Review: Spider-Gwen #1

71jucEJVLCLWriter: Jason Latour
Artist: Robbi Rodriguez
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Release Date: February 11, 2015
Price: $3.99

Spider-Gwen first appeared in Edge of Spider-Verse #2 where, on Earth-65 (in an alternate dimension), Gwen Stacy is bitten by a radioactively mutated spider instead of Peter Parker, giving her all of the well-known Spider-Man powers. She also plays drums in a band called The Mary Janes, fronted by (who else) Mary Jane Watson. So as to not give away any spoilers, I’ll leave the backstory at that. Just know that things happen and J. Jonah Jameson uses his media reach to slander Spider-Woman (as Spider-Gwen is referred to in the story) into becoming a vigilante fugitive.

The story and concept of a super-powered Gwen Stacy became so popular that fans demanded more. She was woven into other Spider-Verse arcs and now has been given her own book. Edge of Spider-Verse #2 is about to get its 5th printing, and there’s no sign of slowing down for the newest young web-slinger on the block. I suspect the buzz largely pertains to Spider-Gwen’s cool, sleek costume design and color palette. Comic book readers are demanding more female heroines with substance to their character and modesty to their wardrobe. While less sexualization of female comic characters may come as a breath of fresh air to Christian comic book fans, does Spider-Gwen have both style and substance?

Content Guide

Language: The dialog in the book is fairly clean overall with only two instances of a d***.

Violence: There are fighting scenes that include punches and kicks, as well as one small splatter of blood as a result from a punch.

Additional Information: Marvel Comics gave this book a rating of T+, so make sure that readers of this title are age-appropriate.

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Story and Writing

The story drops the reader right in, only giving one page of panels highlighting important events from the origin story found in Edge of Spider-Verse #2. I found this to be a little frustrating because I wanted to go back and read the story in its entirety, as I felt a bit out-of-the-loop. All is not lost, however, because EOSV #2 is receiving its 5th printing at the end of March 2015, as well as a trade paperback that includes all five issues of Edge of Spider-Verse coming in May 2015. It’s a little disappointing that some of the backstory is truncated, but getting thrown right into the action does add a lot of pace–something that most #1 issues seem to miss. That being said, the flashback page only works because the story is written in such a way that you feel you’re reading about a hero you’ve known for years.

Spider-Gwen-001-015Jason Latour did a great job giving new life to the character of Gwen Stacy (not sure if that pun’s intended). She is smart, witty, and strong in this book, which is a stark contrast to the classic “needs to be saved” or “totally dead” Gwen. The story is just fresh enough that, even though Gwen is struggling with a lot of the same things Peter Parker did as a young Spidey in his books, it still feels new and interesting. Gwen has this cool, hip, rough edge characterized by her talent as a drummer in a rock band (although she quits, causing Mary Jane’s ego to explode), which, again, is a great contrast to the classic, preppy, studious Gwen of days past.

Spider-Gwen #1 wastes no time introducing a minor, petty villain and a major threatening villain, putting our new Spider-Woman to the test. Also, some familiar faces from the Marvel universe are dotted throughout this Earth-65 incarnation, which make for a few fun nods to those who recognize them. Latour’s script really punctuates our hero’s youthful snark and wit, showing that the writer understands how a fresh young hero in 2015 should act and sound.

Also worked into the story is a common thread throughout Gwen’s personal and hero life: ego. Gwen silently witnesses Mary Jane have a complete ego meltdown as the band searches for a replacement drummer. The Mary Janes are right on the verge of stardom, and Mary Jane’s drama ends up tearing it apart. Then, Gwen’s main nemesis, the Vulture, is drawn out by his desire to be infamous, attacking Spider-Woman after she insults him via graffiti. By the cliffhanger ending, you can tell that Gwen is learning to know her limits and not let “being special” become larger than what she can do for others. She’s learning and growing and being given depth as a character, which is what the public has been longing for is a young, non-objectified female hero.

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Art

The first thing you notice about Spider-Gwen is the hero herself. Her costume is not like anything before seen in a Spidey. Traditionally, a Spider will have a palette of blacks, blues, reds, or a combination thereof. Gwen’s Spider-Woman is given a white-and-black hooded bodysuit that is set off with accents and lining of red with a web design, and the almost electro-luminescent blue colored shoes make the whole design so simple, yet modern. The look is so striking that it immediately sets her apart in the Spidey universe, but still ties into the familiar web accents and eye design that fans have come to expect.

The overall art design is very stylistic. Robbi Rodriguez provides characters that have a modern look without being too serious or too cartoony. They’re unique and striking. The use of color is pretty brilliant throughout. A wide palette splashes pinks and blues to punch contrast behind already stylish characters. A normally dark and gritty setting in New York City is given life, vibrancy, and a clean simplicity through pastels and the fresh use of tones and hues. The color palette gives Spider-Gwen a personality and style that you don’t see too often in a market full of overly-serious, dark, and brooding comics.

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Final Word

Spider-Gwen #1 is a great introduction to a fresh new character that you feel like you’ve known your whole life. Gwen is just such a likable character with such a cool design that it’s hard not to root for her. Jason Latour wrote a great character, and even though this issue throws the reader in head-first, I’m hooked, so I have no problem going back to find the origin story. Robbi Rodriguez knocked it out of the park with the character design and art style. All I want from this series is more. Hopefully issue #2 will keep up the pace and action delivered in issue #1. If you’re looking for a fresh new comicbook with a cool new hero and a twist on an old story, give Spider-Gwen a read.

Positives

+ Simple, fresh character design + Clean art style & color palette + Familiar, yet new story

Negatives

- Book seemingly drops you in the middle of the story

The Bottom Line

Spider-Gwen is a fresh take on a new twist, applying great design to a simple "What If..." scenario. The writing is quick and witty; it will reel you in and make you clamor for the next issue. The pacing seems a bit weird for an issue #1 as it just throws you into the story, but that in itself is fresh. Robbi Rodriguez's art style and character designs are sleek, fresh, and pop with great use of contrasting color.

 

Story/Plot 8

Writing 8.5

Art 8.5

8.3

Jon Hill

I'm a 28 year old husband, father of 3, Christian DJ, PlayStation fanboy, and retro video game collector from Chesapeake, VA.

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