Paul Tobin is one of the hardest working writers at Marvel Comics, regularly turning in superb work on two monthly all-ages books (Marvel Adventures Spider-Man, and Marvel Adventures Super-Heroes). But his first real stab at mainstream Marvel Continuity is with the latest iteration of Spider-Girl. The hero formerly known as Arana has taken on the guise of Spider-Girl, lost her powers, and in the first issue of the book, lost her Father after a deadly Red Hulk attack.

The rest of the book so far has dealt intelligently and emotionally with the loss and change that comes with the death of a parent – but that doesn’t mean there isn’t big superhero action on the horizon; or that there isn’t time for frequent Tweeter Spider-Girl to stay connected with her favorite social network. To find out more, we chatted with Tobin about his take on superhero deaths, what Anya might Tweet at other teen heroes, and whether ANOTHER Spider-Girl might show up in the book:

MTV Geek: This title – and by the way, I mean this in a nice way, because I really love the book – is definitely not going in the direction I think anyone expected. Can you talk about your initial approach to the book? What was the pitch line, so to speak?

Paul Tobin: Marvel has always been a place where creators have an opportunity to do something really unique, to let the voice not only of the creator come through, but also the character. In Spider-Girl, then-editor Nate Cosby and I wanted to explore what it was like to be without superpowers in a super powered world, somewhat similar to Kurt Busiek's exploration of the theme in Marvels. Except, in our case, we wanted to take that a step forward and say... what would it be like to be a person without super-powers in the Marvel Universe... but STILL be a superhero, still putting your life on the line day in and day out. What's the personal cost of that? That was my jumping off point.

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Mention alternate universes to a comic book fan, and you’ll either get an excited look of elation, as they reminisce about their favorite changed timeline – or an instant geek headache, as they try to reconcile the events of different continuities against each other. We’re of the former mind – as long as you don’t stress it too much, What-If scenarios can give fascinating and fun looks at what could have been.

With the recent release of Age of X: Alpha, we've added yet another alternate timeline to Marvel – one that shows what happens when the X-Men and other mutants are nearly hunted to extinction. So we thought that would be a great opportunity to tromp back through Marvel history, and take a look at the (previous) ten best alternate universes:

1. Squadron Supreme (Earth-712)

There have been two Squadron Supreme universes – basically the Marvel equivalent of DC’s JLA. The first was created by Roy Thomas and John Buscema, though most famously written by Mark Gruenwald. In a seminal miniseries released in 1985-1986, the team decided that the best way of saving the world was to rule it. Complex, dark, and ahead of its time, the miniseries is a classic, and the Universe one worth revisiting. The second was a MAX labeled reboot of the team, headed by J. Michael Straczynski. His take was a slow introduction of the team that would eventually lead to their takeover of the world. But, like a lot of JMS’ projects, he never quite finished it.

2. House of M (Earth-58163)

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By Alex Zalben

It’s Red Hulk week at Marvel – clearly – as three separate issues featuring the non-mustachioed anti-hero hit the shelves at the same time. Before you check out our reviews, be sure to read our Five Minute Recap to get up to speed on the character. Still there? Okay, now read the reviews.

The Avengers #8

There’s a lot of ground to be covered in this issue: writer Brian Michael Bendis needs to explain who the Illuminati are, what the Infinity Gems are, who the Red Hulk is, and all this while continuing an ongoing story. All you need to know? A bunch of heroes hid the most powerful weapon in the universe, in secret, and a bad guy is putting that weapon back together. Also? The other heroes aren’t going to be happy when they find out what was going on behind the scenes.

Bendis explains it a little more fluidly and deftly than I did right there, and does a good job of using Medusa, the widow of one of the former members of the Illuminati, as a window into their world. However, Bendis’ detractors are going to have a field day here, as not only do we get yet another issue of Avengers where, for the most part, they all stand around talking. But we also get some of his favorite creations, including The Illuminati and villain The Hood all in one issue. Read More...

I’m often asked by parents what are good titles to buy their daughters in order to start them off with a lifelong love of comic books. One really important thing to remember before you buy comics for young females is that: there are no “one size fits all” comic books just for girls! There is really no such thing as “comics for girls” -- perhaps something with pink covers and glitter, for instance. It all depends on what the personal tastes and preferences are of the girl in question.

An easy way to determine what type of comics a girl (for the purposes of this article, “girl” refers to any female from 7 to 17 years of age) would enjoy is to observe what they are into in other media like books or TV. For instance, she is a big fan of Harry Potter, you might want to try titles like Scholastic’s Amulet series, or Oni’s Spell Checkers. A fan of fantasy books like Lord of the Rings? Try Mouse Guard from Archaia Studio Press or the Bone series from GRAPHIX.

Sometimes there is a direct comic book adaptation of a girl’s favorite book, TV show, or movie that might be a good gateway to eventually try other types of comics. Is she mad about Twilight? Start her with the Twilight Graphic Novel from Yen Press. A Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan? Start with Dark Horse’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8 series of collected editions. Check out Dark Horse too if she's a Star Wars fan! The Artemis Fowl and Percy Jackson book series have graphic novel adaptations out now, as well. Read More...

Welcome to Crossovers We Want to See, a fairly self-explanatory recurring feature in which we pitch the meeting of a pair of characters or teams from different comic companies. Playing editor, we'll dream up writer and artist combinations and basic story points.

Supergirl & Spider-Girl: Girl Power

Written by Gail Simone
Drawn by Amanda Conner Read More...

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