Spider-Woman #5 Review (Spoilers)


Isw 5n this true first issue of the series, Jessica Drew struggles to find her purpose in life. Does this series find a purpose outside its connection to Spider-Verse?

Spider-Woman #5: Ordinary

Writer: Dennis Hopeless

Artist: Javier Rodriguez

Inker: Alvaro Lopez

Letterer: Travis Lanham

Editors: Devin Lewis & Charles Beacham & Nick Lowe

Spider_kickStory: In the five weeks since Jessica Drew quit the Avengers, she has made a mess of her solo crime fighting career. She has caused tons of property damage going after things as petty as purse snatchers and she assaults an undercover cop. They put her in jail for the night, until Ben Urich shows up to tell her that they’ve been holding her as nothing more than a cruel joke, posting photos of it online. Urich asks her for help on a case he’s working on. The significant others of supervillains are disappearing and Urich suspects sinister motives. Jess tells Urich that these women are probably hiding from their exs and that he needs to let it go. Urich points out her recent short comings as a solo hero and Jess storms off. She interrupts a bank heist, which just so happens to tie back into Urich’s case, which she decides to take on.

Thoughts: Now, this is what I am looking for. Dennis Hopeless is great at mocking familiar superhero tropes and that is on full display here. Scenes where people berate Jess for her excessive crime fighting techniques are a highlight in this issue; whether it’s the cops, Urich, or even herself. Even better is the scene where Jessica has to legitimately question a supervillain before she leaps into action. Hopeless doesn’t focus on the bleakness of Jess’ situation, focalizing the bad through Jess’ incredibly on point sense of humor. She’s hilarious, a little hot headed, and quite sassy. Hopeless could have a lot of fun with the Jessica/Clint pairing if Hawkeye ever shows up.

The book also has a fun meta moment that acknowledges Milo Manara’s infamous Spider-Butt cover.

It doesn’t all work though. While Jess finally shines in her own book, Urich comes off weird. If it was anyone else, I wouldn’t trust them in the least. He comes off really creepy in the issue; the final panel is even him staring at Jess from afar with a creepy smile.

Also, the plot is incredibly convenient, to the point it stretches believability. This is something Hopeless has been having struggles with in this series. It’s not enough to make the issue a bad read, but it does detract from it. 

The big thing though is that this is another Spider-Female title that is about a character who’s lost and trying to make her way in the world. That’s 3 for 3 now and I feel out of all our leading ladies, Jess should have her head on straightest. Her attempts to live a semblance of a normal life isn’t a strong enough hook for this series to distinguish itself.

Spider_CoffeeThe real stars of this issue is the art team though. We have a second Rodriguez working in the spider corner (Robbi Rodriguez is the artist on Spider-Gwen) and Javier seems to be doing pencils and his own colors. And it’s gorgeous. Rodriguez’s action moves with the eye, creating a cinematic style for the action. There’s a scene in the rain that really sells this, as Jess cuts through the rain with her moves, ending up quite damp because of it. Also, the way she uses her blasts look fantastic under Rodriguez’s pen. The bright green juxtaposes against the muted colors that fill the issue and it works really well. 

His characters are expressive and he takes a note from cartoons and anime, often exaggerating reactions in a stylized way (like the way Jess puffs out steam when she mimics a bull.) The artist behind the onamonapia should also get some credit, the little effects here and there add to the issue, without feeling too invasive, which is the opposite of what is going on in Spider-Gwen. 

I quite enjoy the new costume, especially the gloves. It’s sleek, it looks great in action, and it has so many great little bits (like her glasses or the fold out wings built into the jacket.) Despite all that, my favorite outfit Jess wears in the issue is a simple white shirt. Rodriguez draws it so that it looks like it clings to Jess, especially around the chest and it’s a level of believability I’m not used to. My favorite scene in the book has Jess in this shirt, destroying her old office as the sun is setting through pulled shades, casting a faded purple glow over the office.  It’s breathtaking in its believability. And that coffee pot is amazing.

Verdict: This is another solid Spider-Female book with a few flaws that bring it down. Like Silk and Spider-Gwen, I believe this book is only going to get better as its creative team hit their stride. If you put a gun to my head and asked me to pick my favorite artistic team between the three, I wouldn’t be able to. They all bring something to the table and Javier Rodriguez brings a believable yet cinematic feel to his book. Like the other books, strong Spider_Lawlscharacterization of the titular character pulls this book through its unremarkable plot. I hope Jessica can find her niche in this market, because this book deserves an audience.

Pros:

  • Jess comes alive
  • Believable art
  • Fun deconstruction of superheroics

Cons:

  • Convenient
  • Creepy Ben Urich
  • Shares a similar premise as Silk and Spider-Gwen

B-

(3) Comments

  1. Frontier

    A very nice and well-written review Shaun. Admittedly I wasn't interested in picking up Spider-Woman, though I do like the character, but I gave it a chance with this issue and am definitely going to at least be picking up the next one. I guess when it comes to why the book didn't start out with this direction and art, when it seems to have greatly improved the series as a whole, was either because Marvel believed it starting as a tie-in to Spider-Verse would draw in more readers or because of the whole Milo Manara controversy (which is probably why Greg Land is gone). Or maybe a bit of both, you never know with Marvel. Still, this was a very enjoyable and fun issue, so all-in-all things seemed to have worked out. As far as Jess' new costume is concerned, as an outfit, I think it looks pretty great and fashionable, but as a Superhero costume I think it's a little "eh." Personally I actually liked Jessica's classic Spider-Woman costume, prone to being drawn as skintight as possible as it was, so I didn't feel the need for a new practical/functional costume for her to sport in her new ongoing. And going off on that practical/functional aspect, one of my problems with it is that it's just...too simple. LIke, all she really has to do is clip on a jacket and voila, instant costume. Just feels way too easy, and I'm not fond of the idea of a Superhero outfit that's basically just clothes that she can wear during the day and while crimefighting. I mean, I get that it might fit a more street-level hero which is what Jess is trying to be now, but all the same it just isn't something I'm big on personally. Y'know reading Jess' dialogue in this issue makes me wonder if writers still writer her with the understanding that she's supposed to have a British accent? Hopeless' dialogue for her is funny, sassy, and spunky all the same, just sometimes I wonder what accent I should read them in. So now Spider-Woman can join the the list of Marvel heroes who've wound up behind bars, even if it was an honest mistake (though one that wouldn't have happened if she stayed on top of things) and she wasn't actually arrested. I wonder if the NYPD arresting Sue Storm for indecent exposure in that flashback in Torch Song was another instance of the police messing with heroes because they don't like them? And now after reading Jess' playing charades with her cellmates, I suddenly want to see what Sue's night in the slammer was like and if it was just as hilarious. Though since Ben brought it up, I wonder what the holding cells for super-powered criminals are like compared to the normal ones? It is nice to see Ben in a Spider-book again, and hopefully consistently. Looks like he's back at the Bugle full-time, which is good. Shame that Norah's just vanished in comparison. Though yeah, I agree that his smile at the end was a little weird, even if this is Ben Urich we're talking about. I am a little bit surprised that Spider-Woman is so bad at dealing with street-level stuff considering that's how she started out her career. Maybe if this was coming straight after Secret Invasion, but she's been practically a seasoned hero and Avenger for a while now. Maybe battling universe and dimension threatening baddies all the time has dulled her edge on the streets, or something? Javier Rodriguez's art is definitely awesome, and I really hope to see more from him at Marvel in the future and that he stays on the book. It's always nice to see D-list villains getting the spotlight.

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