Current Reviews


Amazing Spider-Girl #9

Posted: Saturday, June 16, 2007
By: Ray Tate

“Specimen 297”

Scripters: Tom DeFalco & Ron Frenz
Artists: Ron Frenz, Sal Buscema (i), Gotham (colors)

Publisher: Marvel Comics

S.H.I.E.L.D. contracts the Marvel version of the Suicide Squad to guard Specimen 297, during its transport through Manhattan. SHIELD then attempts to stage an Italian Job styled heist of Specimen 297. Spider-Girl gets in the middle of it all. Logic, this is window. Window, this is logic.

First, why does SHIELD hire "The Suicide Squad" to guard something they're going to snatch? Second, why does SHIELD plan the snatch to occur in broad daylight, at the height of the working day, in the middle of a city to endanger the entire populace with what appears to be a biological weapon? Third, why does SHIELD further endanger the populace by treating said biological weapon like a football? Fourth, why would SHIELD give its agents live ammo to possibly damage the biological weapon's containment unit?

It turns out that Specimen 297 isn't a biological or chemical weapon in the purest sense of terms. You may argue that SHIELD probably knows that the impact will not be so greatly felt should someone let loose Specimen 297, but that's not a good enough rationale to explain the number of contrivances stacked to artificially instill action. These consist of city transport, live ammo snafu and poor math that doesn't bother to factor in the interference of one or two super-heroes, all making their homes in Manhattan.

There's a lot of stupidity at play in the core of the plot, and if this were a real covert operation Contessa Valentina Allegra De Fontaine would be brought up on charges for gross negligence and hopefully canned out of the agency. Seriously. Dumb planning. Dumb execution. Bad idea. Though Specimen 297 isn't a conventional weapon, it still has lethal potential, and civilian casualties are supposed to be avoided. If you had to transport something hazardous through the city, you would logically do it during the wee hours when there are less people around and less traffic. If you planned to steal this substance and you're purportedly the good guys who care what happens to any passerby, then you certainly wouldn't arm your agents with live ammo which might damage the unit in a gunfight. You would arm them with tranquilizer darts and tasers. You also wouldn't hire serious resistance against your agents. You would hire Barney Fife.

Weighing against this inane plot premise, we have the usual energetic artwork by the terrific team of Ron Frenz Sal Buscema and Gotham. DeFalco and Frenz cut back and forth from the idiotic spy games to May's personal life. In this issue, largely due to the presence of stupid spy craft, May's personal life is far more interesting as are the lives of the supporting cast.

The characters comprising "the Suicide Squad," which except for Kaine haven't to my knowledge been seen in the Marvel Universe proper or the MC2 universe actually seem to possess more than two dimensions, thanks to some lively dialogue. This snappy dialogue isn't just isolated to the villains; DeFalco and Frenz spread the wordplay to all the characters, including the ever-optimistic Amazing Spider-Girl. The dialogue helps define the characters. Courtney for instance has a big decision to make, and three different girls with singular attitudes offer her diverse advice. There's no homogeny among the characters, and this generates friction as well as plausibility.

Normally, such a story with such a half-assed premise would earn my deepest disregard. However, Amazing Spider-Girl's strengths save the book from being a complete loss.

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