by Matt Puddy
If you’re looking for positive affirmation that the chaps and chapesses at Marvel take notice of their fans then look no further than Spider-Gwen. Born from the love of a character design that became a prominent part of Spider-Verse, this is Gwen Stacey reborn.
As a character, Gwen has had an impressive development and evolution. In her early days it would be fair to say that she fell well into the realms of a generic female character there to support or drive the main male protagonist and that her death was ultimately the equivalent of Kyle Rayner finding his girlfriend dead and stuffed into his fridge, thus providing the impetus to strive to be a better Spider-Man for one Peter Parker. Over the years that has somewhat changed with her taking more of an active role culminating in her position now.
In true Spidey fashion though this isn’t straight forward, and although there are no clones or time travelling involved this Gwen is from another world – Earth 65 to be precise – with the salient difference being that she was the one bitten by the spider in this reality whilst Peter pushed himself and took Dr Connors’ role in becoming the Lizard. Also in the true vein of all things Spidey it was that “death” of Parker that has Spider-Gwen vilified in the eyes of the public by none other than (yup you’ve guessed it) J Jonah Jameson.
As a quick side note other version of notable Marvel characters do make a quick cameo, such as Officer Ben Grimm and Detective Frank Castle, but for the whole most of the normal portrayals are on point aside for a little artistic license.
Jason Latour’s story opens with a bit of a recap and retcon on her backstory, as well as a slight nudge in the right direction for those who didn’t read her main story in Spider-Verse. In a bold move she unmasked herself to her father thus changing the dynamic in a way that “our” Peter never did.
Shifting straight into the story we find that the Vulture is stalking the city and you know that Gwen is going to be dragged into it all at some point. Admittedly there is also some Parker-esque personal troubles too, such as her career with the Mary-Janes, the egotistically-named all-girl band in which Gwen was once their drummer, as well as discovering that someone out there had put a hit on her father.
We all know where this is going; there’s going to be a showdown which is only hastened by the police posting the Vulture's address for all to see. Gwen tries to track him down but instead gets found herself culminating in a fight between the two as another age old question rears its head and turns into a cliffhanger. Can spiders fly?
Robbi Rodriguez is the artist for this new series and it’s fair to say he certainly has his own style. Spider-Gwen herself is very lithe and feminine, much like all the other female characters. The male depictions felt a little overemphasised though. Frank Castle has a strong male frame with wide shoulders and big chest, for example, but also a bit of a small face. It makes for an interesting mix as I found myself loving some of it but not all of it.
Fans will no doubt flock to get this issue, whether they are the newly minted Gwen fans or if they are Spidey fans who have continued on from the Verse. I enjoyed it but wasn’t as wowed as I would have liked to be. Still a great start to a title that is likely to go far.
Matt Puddy is just getting warmed up...