As Gwen deals with the aftermath of her first confrontation with the Vulture, her private and super hero lives continue to get more complicated! Will she ask anyone for help, or has she already invented them?
Writer: Jason Latour
Artist: Robbi Rodriguez
Color Artist: Rico Renzi
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Cover Artist: Robbi Rodriguez
Variant Cover Artist: Sara Pichelli
Design: Idette Winecoor & Jessica Pizarro
Assistant Editor: Devin Lewis
Editor: Nick Lowe
Story: Gwen survives her fall from the Vulture, but at a cost-a head injury that causes her to see The Sporkacular Spider-Ham as a spirit guide! She winds up encountering her band mates as Detectives DeWolff and Castle try to get some traction on the Spider-Woman case and tie it to the Kingpin somehow. The Vulture gets captured and interrogated by the Kingpin’s lawyer without fear, Matt Murdock, and Gwen finally decides to go to her dad for help!
Thoughts: Latour starts us off with his second reference in this series to the classic 60’s Spider-Man theme song, but this time with a twist as it’s sung by none other than Spider-Ham, himself a fan favorite from Spider-Verse. Of course, this isn’t the real Ham, but one brought on by Gwen surviving her fall dealt to her by the Vulture in last issues’s climax. He stays by Gwendy’s side througout the issue, recalling to mind Bernie the Beaver from DC’s recent Harley Quinn series, giving Gwen a handful of new nick names as he acts as her self professed Jiminy Cricket. It’s fun to see him around, but I wouldn’t want him to be a permanent fixture as her imaginary friend.
Spider-Ham regales Gwen with how she survived. She shows her ingenuity by coming up with a solution through her panic. Her salvation? She spins some webwings under her armpits, allowing her to soar like a paragliding wing suit. It’s a stroke of creative genius, one I don’t think we’ve seen the regular Spidey do when Ditko used to adorn him with the same motif. However, it does become difficult for the novice to control and Ham points out that a web chute would have been just as effective. It’s a great way to show her inventiveness, whilst still showing that she’s a neophyte at all this. In the recap, we get speedlines galore, heightening the urgency of her plummet, and when we get back to the present, she is endowed with a green fog highlighting her concussive injury. Colorists don’t get praised enough, but Renzi is a vital part of this team and the book wouldn’t be the same without him.
Gwen panics when she loses her phone, a commentary on the times when she states “My whole life is in that phone!” Looking at how Rodriguez renders her expressions, you would think the Vulture kidnapped her father and was dangling him from either the George Washington or Brooklyn Bridge! Ham mocks her for her reaction, but Gwen points out every secret she’s got is on that phone. It can often feel that way. I’m in my late 30s and I would probably act the same. It’s become my lifeline to so many things.
Fortunately, Captain Stacy recovers it at the crime scene and the lingering question from last issue gets answered-Castle’s partner is, in fact, this world’s Jean De Wolff. Through a little Basil Exposition, we find out that Captain Stacy is the one who brought down the Kingpin and he gets recruited to sit in on his interrogation. Nice to see that Stacy actually got to put him away in this reality. I guess someone would have to fill the void of arch-nemesis since Murdock is under Fisk’s employ.
Gwen wakes up, still addled, surrounded by Em Jay and Glory. In case you haven’t heard, artist Rodriguez is friends with the band Married With Sea Monsters. They’ve even recorded a track for “Face It, Tiger” (now available on iTunes, natch) and you can see the artwork adorning the wall. It’s a cool bit of synergy and if you haven’t heard it yet, I recommend you do so. Before the album cover featured was used, the YouTube artwork showed former Spider-actresses, even from the 70’s show!
The present band members start to have a “Come to Jesus” meeting, as they say at my job, with Gwen, who was apparently found at a bar by Randy, who brought her to them. Glory comes off as a true friend to Gwen, whilst Em Jay is still in full diva jealousy mode, though she does come to admit that Gwen is vital to the group. The more we see of Em Jay, the harder it is to like this version. As Glory points out, she even has the hipster audacity to buy Taylor Swift on vinyl! Gwen shares her conflicted feelings with Ham, revealing her internal conflict brought on by the curse of being a Spider. Gwen is just lost at this point, and probably has been since Peter’s death, and has been unable to deal with it with the interruption caused by the Spider-Verse crossover. Ham fills her in on the painful lesson that a hero isn’t just fun and games, there is real life that needs to be dealt with and it doesn’t go away with the donning of a mask. It’s a great moment considering Gwen pretty much avoided her loved ones all last issue.
Latour demonstrates Murdock’s effectiveness as he shuts down Castle’s interrogation of the Kingpin over the phone whilst in the middle of a rooftop inquisition of his own with the Vulture. I hope we get more backstory on my favorite lawyer from Hell’s Kitchen, especially as he seems to have the same billy cane and radar sense, rendered in black and white “shadow world” form in one panel. Gwen was right, Toomes just wanted to be special, but instead he is broken by the Kingpin’s men, losing any menace he had in the prior issue. With Rhino and Vulture now under the Kingpin’s thumb, how long till Gwen faces her own Sinister Six, now that she has snubbed the Kingpin’s hand?
The green fog has stopped swirling around Gwen’s head, but Ham is still present. He >ahem< HAMmers home that her present actions won’t change the past. Latour hasn’t used the specific tried and true catchphrase yet, but Gwen is definitely feeling the weight of power and responsibility, happily with no graffiti this issue.
This heavy burden leads her back to her father, but not before another musical easter egg in the background. As George walks away from a futile bar conversation with Castle, we see the alleyway littered with posters for a band called Felicia Hardy +The Black Cats. I CAN’T WAIT to see them go head to head with The Mary Janes in a battle of the bands situation! It’s gotta happen! The Mary Janes even have one of their posters covering hers! I just hope Earth 65 Felicia fares far better than her current 616 counterpart. Some great stuff could be done with Spider-Gwen facing Black Cat on the streets AND on the stage! I’d like to see them as partners at some point, but she could serve a great foil for Gwen, too!
I felt this was a solid follow up issue. I can’t find any fault in the art, coloring, and lettering. It’s pitch perfect to me. Latour went some interesting places, especially as I wasn’t expecting a Spider-team up this issue. I just hope Gwen isn’t crazy and continues to see Ham. It feels like Latour is addressing some complaints I’ve seen on line. Thing is, this isn’t 616 Gwen. This isn’t even a “What if?” type Gwen as so much of Earth 65 isn’t at the same starting point as the original Marvel U. I can see the censored swearing being off putting to some, but I think it’s a valid character choice for modern language of today’s youth. Gwen is dealing with some stuff, but that doesn’t mean the issue is without humor, especially as we get an editorial dig at The Smiths. I was surprised this issue came out so soon after the first and it looks like we won’t have to wait too long for the next installment. If they can keep this quality up, I’m looking forward to it!
My Grade: A