it refuses to lean into that event despite acting like it is wholeheartedly.