Amazing Spider-Girl #16

Background

Spider-Girl has survived an attack by Hobgoblin and Mindworm designed to trick her into revealing the source of the Black Tarantula's power, of which she was ignorant. Unfortunately, that put her directly in BT's crosshairs, and international crimelords aren't known for taking unnecessary risks....

Story 'Broken Bonds'

Our story begins in Paris, where a United States Senator is making a speech when he collapses in pain. As aides to the Senator frantically search for a doctor, two men are bumped aside by... nothing at all. For the Senator has just been assassinated by a woman wearing a "stealth suit" that renders her invisible. As the assassin returns to her hotel room, she checks out her next assignment. "Wonderful, another costumed adventurer."

Three days later in New York City, May AND her mother are getting ready for school, MJ having accepted the counselor's job at Midtown High. While her mother scrambles to get ready--suffering no small amount of grief from her daughter in the process--Peter is showing off her baby brother's new spider-jammies. "They seemed appropriate," he says. "More than you realize," May replies. With her mother safely upstairs, May tells her father about Ben's spider powers manifesting themselves. Peter is floored by the news, but is relieved to learn that MJ knows nothing yet.

As the two arrive at school and MJ settles into her new job, Chesbro takes a call from his boss, the Black Tarantula, wherein he learns that Spider-Girl has been targeted for assassination. "It's her own fault," BT tells his flunky. Chesbro is visibly stunned, but agrees to do as his boss commands.

Meanwhile, Hobgoblin and Mindworm aren't letting grass grow under their feet. While Hobby keeps brother Daniel imprisoned in his lair, Mindworm seeks out fellow crimelord Fancy Dan and tricks him into revealing that somebody has Wilson Fisk's old files--the same that caused such a stir in issues 1-6 before May gave them to Detective Drasco--and plans to put them up for auction. Hobby tells Mindworm to continue working on the other crime bosses, and phones Drasco to find the files. "This job shouldn't be too difficult," Drasco replies.

At Midtown High, May gets a phone call from Chesbro who tells her she's been targeted "by one of the most dangerous assassins in the world." May pulls on the webs and swings over to meet Chesbro, who gives her a file with remarkably little information on an international killer named "Deadspot." It occurs to Spider-Girl that the only international figure she knows is the Black Tarantula, and she swings off wondering what kind of game Chesbro and his boss might be playing.

After Spider-Girl leaves, Deadspot materializes behind Chesbro and demands the file and the name of his source. Chesbro tells her that if he has to die he wants to know who hired her, and as she is about to tell him, Spider-Girl swings back through the window. Seems she picked up a tingle from her spider-sense the first time she was in the room. Chesbro tries to attack Deadspot from behind but only shocks himself unconscious, which gives Deadspot time to disappear. Spider-Girl uses her spider sense and nails her assailant just as she is about to attack. Stunned that somebody could sense her even when invisible, Deadspot jumps into the elevator and uses a wedding as cover to make her escape.

Not sure about what any of the day's events mean, Spider-Girl swings home for the night, not noticing that last issue's stalker is back outside her front door... and wearing a Midtown High backpack.

General Comments

So is Deadspot working for the Black Tarantula or is she working for somebody else? It would seem at first glance that there is another player on the field, but it did sound like BT wanted Spidey dead (even though he never specifically said HE targeted Spider-Girl for assassination) and when Spider-Girl checked Chesbro's pulse after Deadspot supposedly knocked him out, his pulse was actually stronger than hers. Something is definitely afoot here. And it makes for a good story.

For a single issue story--albeit one with a few ongoing plot devices woven through--this one works very well. Deadspot proved to be a bit of a wuss (one punch and she runs for cover?) but the whole "invisible bad guy" thing can still be effective. The best part of the book, however, was Peter's reaction to learning that his son is already crawling walls. Even the small panels on page 6 are done effectively, as the story is told with pictures instead of words. Nice thumbs up to the creative team on that one. Also, credit is definitely due for the spiffy cover. Considering that a lot of covers these days are merely generic action shots, it's nice to see one that looks great AND has some connection to the plot.

On another note, did you notice MJ's conversation with Vice Principal Slattery where he tells her that she is to be an advocate for the students but that he expects complete loyalty from his staff in the event of a conflict? Methinks Tom DeFalco was a bit obvious in setting up THAT future storyline.

Overall Rating

Not perfect but well worth the money. Four webs for the comic and an extra half web for a truly nifty cover.