A post from my ancient Marvel blog, part of a sequence running down individual issues that certain fans didn’t like but which I thought were just fine.
Day four of our journey through unloved and unappreciated comics of the past that I still like. Today’s entry is SPIDER-GIRL #51, written by Sean McKeever and illustrated by Casey Jones. It’s the only one of the 100+ issues of SPIDER-GIRL not written by Tom DeFalco, and therein lies the source of the problem that some fans had with it.
At the time this story was produced, Editorial was operating under a mandate: all ongoing titles were to have one or two self-contained inventory jobs prepared and ready, in case the regular creative teams fell behind schedule. Then, some time later, SPIDER-GIRL went through one of its periodic cancellations—issue #50 was to be the last. That decision was eventually reversed, but not before some time had been lost. So I chose to run this job as issue #51, to buy Tom and Pat Olliffe a bit more space as they started up production again. But really, I ran it because I liked it, and wanted to see it printed as much as anything else.
Many of the hardcore SPIDER-GIRL fans—the ones who’d campaigned and worked to pull the book back from the brink of death again—were very upset by this issue. This wasn’t the creative team they’d rallied behind, and so I suspect there was an almost knee-jerk negative reaction to the issue. Which is a shame, because I felt that Sean did an excellent job under some very difficult circumstances, stepping onto a title that had a strong identification with its regular creative team, and not being able to plan too much around where the ongoing characters and storylines might be when this saw print. His tact was to frame the story from the point of view of a new character, a classmate of Mayday Parker’s who admires her from afar. It was very much in keeping with the tone and the style of Sean’s independent series THE WAITING PLACE (and in fact there’s a story point of connection between that book and this issue of SPIDER-GIRL.) And I thought that Casey, buoyed by some excellent coloring from Udon Studios, gave the book a vibrant bounce and an energy, even in the quieter moments.
Now, several years later, the resistance to this story has died down somewhat—it was more-or-less permanently laid to rest when Tom DeFalco brought the villain from this issue back in a subsequent story, indicating that he at least had no problem with the fill-in. And since that time, Tom hasn’t missed another issue of SPIDER-GIRL, so this remains the only Mayday story written by somebody else.