After the promise offered up in the first issue, this issue is a bit of a downer that ends with a very creepy scene. I was enthused by the first issue and the direction it seemed prepared to propel this character into, but the reality is this issue is less than what I hoped for.
With Red Hulk being a “new Wolverine” or other similar sales tweak type of character, it’s a natural to throw him on the cover here and see what happens.
The “what happens” is a flat cameo by the character that serves little purpose other than to cause mayhem and deal up a significant loss for Anya Corazon. Tobin does a great job of filling Spider-Girl’s world with all sorts of connections to the Marvel Universe, but in the end the story of this issue is a catastrophe that feels like it was created solely for the sake of having a catastrophe, albeit a catastrophe as could only happen in a world where the Fantastic Four and Hulk exist. I expected Tobin to keep this title a little lighter in tone and to keep the bounce in the step of Spider-Girl, but such is not the case.
The story itself is one that deals with grief and loss, from the incomplete and frequently incoherent thoughts to the life-changing decisions that spin out of loss such as this. Tobin does a good job relaying that and establishing Anya’s voice through all that. There is no doubt what the character is going through. The use of the Twitter-like caption boxes definitely helps place this character in the here and now, and also provides a method for sharing this story with the reader.
For the most part – the first half and a page or two after – the art is spectacular, but once the platoon of artist help arrives, the visuals become erratic and uneasy. The colors are spectacular throughout, but the figures get struck with a wave of inconsistency. Henry’s art is loaded with detail and a refined line: Hulk’s mass defines his power and strength rather than having every single vein popping out of his biceps. Spider-Girl is lithe and slender, and her movements are that of a gymnast. The splash page of Red Hulk hefting an occupied car over his head about to bring it down on Spider-Girl is worth the price of admission alone for fans of great comic art. As long as Henry is around this book will be in good hands.
The book, itself, has run the full emotional gamut in a mere pair of issues. This issue, while emotionally draining, delivered a story that is believable and intense. I just wish it were happier. With an upbeat first issue and a downer second one, I can’t wait to see where “Spider-Girl” goes from here. So far, it’s a roller coaster ride – or more like a web-swinging ride – filled with elation and joy countered by sorrow and emptiness.