Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. Every week he is going to attempt a mini review of one of them, with potential minor spoilers.
This week I grabbed the first issue of the new Spider-Gwen series from Marvel Comics, written by Jason Latour and with art by Robbi Rodriguez, colours by Rico Renzi and letters from Clayson Cowles. Full disclosure – I didn’t read any of the Spider-Verse event from Marvel, featuring a team up of a multitude of parallel universe Spider-People that introduced this new character, but as it was the start of a new series that exists purely because of the hugely positive fan response to her introduction and design, I thought it was worth checking out.
Spider-Gwen takes place on Earth-65 (for those who don’t know, the Earth in the “main” Marvel Universe is referred to as Earth-616). In this alternate universe, Gwen Stacy was bitten by the radioactive spider rather than Peter Parker, bestowing upon her all the abilities we recognise and leading her to take on the mantle of Spider-Woman (I don’t know why this title isn’t called Gwen Stacy: Spider-Woman rather than the cutesy sounding Spider-Gwen). As usual with Marvel comics, the sort-of back story is summarised on the first page along with a brief recap. In this universe it seems Peter, striving to be special like Gwen, became the Earth-65 version of The Lizard, and died in the ensuing fight. Gwen was forced to reveal her identity to her dad, Captain Stacy, who allowed her to escape. Got it? Good.
Having returned to her universe after Spider-Verse, Gwen finds the Spider-Woman is public enemy number one, and she sets to recovering her reputation by tangling with some villains, even if they turn out to be a bit rubbish. She also avoids calls from her dad and stalks her old band, The Mary Janes, who have become instantly famous after Spider-Woman turned up at one of their shows. She then tangles with The Vulture, coating the city in childish graffiti in order to draw him out so she can turn him in to the police, but while heavily taunting him it looks like she may have underestimated him.
I may have missed the inception of this character and a little bit of the back story, but Latour writes tightly and skilfully enough for that not to really be a problem. I really liked Gwen’s character, and some of the slight differences between this universe and the normal Marvel U (I keep wanting to say “our” universe), in particular Captain Frank Castle taking over the Special Crimes Task Force. The story does feel like a bit of a continuation rather than the start of a new story, but most people would presumably be coming on following Spider-Verse. Rodriguez draws a dynamic world, with quick action and nice bold line work. Renzi makes this alternate New York really pop, with an almost dayglow colour pallet that contrasts well with Spider-Woman’s largely black and white suit. The art really helps to make this book ooze with attitude, with an almost punk-rock feel that lines up with the band story line and Gwen’s behaviour in general.
I didn’t really know what to expect going into this series, but what I got was a really nice surprise. Spider-Gwen, while I’m not dying about the name, is a fun and vibrant book that is well worth picking up. Even not having read the series that spawned it, I didn’t feel too lost as I have a basic working knowledge of Spider-Man lore. If you fancy a slightly different take on web-slinging, check this interesting new female-led book out at your LCS or digitally.
Score: 8 of the Worst Arch-Nemeses out of 10