The Webcomic Overlook #122: Spinnerette
There’s something you should know about what webcomics I select to be reviewed on this blog. Sometimes, I’m hopelessly attracted to the online equivalent of “bright, shiny objects.” That is to say, I’m easily distracted by some of the stupidest things. It does me absolutely no good to draft up a schedule, since I’d be champing at the bit to review something I’d only encountered at a passing glance. Two months ago, I drafted an ambitious plan to check out a list of review candidates. All of them were potential gems for review fodder. And I’d been doing well following it … until now.
It’s not that I’ve abandoned that list. The one or two of you looking forward to my take on Wasted Talent will be happy to know that I’ve already written a barely legible preliminary draft that I hope to have up cleaned up and ready by next week. However, as I finished penning my Marilith review, I ran smack dab into one such bright, shiny object.
Wondering what “Krazy Krow”* had been up to since he wrapped up his magnum opus, I clicked on Spinnerette, which he developed with artist Walter Gustavo Gomez. It answers the age-old question: “What if Spider-Man was a girl?”
Never mind that Marvel Comics themselves has asked and answered and beaten that question to death several times … what with various Spider-Women, a Spider-Girl (who’s the daughter of Peter and Mary Jane in an alternate future), and the little loved Araña, which Marvel touted as their “first Hispanic superhero” (she’s not). Do any of them have six arms? Check out Spinnerette… she’s swinging six arms like a mofo. That, my friends, is one of the main attributes that sets Spinnerette apart from Marvel’s crowded roster of spider-themed superheroines. Suck it, you two-armed pretenders!
I already gave Krazy Krow a pretty hard time with my scathing one-star review of Marilith, and I hadn’t planned on touching Spinnerette so soon. But the minute I laid eyes on a single panel of the comic, it haunted my dreams. “Santooooo,” she crooned, appearing on that boundary between the waking and dreaming worlds while drawing me closer with her six outstretched arms, “we could have so much fun. Choose me, the cute, bookish and shy girl with a secretly stacked bod that all the male readers have always fantasized meeting and/or fantasized themselves as being! Choose me, my love!”
And I’m all like, “Euuughhhh! Arms!” I know there’s some guys who fantasize about Marvel’s Spiral, but the whole extra-arms thing has been a serious turn-off for me.
That hallucination had a point, though. How can I refuse a comic that lets me plumb my semi-encyclopedic knowledge of superhero comics? Who can resist yet another comic that shamelessly tries to rope in readers with the promise of T&A? And do I dare pass up the opportunity to quip that Spinnerette is not a fella but a girl DJ?
Our main character is a nerdy girl named Heather Brown. She’s a clumsy grad student at a university in Ohio. We know she’s going to be a spider-woman at some point, so Krazy Krow teases the origin story with a series of fake-outs. It turns out that Heater bypasses the typical spider-bite route in gaining superpowers. Instead, she accidentally activates a laser designed by her superhero-hating professor and follows the origin story of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles by getting zapped in the ooze. The accident genetically transforms Heather, which basically means sprouting enough arms to get her passed off as a Hindu deity.
I know what you’re thinking: four more arms? What sort of superpower is that? Apparently it’s handy in throwing around drunk frat boys, which Heather does after they try to force her to come to a party. (“Not rapists!” these attackers claim, not wanting to be cast as the standard villains in every female superhero origins story.) On the spot, she calls herself Black Widow (a name she can’t keep because it’s copyrighted by a feeble two-armed superhero who doesn’t even dress like a spider).
When Heather’s roommate, Sahira, gets wind of Heather’s extra arms, she’s very adamant that she go see a doctor about it. But Heather’s pretty much living out the dream. She actually loves having the extra arms, and she’s super-stoked about the prospect of being a superhero. After Heather throws a tantrum, Sahira decides to play along. Later, using her mad seamstress skills, Sahira even crafts Heather a secret identity that involves a fat suit.
She also sews Spinnerette’s superhero costume, which is basically the Julia Carpenter Spider-Woman with four more arms. Oh, I know Krazy Krow tried to explain it away by saying it’s really the Venom costume rejiggered. But when did Venom ever wear long white gloves and white thigh-high boots? Don’t be surprised if, some day, Disney/Marvel come down hard with a copyright infringement lawsuit, especially since he mentions Julia Carpenter’s new code name (“Arachne”) earlier in the comic.
I was worried at first that Spinnerette would lean heavily on jokes that were already old two weeks after Stan Lee and Steve Ditko created Spider-Man. Like this old chestnut: “Shouldn’t Spider-Man shoot webbing out of his butt?” Krazy Krow makes this conjecture a reality. Fortunately, it turns out to be less gross than it sounds since Heather shoots webbing for a location that looks like it’s about two or three inches above her butt crack.
Thank God for small miracles, eh?
But that’s really just one part of a series of jokes where Heather picks up several superpowers which may or may not have anything to do with being a spider. Super-healing powers, for example. I’m also guessing that the ooze gave Heather a nice set of abs, something that spiders are well-known for. From time to time, Heather also claims that she has spider sense, a claim that has not, thus far, been validated.
Don’t look for anything deep in Spinnerette. Character motivations change on a whim. Heather goes from stubbornly rebelling against Sahira to going along with her plans because, well, it’s in the plot. In fact, all of the characters are generally one dimensional. Most embarrassing are two of the other superheroes appearing in Spinnerette: Mecha Maid’s entire personality leans on flashing the “V” sign, and Black Tiger turns out to be a borderline offensive stereotype of an “angry Black man.”
Want to know something surprising? I don’t hate Spinnerette. In fact, I kind of like it for the mindless action comic that it is. The characters, while underdeveloped, are still likable. Heather is clueless and stupid, but you root for her anyway just because she’s taken on a ridiculous zest in becoming a superhero. Besides, she’s endearing. You sorta have to like a character who cares more about her superhero handle than her health. Here’s a fairly high compliment: Heather is far easier to like than the third Spider-Woman, Mattie Franklin, who Marvel gave her own book and was subsequently despised by everyone. A webcomic character besting out an official Marvel character in the field of best female Spider-Man? Believe it!
With Spinnerette, though, Krazy Krow seems to have found something he’s good at. The comic gives him multiple opportunities to indulge in goofy asides that, for the first time, don’t seem as forced because it’s set in the anything goes world of superheroes. I compare this comic to J. Scott Campbell’s Danger Girl, a spoof of spy stories infused with so much goofy humor and gleefully shameless T&A that it evolved into something enjoyable. Krazy Krow and Gomez are doing the same thing with Spinnerette: it’s gratuitous and it’s corny… but that’s half the fun.
There’s a moment, for example, when another heroine named Spinnerette shows up who’s basically all T&A. She’s there to dispute Heather’s ownership of the name, by the way. Will Spinnerette next be confronted by an irate alternative rock soloist from Australia? After all, Spinnerette is not a fella but a girl DJ.
Now, I could dredge up the same complaints I made in Marilith and fret about Krazy Krow oversexualizing women yet again. But despite all appearances this site is not necessarily against gratuitous T&A. The character of the “original” Spinnerette comes off as such a naked ploy that I can’t help but give it a pass. It comes off as a parody of similar times dominatrix-themed characters showed up in manga and anime.
Am I still worried that some day Spinnerette will plunge into something so vile and inappropriate that this review will be completely invalidated and I’ll have to eat my words? My experience with Marilith has definitely put me on alert. However, it wouldn’t be the first time a webcomic has proven me wrong in the long run, and it won’t be the last. As it stands, Spinnerette treads on some very familiar grounds when it comes to superhero parody, but overall it is a fun webcomic. That’s a pretty darned good thing to be.
Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)
* – Article edited. Real name has been withheld at the webcomic creator’s request.
Posted on June 2, 2010, in 4 Stars, action webcomic, adventure webcomic, comedy webcomic, fanservice, manga style webcomic, spoof, superheroes, The Webcomic Overlook, WCO Big Review, webcomics and tagged Spinnerette. Bookmark the permalink. 29 Comments.