Spider-Girl #24

 Title: Spider-Girl
 Posted: 2004
 Staff: Wildman (E-Mail)

Background

The sensational Spider-Girl is set to hit the streets as the Daily Bugle's hottest new photographer, but she learns the negative side of the biz in an encounter between the original Iron Fist and a young challenger for his power. Get the picture?

Story 'Dragonfist!'

  Spider-Girl #24
Summary: Iron Fist, May As Photographer
Editor: Mike Marts
Writer: Tom DeFalco
Pencils: Pat Olliffe
Inker: Al Williamson

The career of Spider-Girl has plateaued of late. She hasn't fought anyone of substance for weeks, and opens this issue whupping on a quartet of simple thieves. But more interesting is the job opening her father is subtly endorsing (a bit of a 180 after his initial reaction): Daily Bugle news photographer. Peter suggests that it could help her keep tabs on criminal activities, but is shocked when May admits she'd be in it more for the money.

Before anything can develop along those lines, a young, shirtless man in a green mask is discovered robbing a bank. The man emerges, revealing an oddly familiar dragon tattoo on his chest, and smashes through the police barricade with ease while shouting his desire "to be acknowledged as the world's foremost martial artist!" Peter and Ben Urich, later arriving on scene with the crime scene investigators, can't help but think the burglar bears a strong resemblance to Daniel Rand--the former superhero Iron Fist--who retired years ago after the death of his wife. Despite his misgivings, Peter cannot deny the connection.

Meanwhile, May has shown up for her first assignment at the Bugle and is paired with a veteran photog. To give May some exposure to the business, the two are assigned to cover a martial arts movie being filmed in the city. The lead actor, Spike Yi, bears the same tattoo as the mysterious bank robber. Mr. Yi denies that he was the thief, pointing out that the symbol comes from the myth of K'un L'un. This is confirmed by the appearance of Daniel "Iron Fist" Rand himself, who insists that a teacher can "visit his former student." Yi leaves May and her colleague to speak with his personal assistant, and the two martial artist retreat into a back corner to talk, not to mention spar. Rand admits that the mysterious Dragonfist might have tapped into the power of his Iron Fist; Yi adds to his doubt by felling him with a simple foot sweep. "Go back to your dojo, Danny. Only the worthiest of the worthy can handle the Iron Fist. I'm afraid your day has passed."

May, having watched the exchange, manages to snap her first roll of film only to discover, after a session in the darkroom, that there isn't a single usable shot on the roll. Davida suggests that she ask her father for advice, but MJ tells her that Peter's off on a case. In a flash, May realizes that they are probably checking out Spike Yi, who is too much the obvious suspect for her liking. Popping into her webbed spandex, she makes her way across town only to stumble across the Dragonfist himself.

Dragonfist stuns Spider-Girl with a brutal kick to the head, and is stopped from killing her by the reappearance of Iron Fist. Iron gets Dragon in a headlock, trying to "suck" the power of the chi out of the usurper's body. Problem is, it doesn't work, and Dragon blows him across the room. This has given time for Spider-Girl to recover, and as she attacks her seemingly invincible foe, she realizes that the source of his power is coming from his belt. Iron Fist hears this and smiles, ignoring any lingering doubts about his worth. He successfully channels the power and fells Dragon with a blow to the midsection. (You might say it was a snap.) The force rips his mask to shreds and Spider-Girl recognizes him as Yi's personal assistant, complete with a personal force field in his belt. Satisfied that justice has been done, Iron Fist walks away from the scene declaring that "the days of Iron Fist are over. At least for now!"

General Comments

Not bad. I've always liked Iron Fist (despite a general disinterest in martial arts) and I was glad to see that the issue focused more on his doubts and fears as opposed to the one-note bad guy. He reminded me a lot of a character in the "Ultimate Spider-Man" short story anthology who gave up his costumed identity and later discovered he'd lost his powers. (The story is called "Suits" and it's well worth the read, by the way.) And yeah, you KNOW that Rand is going to get his power back in the end, which took some of the fun out of it for me. Maybe if he had permanently lost his power and decided to fight anyway...? Either way, I love seeing classic Marvel characters make an appearance in Spider-Girl. It's always interesting to see what they've been up to.

Regarding May's new "career," well, it was about how I'd expected it to go. I won't bore you yet again with my opinion on this storyline only to say Jonah's getting pretty naive in his old age. Working one of those cameras is a lot harder than your basic 35mm. "Point and shoot" indeed! Other than that, not really a whole lot to say about May in this issue, since she's pretty much in the backseat this time around.

And I'd like to close in saying that I got quite a chuckle out of the ongoing Peter-Ben Urich sub-plot, which I mostly omitted from the review for fear of spoiling it. Nice job, DeFalco! (Now how 'bout a glossary in the back of this issue for those of us who don't speak "Iron Fist?" K'un Lun, Shao Lao, ov vey!)

Overall Rating

Not quite a Kodak moment, but pretty good. May gets a nice warmup for her anniversary issue next month. Three webs.

 Title: Spider-Girl
 Posted: 2004
 Staff: Wildman (E-Mail)