The art of Kevin Blythe Sampson

THE ART OF
KEVIN BLYTHE SAMPSON

11/21/10

Marvel Comics' New Spider-Girl: Tough Girl Without the Boobs

Marvel Comics' New Spider-Girl: Tough Girl Without the Boobs

5 days ago
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The crime-fighting world needs a heroine about now.
And not Wonder Woman in her redesigned 21st century jeggings and short jacket that makes her look more like she's headed for the nightclub than a Justice League meeting.
Enter the rebooted Spider-Girl.
Marvel Comics debuts the teen-aged super heroine Wednesday. While Marvel has previously created a Spider-Girl, this one is retooled with less connection and sidekick action to Spiderman.
The original Spider-Girl, first appearing in 1998, was the daughter of Peter Parker, aka Spiderman, and Mary Jane Watson, his sweetheart he later marries. That Spider-Girl had a costume very similar to her father's.
Not the new one.
Spider-Girl is her own woman in a masked, skin-tight, black latex costume with a silver spider gracing its front. Oh, and she has a Twitter account. Her tweets also double as thought captions in the comic. Some recent tweets include, "I look good in black" and "Dear Everyone. Spider-Man is NOT my dad / brother / boyfriend / evil twin."
But on one tweet, Spider-Girl even hints at a crush (maybe?) on Spider-Man. "And then HE saved ME from a tentacle! He moved FAST. And he felt...umm...let's just say he must work out."
Will Spider-Girl get more Twitter followers than Sarah Palin or Lady Gaga?(Likely not, unless one of them guest stars in her adventures.)
According to Spider-Girl author, Paul Tobin, Spider-Girl's twitter account is "a sort of DVD extra: a behind-the-scenes look at what makes Spider-Girl tick."
Oh, and if you want to know where Spider-Girl is, no dice. She turns off the location notifier for her tweets. Better to fool the enemy.
While Marvel says that Spider-Girl is aimed at everyone, she may just be the heroine teenage girls need right now. What young woman doesn't need an alter ego to fight the mean girls? Spider-Girl is tough, sassy and takes no prisoners. In her second adventure out in December, Spider-Girl tackles the gigantic Red Hulk, a villain in the vein of the Incredible Hulk.
In May, Hope Larson, a comic artist, undertook an informal survey on her Web site to find out what 'tween and teenage girls want in characters. "Girls want to see strong, in-control, kick-ass women calling the shots," she wrote. She also discovered that girls did not like the objectification of female super heroines and that "pink, sparkly cutesy comics about boyfriends, ponies, cupcakes and shopping are widely reviled."
Maybe Spider-Girl creators took note of these suggestions. She appears tough and not incredibly buxom or curvy in her costume, as some super heroines are drawn to attract the eye of male readers. Instead, she's lithe, reminiscent of Diana Rigg's Emma Peel from "The Avengers," the 1960s British television show, as she swings through the city searching for trouble and the bad guys – or girls.


Spider-Girl is the alter ego of Anya Corazon, the daughter of a famous investigative journalist, who was raised to seek out truth and justice. But a Spider Society sought her out to become a crime fighter. At some point the Spider Society's sorcerer was forced to transfer some of his power in order to her to save her life. She then received a spider-shaped tattoo bestowing her with enhanced strength and agility. She was trained as a combat martial artist by some of the best fighters in the world and helped her hero, Spiderman, in a battle. Now, she is ready to fight solo. Think Beatrice in "Kill Bill."
In a sample of the comic book sent to Politics Daily by Marvel, Spider-Girl takes on Screwball, a girl criminal who films her crimes. Her latest: Stolen figurines from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Spider-Girl, with her flowing brown hair, punches out Screwball in the face. A cop on the scene to arrest Screwball says, "Hey, you're a kid . . . just a girl."
Spider-Girl retorts, "I'm not JUST a girl."
Good for you, Spider-Girl.
Hopefully, Spider-Girl will remain tough and hard-hitting without having a horrible fate or having to call for reinforcements from the Marvel Universe to assist her. DC Comics ruined Batgirl a few years ago when the Joker shot Batgirl, paralyzing her. She later re-emerged as Oracle, an information gatherer in a wheelchair, only to be re-christened later as a new character in a redefined role as a tough crime fighter. In fact, Spider-Girl was previously christened Arana but has found rebirth as Anya now. But confusingly, she keeps aspects of Arana's backstory. Such is the way in the comic universe, where heroes die and are reborn -- sort of like daytime soap opera characters or politicians who reinvent themselves after scandal. It keeps people tuned in.
In 1946, female comic book readers outnumbered males. These days, boys read more comics than girls. But maybe that will change with Spider-Girl if girls give her half a chance, and she doesn't become too moody, dark and the Emo girl next door or perky with a Care Bear T-shirt trying out for the cheerleader squad – a modern day Betty or Veronica.
"If you have the will to do right, you have the responsibility to the world," states a tagline in the Spider-Girl press materials. Not a bad motto for people who need to find an adventure, solve some problems and stop whining on Facebook.
Filed Under: Media, Woman Up
Marvel Comics' New Spider-Girl: Tough Girl Without the Boobs