Schachat's Occasional Breakdown
Schachat has been threatened with cancellation
Spider-Girl #1 is trying to do what its predecessor
had trouble accomplishing: bringing enough fans into the
Spider-Girl to keep the book from getting cancelled. A couple
weeks ago they gave us Amazing Spider-Girl #0 to
catch us up on the plot. Sure, they charged $2 for what
any rube at a public library could get from Wikipedia, but
at least they tried.
This issue demonstrates
the other problem with the series: an assload of characters
populate this world. All the friends at school and friends
of friends and parents of friends and employers of parents
of friends– it’s a lot to fit into 22 pages.
And somehow Tom
De Falco and crew pull it off.
story opens up by telling us what Spider-Girl is NOT when
May “May Day” Parker’s friend Jimmy shows
her the pages of the Spider-Girl comic he and Wes
whipped up. Ever since May retired as Spider-Girl, people
seem to be hankering for her return, but she promised her
Mom that she’d end the madness and try being a normal
teenager for a change.
Of course, the
comic book definition of “normal” means running
for class president, volunteering at a shelter after school,
quitting the Basketball team because you’re too good,
and being friends with jocks, preps, geeks, and nerds alike,
so reality is still blissfully removed from the picture.
life may not last when she bumps into some toughs trying
to get at one of the girls in the shelter, though...
the amount of effort that’s gone into this first issue,
it still doesn’t look like new readers are suddenly
going to flock to Amazing Spider-Girl. The massive
continuity has been boiled down into a neat little boullion
cube for the moment, but readers know it’s going to
melt once the plotlines get heated up.
also a problem with the size of the audience. Much of Spider-Girl
could easily appeal to the girls reading manga today, but
the comic companies need to get something through their
thick skulls: they chased off that demographic a long time
ago. The girls who would’ve been raised on Spider-Girl
learned the language of graphic narrative from Fruits
Just like action
fans flocked to the widescreen style for its emulation of
major action films, manga fans go for certain visual cues,
panels that aren’t jammed with tiny text, and different
artistic sensibilities than you’ll get from Ron Frenz
and Sal Buscema.
since Amazing Spider-Girl doesn’t look like
it’ll be picking up many readers from other Marvel
comics or the manga readers, who’s their audience?
I hate to say it, but this is like a book comic fans would
want their daughters to read. The names are warm and familiar
to a longtime Spidey fan, the teenage drama is timeless
and the art is solidly superhero americana.
the plot picks up, I’m sure May Parker’s story
will be just as fun as ever. I just don’t think they
can expect the audience to grow much more. Spider-Girl
will be kept alive by the same thing that’s powered
her for years now: loyal fans. ‘Nuff said.
Blake Vampire Hunter: Guilty Pleasures #1
is, if nothing else, a great sign that Marvel is realizing
they need to shift focus more towards the bookstore crowd
that makes their trade paperbacks increasingly profitable.
Their new partnership with Dabel Brothers Productions is
only going to help them there.
cross her. Get it? Cross?
Anita Blake also makes for quite a nice comic. Adapted from
Laurell K, Hamilton’s story by the same name, this
series finds us with the experienced Vampire Hunter turned
“Animator” (granting movement to corpses, not
cartoons) as new laws have granted legal citizenship to
Vampires in the United States. Still, one of the bloodsuckers
turns to her for help when Vampires start turning up dead,
even though that’s not really her racket.
But who is behind
the murders in the new Vampire Club District? Why are Ghouls
rising from their graves? What is going on with Anita’s
friends’ bachelorette party at a Vampire Strip Club?
If you look at
the great vampire stories, you inevitably find they’re
more about tension than action. That may be why vampire
comics so frequently fail. The medium has been spoiled by
the need for instant bloodshed. The EC horror tradition
was lost for so many years that it seems we never really
Blake is just sopping with the atmosphere that makes
vampire stories stand out. Primal and somewhat erotic with
imminent death always a distinct possibility, yet we’re
always kept just at the brink. That’s the golden spot
where vampires belong.
This book keeps
us there by building up the textbook crime thriller while
the vampires work their seduction on the crowd. Anita doesn’t
fall for it and keeps pointing out the cards up the magicians’
sleeves, but not even she can explain the real mysteries
going on in the wings. Stacie M. Ritchie’s adaptation
keeps the material from getting cartoony and Brett Booth’s
clean yet spidery style puts us nicely on the borderline
of attraction and repulsion.
of the Anita Blake novels may not care so much to see their
treasured heroine in a “funny book," but fans
of vampire comics just got a new reason to head to the store.
2: The Authority #1, The Flash #5, Gen 13 #1 and Wildcats: