Arana #8

 Title: Arana
 Posted: 2005
 Staff: Neil McClean (E-Mail)


The Sisterhood of the Wasp are playing hosts to various crimelords in the hope of forming some sort of alliance. Araña, Miguel and the Spider-Society are out to stop them. They have already detained the first invitee, Lady Chi of the Serpent of the Triads, but this is just the first step. Meanwhile, Anya has started to dwell more on her mother's murder and the reason why she and her father moved from Mexico when she was five years old.

Story Details

  Arana #8
Arc: Part 2 of 'Night of the Hunter' (1-2-3-4-5-6)
Articles: Arana

Flashback! Anya is dreaming of her mother's funeral. The mourners are gathered around the coffin in a well-to-do Mexican home. Suddenly a man with a long moustache, hat and cane appears at the scene. Anya's father passes his daughter to one of the servants and demands that the man leave. He is outraged.

Miguel is watching Anya's dream. He fears that she will fully remember what happened in her past. He doesn't know whether she is mature enough to deal with it. He sees much in common between the pair of them. Both had tragedy in their childhood. We see a scene from the South American jungle. Miguel as a child the soul survivor of his village. Around him trees and tepees are burning.

It is snowing in New York city. Anya drives her scooter to work and arrives a little late (and freezing) to the briefing. Having taken out Lady Chi, the Spiders intend to work through the conference members one by one. Their next target is South American crimelord Felix Jade (pronounced HAA-DAY, as Anya tells Ted at length). They don't know why Jade is dangerous, but suspect he has some sort of mystical mind control powers. Ted has whipped up a headset for each of them that should disrupt his mind control and make them immune. He shows all of them Jade's picture.

And that's when it hits Anya. This is the man from her dream. This is the man that killed her mother. The rest of the briefing is lost on her. She determines to bring Jade down herself. To bring the man to her father, and prove that the killer of his wife has been brought to justice. This is personal. It is not a matter for Webcorps. It is a matter of vengeance.

Meanwhile, Vincent has already picked up Felix Jade and is transporting him in his limousine through New York. They are pursued by the police (Jade is wanted by the CIA), but Vincent has the matter in hand. Ahead of them is a lift bridge, and Amun is already there. After despatching the attendant, Amun lifts the bridge allowing Vincent to levitate the car to safety, leaving the CIA stranded high above the ground. On a near-by building Miguel watches the scene. He radios Nina and tells her that they will move against Jade in two days after he has been worn down by the local law enforcement.

However, Miguel senses something is wrong and returns to Webcorps where he discovers Anya sneaking out of the building with Ted's experimental gear. Miguel immediately realises that Anya is going after Jade on her own. He tries to reason with her. He says that he knows Jade was "allegedly" responsible for the death of Anya's mother. But Anya is not to be stopped with words. Miguel is forced to use his magic and bind her to a pillar with a magical web.

Miguel knows that his magic cannot hold Anya for long. He contacts Ted and gives the order: they are moving against Jade immediately. They are going to try and take him down before Anya can involve herself. Suffice to say that our heroine is more than a little annoyed at this turn of events.

General Comments

Well, I was wrong. Amun wasn't captured by Webcorps last issue. This is pretty ridiculous given that Miguel had him trapped in a magical net with Papa Fei, who was (presumably) a man they did lock away. Amun is arguably Webcorps most dangerous opponent, as well as an international assassin. Why on Earth did Miguel let him walk away? I would like to think this was a plot point, but I haven't got that much faith in the creative team any more.

The comic therefore continues to keep Amun and Anya apart. I think this is a mistake given the direction Avery was taking things back in issue #6. Avery ignores the far more interesting angle and continues to play up the crime conference, which leaves me rather cold.

Of course, the big reveal in this issue is that Felix Jade allegedly murdered Anya's mother and Anya is out for revenge. This should be an interesting story with great ramifications for Anya's character and the direction of the title. Unfortunately, Jade's appearance is so abrupt, that it lessens the impact greatly. If Avery had told us that Sofia Corazon was murdered before this point, and we had seen Anya dreaming about Jade in previous issues then the revelation that Jade is the killer could have been handled much more dramatically.

However, it is what it is and we are left with an issue where very little actually happens. Avery cranks up the tension at the end by having Miguel turn on Anya and for the first time it seems that Miguel is becoming a slightly less one-dimensional character. However, he has a very long way to go before even Avery's greatest fan would call him well rounded.

It would also seem that Lady Chi was just a warm-up act and the meat of this story-arc is Araña versus Felix Jade. There is still time for Avery to redeem the precipitous introduction of this plot. I am willing myself to be interested in what happens next.

Overall Rating

A healthy foreshadowing of Anya's hunt for her mother's killer would have improved the issue; instead we have a story that completely blindsides the reader. It's not bad stuff, but it's not all that good either. Three webs.

 Title: Arana
 Posted: 2005
 Staff: Neil McClean (E-Mail)