Spider-Gwen #1 Review (Spoilers): Shaun’s Take


Spider-GwenSpider-Gwen_Vol_1_1The breakout Spider-Family member of 2014 is finally here with her own universe, her own rules, and her own series. So how is Gwen Stacy’s adventures in Marvel 65?

Spider-Gwen #1: Most Wanted Part 1

Writer: Jason Latour

Artist/Cover: Robbi Rodriguez

Colorist: Rico Renzi

Letterer: Clayton Cowles

Design: Idette Winecoor & Jessica Pizzarro

Editor: Nick Lowe & Devin Lewis

Editor-In-Chief: Axel Alonso

 

Previously on Spider-Gwen: Gwen Stacy was bitten by a radioactive spider that gave her amazing spider powers. Peter Parker, in an attempt to be more like her, turns himself into the Lizard. Things goes awry and he dies in Gwen’s arm. Gwen is blamed for his death by the media, but continues to operate as Spider-Woman. Gwen’s father, Captain George Stacy, is charged with bringing in the Spider-Woman but is unable to when he discovers that his daughter is the vigilante. As Gwen struggles with the new developments in her life, she is drawn into a fight alongside the other Spider-Totems across the multiverse. The Spiders prevail against the evil Inheritors, but now Gwen returns home to face the challenge that is her life.

Spider-Gwen action 2Death from A-Butt: The issue opens with Hobbie Brown and The Yancy Street Gang spray painting images of the Spider-Woman across a Daily Bugle billboard. They are confronted by Officer Ben Grimm and the Vulture, the later of whom nearly kills the former.

We pick up with Gwen Stacy, three days after the events of Spider-Verse. She’s avoiding her father, has quit drumming for The Mary Janes, and is struggling to be more successful at her vigilante activities after deciding that Bodega Bandit is too lame a villain to be her nemesis.

Captain George Stacy checks in on the injured Grimm and is informed by Foggy Nelson that he has been replaced as the head of the Special Crimes Task Force after trying to defend Spider-Woman. His replacement, Captain Frank Castle, tortures Aleksei Systevich to discover the Kingpin is organizing events behind the scenes.

Gwen spies on her former band mates and discovers the band is falling to pieces without her, as Robbie Robertson is keen to point out. Mary Jane is against the idea of bringing Gwen back, but Gloria Grant defends her friend and storms out of practice. Her father leaves her a voice message that warns her about The Vulture, so Gwen goes out and sprays paints insulting bird jokes all over the city to draw Vulture out. After a brief fight, Vulture drops her from an incredible height and that’s where the issue ends.

Thoughts: I would like to take a moment and appreciate the fact that there is six Spider titles being published right now and three of them are female led titles (plus we got Miles filling in the minority role.) Equality, hell yeah.

 

Spider-Gwen actionAnd of these six titles, Spider-Gwen is without a doubt the most distinctive. There is no other book Marvel is putting out with Spider-Gwen’s tone. At times, it shamelessly panders to a youthful demographic but there is always this wonderful punk sensibility to it. Not only is our lead a rebellious college student fighting crime, but we see her supporting cast is full of hot headed youths, full of wit and opinions. There are dark moments in this book, but this younger generation doesn’t brood. The adults feel out of place, vestiges of a world that is slowly falling away into this new world of youth and super powers that Gwen is at the fore front of. And it works. I’m interested in this universe as a whole. It seems a lot more like our own than the Marvel 616. Superpowers are just emerging and have yet to change it, the way they have the 616 or even the much younger Ultimate Universe. Not only are we looking at a divide between the young and the old, we’re looking at a divide between a generation that will grow up with superpowers as opposed to one that never dealt with it. That is ripe for storytelling.

Which makes The Vulture the perfect villain for the opening salvo of this universe. In more ways than one, he’s a good foil for Gwen. He’s quick to temper whereas Gwen doesn’t let things get her down. His fight against Gwen works on a technology vs. science level as well, since we see plumes of smoke coming from his back and mechanic claws. I thought Gwen’s solution on calling him out (spray painting the city with insulting jokes) is an excellent example of her being her own hero. I couldn’t imagine Peter doing it for various reasons but Gwen operates without his intellect (as far as we know) or his overactive guilt complex.

I don’t even know where to start praising the art team. That punk sensibility I mentioned earlier is most evident in Robbi Rodriguez’s art. He draws in a exaggerated style that never causes disbelief like Humberto Ramos’ pencils. Colorist Rico Renzi really knocks it out of the park here. Whether it’s smoke, backgrounds, facial hues, Gwen’s costume, or even the reflection of buildings on a window, the colors leap off the page. It’s hard not to stare at the vibrant colors and I’m happy to say there is an abundance of purple and green to be found, classic Spider-Villain colors. I don’t know if it’s letterer Clayton Cowles or Renzi who should be praised for how sound effects leap off the page, but its another highlight. My personal favorite thing in this issue is how they portray movement. Toomes’ plumes of smoke gives a different sense of movement than Gwen’s webbing and you get a real sense of how fast Gwen can move with her spider powers.

Spider-Gwen action 3Turning an eye to Gwen’s supporting cast, there is a lot of fun to be found here. Alternate Mary Janes seem to be pretty horrible people without a Peter to influence them and Em Jay is the worst. She fills a role very similar to Jonah’s in classic Spider-Man literature; Gwen has to work with her to further her musical career but she makes it really difficult. Robbie Robertson pops up to provide our first possible glimpse at a love interest for Gwen and Gloria Grant is pretty damn awesome in the few scenes she’s in; especially during an interview with The Mary Janes. I’m happy George Stacy knows his daughter is Spider-Woman and it’s fun to see our Spider-Hero avoiding the one person who knows the truth, rather than rely on them. Frank Castle makes quite an impression in his first scene. There really isn’t any weak links in the supporting cast (nameless Mary Jane band member aside) and I hope the distinction between these versions and their 616 counterparts only grows in coming issues.

At times, Gwen seems a bit too clever for her own good. There are clever lines all over this issue (my favorite plays on the 60s Spider-Man theme) and most of them work, but not all. Again, it feels like its pandering to a youthful demographic at times and I hope Jason Latour can iron these moments out later on. Still, her voice is a breath of fresh air among the Spider-Crew. I compared Gwen to Miles a lot while reading this issue, but I’m happy to say they operate differently. Although Peter’s death was supposed to be her Great Power moment, it really doesn’t feel like Gwen had that moment yet nor does she need it quite yet. A negative side effect of playing things lightly is the Gwen Stacy drama of the issue doesn’t have the levity it should. She mentions at one point she’s starving, but I missed that the first couple times I read the issue.

Two minor things: Spiders aren’t supposed to have Spider-Sense anymore after the events of Spider-Verse. And the issue’s end is super ineffective as a cliffhanger. Also, how many bloody Spider-Women are there now? Anya, Jess, Gwen, Mayday…

Verdict: This book is something new. It’s still finding its feet, but there’s a strong unity between script and art that makes this book come alive, even during the slow moments. It’s a book that embraces the might of being young and is unapologetic about it. A strong supporting cast and the setting up of several story-lines help carry the issue when not all that much actually happens. Our lead has some growing to do, but she’s something special. Gwen doesn’t have Peter’s guilt complex, Miguel’s seriousness, Jess’ practicality, Cindy’s doubt, or Miles’ responsibility to live up to the Spider-Man name. Instead, she has a headstrong personality and a light heart, which is what makes her worthy of her own Spider-Title.

Spider-Gwen action 4Pros:

  • Intriguing new universe
  • Interesting shift between generations
  • Punk sensibility
  • Dynamic art team
  • Strong supporting cast
  • Unique Spider-Hero

Cons:

  • Panders to youthful demographics at times
  • Doesn’t stand alone
  • Weak Cliffhanger
  • Perhaps too clever at times

B

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(24) Comments

  1. Evan

    @#23 Adam S. - Thank you. That's what I was thinking, too, but hopefully it will be explained in upcoming issues.

  2. Al

    I gotta say that I enjoyed this issue though not as much as EOSV #2. I think it's too early to make a call on the series or the characters. I don't think Gwen is unlikable at all.

  3. Evan

    Since she doesn't have Peter's penchant for science, I wonder how she was able to create her webshooters. Do we learn from the book if that universe's Peter mae them for her? Or did the spider that bit her impart to her the mechanical skill? Did they take the organic approach?

  4. J.A. Morris

    I don't have a problem with this series or the character. But the name "Spider-Gwen" is stupid. I thought "Red She-Hulk" was a dumb name for a character, but Marvel has trumped that one.

  5. Frontier

    Anyone have an idea who that redhead hanging around the cell with Castle while he was interrogating Rhino might be?

  6. C-Spider31

    @16 "Silk #1 did a far better job setting up who is the character, what are her goals, and how her world operates than this book did." That's actually a pretty good point. Silk #1 set up the direction of the book pretty well. I didn't really get a sense of direction from this (though I'm only going off of the review, so take my opinion with a grain of salt).

  7. Chase the Blues Away

    #14: "How come so many people like her?" So only one opinion is allowed? 1) To me, there's a huge difference between a hero trying to save lives and causing collateral damage in the process, and a hero who wants "to eat all the corndogs" and casually initiates costly damage in the hopes of taunting a bad guy to find her. I can't get behind a hero who earnestly thinks massive scale vandalism is kewl and appropriate. Sorry. YMMV, of course. Her dad loves her and is trying to protect her. He's not going to turn her in. He knows she's innocent and she saved his life. Yes, I would go home BECAUSE NO ONE ELSE KNOWS SHE'S SPIDER-WOMAN. To the rest of the world, she's plain Gwen Stacy. Isn't even MORE suspicious for Gwen Stacy, Captain Stacy's daughter, to disappear just as a Spider-Woman who went to the same high school as Gwen and knows the same people as Gwen happens to show up?! And yes, sorry, but spying on people is spying on them and a gross invasion of their privacy. Yet Gwen is fiercely guarding her privacy and secrets and isn't sharing them with her friends. Gwen has her reasons for guarding her secrets, but aren't her bandmates also entitled to their privacy? I'd be furious if I discovered an ex-coworker was spying on me and listening to me talk about them without my knowledge. Your analogy doesn't make sense. I never said Gwen had to be perfect; I said I find her unlikeable and unheroic. Flawed characters can be very likeable and heroic; look at classic Peter Parker. I don't think this Gwen is either. 2) What's weird, and distasteful IMO, is eavesdropping on a band you quit and walked away from. But Gwen could've come down off the wall, put on her street clothes, and walked in as if she just arrived. As for Mean Girls: a perfect bitch isn't flawed, she's perfectly bitchy. A "flawed" character means a character with bad AND good traits; well-rounded, dimensional; human. But the band members are stereotypes: the bitch, the airhead, the sassy one. Stereotypes are not flawed characters by definition. 3) Latour already set up a theme in the existing one and half issues: Gwen is special, but anyone else who who wants to be special is doomed to supervillainy. First Peter, now the Vulture. So if that's not what he wants to say, he might want to think about what he is trying to convey. Just a suggestion. And no, I don't have to give him another issue, just like I don't have to watch a second episode of a TV show or read the second book in a series if I didn't like the first one. A first issue needs to hook the reader and draw them in. I hate to compare this to Silk, because each book should stand on its own merits, but Silk #1 did a far better job setting up who is the character, what are her goals, and how her world operates than this book did. And I thought nothing could redeem Silk the character after seeing her in Amazing Spider-Man. 4) How about by Tom DeFalco and Ron Frenz, which would be the more likely scenario if such a thing were to occur? And c'mon, a steampunk Lady Spider? How cool could that be! I'd love to see PAD write it, after reading her in his Spider-Man 2099 issues. Marvel can do whatever they want, and I can vote with my wallet. That's the deal. But since Marvel has openly stated they're hoping to attract female readers, they might think about providing more likeable, heroic female characters, Or not. *shrug*

  8. tnr105

    I like Latour as a writer. His four issues of Winter Soldier were phenomenal back when Brubaker left the book (and Marvel), but I have little to no interest in Spider-Gwen as a character. It just seems like they're cashing in on the idealization of Gwen which has become even more of a thing since Emma Stone's portrayal.

  9. F

    @10 If Spider-Gwen is Empirically, Objectively "unlikeable" then how come so many people like her? I'm sorry about this but It'll just keep bugging me otherwise. 1) "She vandalizes buildings and city property without a second thought... She’s not heroic." Y'know It's almost like she and every other superhero ever are somehow living outside the law, constantly trespassing on rooftops, causing public disturbances, assaulting people they don't like and enforcing Law without license, I'm sure there's a word for that. In fact because of that Her cop dad is charged with bringing her down, would you go home to that? Saying she "spies on her band as if only she is entitled to privacy." Is like saying 'she punches x villain in the face as if only she is entitled to physical safety' Why do people think that Gwen needs to always be perfect? 2) Don't you think It's a bit weird to suddenly reveal one's eavesdropping in the middle of a conversation? "...instead we get Mean Girls drama." and what's wrong with flawed characters? 3) "Latour needs to figure out what he’s trying to say with this book." It's the first. issue. I'd bet the writer has a plan that cannot be fully divined from just these pages and again, what's wrong with a flawed heroine? 4) Mayday Parker: Spider-Woman, by Dan Slott. enjoy the nightmares. I'm not saying it's all perfect I'm saying that If everyone acted perfectly and had no character flaws there'd be no story. Remember that Marvel is just an entertainment company, I'm not sure what people are expecting or asking for from these new female superheroes but I very much doubt that the company has any intention of providing it. Just be thankful that what we're getting doesn't appear to be completely awful. I'm sure I broke some rules with this post so I'll be going now

  10. F

    This Book and others like it give me hope for comics which I know will be crushed at some point by a sudden cancellation or a new spiderverse type event. @1-7ect This is the problem I've always had with Gwen, Who Is She? No one seems to want to accept the original Lee-Dikto version and thus every time she appears she's totally different. I don't fully understand how she's got so many fans when there's no clear character. At least with J. Jonah Jameson there's only two versions, the classic psychopathic Doctor Robotnik style dictatorial madman (which I guiltily prefer) and the more human man-of-business. But is the modern one out of character, or did the classic one need a modern update? Which Gwen is the real Gwen? I like Ultimate Gwen, a moralistic Hero's girlfriend(?) pulling knives out on bullies is a potentially interesting contrast(in this same vein I wish she'd stayed as Carnage). But I also like Spectacular TAS Gwen who is basically Ultimate MJ (whereas MJ is classic MJ, Whole lot of MJ...SMOK*shot**shot again for doing shot joke*) and they couldn't be more different. Personally, I really like the idea of the mythical Gwen, someone Peter obsesses over but never really, fully knew. So I agree with the ancient text of Madgoblin on the subject of the Osborn/Stacy kids. (speaking of which I can't wait to see Norman in this world, I really hope they don't just brush it off with a joke and instead use it to make the Goblin a terrifying, creepy and personal Villain once again. Anyone played Haunting Grounds/Demento? Gwen could be the greatest Heroine of all time by doing what Fiona couldn't and stand up for herself against the worst of man without the the aid of a Dog.) Every dang time (almost) Gwen shows up people say she's wrong one way or another, but I don't see how the Emma Stone version is more 'Right' than any other. I enjoy seeing Parkers perfect angel show different sides and seeing as she was killed young, she could've grown up to be anything, A bodyguard in the Age of Apocalypse for instance.

  11. WolfCypher

    @ #3 Yeah. I expected "A" and got "B" instead. That itself shouldn't make me dislike this. It disappoints me that it isn't "what I wanted" but I should still give it a chance. Now considering I have given this issue (and her debut Edge of Spiderverse issue) its chance, I still don't like what we got. I think its a hard bias on my end. Because of that, I want to stick around a little longer to see if I can shed this bias and just enjoy what this thing is instead of what I wished it could have been. And in a way, while I admit to Dan (Spider--Dan, hopefully not Dan Slott) that this whole "What If" scenario Universe was never really promised to begin with, this IS still a What If concept...its a Universe where Peter could have gotten bitten by the radioactive spider, and Gwen did instead. And when Marvel teases these issues with covers that show Gwen like this (http://wac.450f.edgecastcdn.net/80450F/comicsalliance.com/files/2015/01/Spider-Gwen_1_Hughes_Variant.jpg), I fall for it. Also, while I did not read every single Spiderverse tie-in, from the Spiderverse issues I did read, Spider-Gwen didn't come off in that "event" the way she is in her own ongoing. I hated Spiderverse, but I liked her over in those tie-ins (her debut Spiderverse issue being the exception). To recap this long ass reply, yes, Dan, I'm agreeing with you. I'll stick around, but if I drop this book, I'll have no reason to push this issue.

  12. Chase the Blues Away

    I thought the negatives far outweighed the positives on this one: 1) Gwen is unlikable. She moans about starving and seems to be living on the streets, but no one knows she is Spider-Woman other than the dad who loves her. So why doesn't she just go home to wherever she was living and live as Gwen Stacy while trying to clear Spider-Woman's name? Her taunts to the Vulture would be rejected by Beavis and Butthead. She vandalizes buildings and city property without a second thought, and spies on her band as if only she is entitled to privacy. She's not heroic. She wants to stop the Vulture so she can "eat all the corndogs," not because he puts people in the hospital. 2) The band members are all one note: the airhead, the bitch, the angry one. Here's a chance for comics to finally show strong female friendships and instead we get Mean Girls drama. Also, Gwen quit the band and walked out on them. MJ is wholly in the right, yet she's the bad person for not wanting to ask Gwen to come back? All the while, Gwen is eavesdropping on the band's problems and thinking "My hero" when Randy tells MJ she needs Gwen, but Gwen doesn't make herself known or tells the band she's sorry for quitting and wants to comes back? This actually makes Gwen look like the impossible diva who must be begged, not MJ. But instead, Gwen says "Glory is always right" when Glory yells at MJ for being an ass. Also, I agree with #8, MJ has been bashed enough. But there's nothing in this or Edge of Spider-Verse to suggest that this MJ has any reason or motivation for being literally the worst other than just more Marvel bashing of the character. 3) Latour needs to figure out what he's trying to say with this book. So far, the message seems to be "Gwen is super duper special but no one else can be." Peter wanting to be special turned him into the Lizard. Gwen deduces that Adrian Toomes is the Vulture because he wants to be special, "see his name in lights." I'm betting MJ is not the Jonah (Jonah is the Jonah, after all, the Mayor who declares Spider-Gwen is a menace); I'm betting MJ becomes the Green Goblin because of all the characters, she's the one who explicitly wants to be special and famous. And also, why waste another opportunity to MJ bash? 4) The art is fun and the punk sensibility is cool. I wholeheartedly agree with that portion of the review. But I'd much rather have a new Mayday ongoing, or Lady Spider steampunk coolness instead.

  13. ryan3178

    Funny many people liked Silk #1 better than Spider-Gwen #1. Of course, expectations for Silk were so low that it was a pleasant surprise. With Gwen expectations were very high, even given Latour, he is known for introducing a great concept and then taking a few issues to really get going. I thought this was a nice debut issue and yes, Spider-Woman Gwen is blamed for the death of Peter in this universe. I mean, it was revealed that the formula that made him the Lizard in Gwen's universe killed him but many believe that Spider-Woman thanks to Jameson outright killed Peter who was a high school student. She operates above the law and now with her father knowing she is Spider-Woman she's in a tough spot. Also, the constant bad portray of MJ in the main Spider-Man title has really soured fans when they see MJ portrayed this shallow. Even though this is a completely different MJ who had a bad home life but intends to make something of her life. Yet, readers see: "Why can't Marvel stop bashing Mary Jane?" Well done review.

  14. parabolee

    Isn't she Gwen in name only though? Other than the blonde hair with head band and people she knows, nothing about her seems like Gwen in any way. Just give me Mayday Parker back, thanks! She's the only alternative universe Spider-person I need. And in many ways I feel her timeline is much truer to the original Spider-Man books than what we currently call the 616 universe.

  15. MyHair

    @Aziz It was mentioned in Amazing Spider-Man #9, when she along with some other spiders went to save Kaine.

  16. Spider--Dan

    @Wolfcypher - You are disappointed because you expected something that was never indicated. This isn't a 'What-If' style scenario. This is a completely different universe. Edge of Spider-Verse #2 already established the Peter/Lizard subversion. This is not the 616 Universe taking a different tangent because Gwen was bitten instead of Peter, this is a completely different world where Gwen was already in a band etc etc.

  17. WolfCypher

    I'm going to be in the absolute minority here, but I'm not quite happy with this take. I thought this universe was supposed to be a What If-esque take on our 616. In other words, I thought this was our window into seeing a world where, what if instead of Peter getting bitten by the spider, it was Gwen instead. That would suggest, while yes, many things would have turned out differently, this world, and its "players" would still be familiar, just in altered situations". It just seems like way too much to believe that had Gwen, not Peter, been bitten by the spider, everything would have ended up as we're reading it. I was pretty much expecting our 616 written characters in this new alternate timeline. Mary Jane would still be Mary Jane, Peter would still be Peter (albeit still introvert and powerless), Flash would still be Flash, and Gwen would (relatively) still be Gwen. I don't know how the spider biting Gwen would cause Peter to become this world's Lizard (seriously, how does Gwen getting spider-powers displace a doctor with one arm, who was probably working on a reptilian-based serum for years to regrow his arm, with Peter taking his place?) Gwen to be a punk rocker, Mary Jane to be the attention-hogging front-man of a band... I was expecting to see, if not 616 Gwen, then AT LEAST an Emma Stone-ish Gwen (since that's how everyone wants to remember her as anyway). This Gwen is more like what if Ultimate Gwen became Spider-(Wo)Man instead. It really bothers me that this universe deviates away so much from the 616 this early into its introduction. Its like if we revisited a universe where Aunt May died by the burglar instead of Uncle Ben, and as a result, Peter becomes a Spider-powered Kraven the Hunter, the Black Cat marries Jameson, and Harry Osborn is a black woman. Like...how does all that come from May dying, Ben living? How did we get all this in Spider-Gwen by just her getting the spider-bite? One simple change can cause some interesting ripple effects, but I'm guessing this Earth-65 was not intended to be "616 with progressive changes caused by one change", but is just a brand new universe based loosely on our 616. This execution...it's not bad. Long pessimistic rant this may have been, I'm not saying this is bad. Its just not what I expected going in, and its a hard adjustment for me since I came in expecting something else. So I'll have to take this all in as believing there is no way this is just a simple extended "What If" scenario, and is just a whole new reality as radically different from its base source as the Ultimate Universe was meant to be.

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