Gwen confronts her father, the Vulture, …and The Punisher!!!
Writer: Jason Latour
Artist: Robbi Rodriguez
Color Artist: Rico Renzi
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Cover Artist: Robbi Rodriguez
Variant Cover Artist: Mike Mayhew
Design: Idette Winecoor & Jessica Pizarro
Assistant Editor: Devin Lewis
Editor: Nick Lowe
Story: Gwen and her father start to have a long overdue conversation about her alter ego, when the Vulture interrupts to interrogate Captain Stacy. Gwen suits up and takes the battle outside where she confronts Captain Castle, wearing a vest adorned with a skull. Gwen defeats them both and webs the Vulture up for the police, whilst neighbor Ben Parker helps a wounded Captain Stacy into his home so his wife can asses his injuries.
Thoughts: It seemed like this issue went by in a flash, but that is not to say it was without substance. Gwen and her dad finally reach home to have a conversation and the fun, flip Spider-Woman persona is gone, leaving a very fragile, heavy hearted teen-ager. Both parties are worried, but for different reasons. George, of course, is very parental in trying to protect his daughter. I wondered what kind of childhood Gwen must have had when she mentioned her dad teaching her to spot a tail when she was 8 years old. Was this done in fun? Was he overprotective and paranoid and was she fearful? What did her mom think? Was she around, or was her absence part of the reason why he taught her? I can’t think of much background on 616 Gwen’s mom and I know the Ultimate version abandoned her. So far, everything about the Spider-Gwen world and its differences continue to intrigue me.
The mantle of responsibility and consequences is continuing to weigh heavily on Gwen, making this feel like a Spider-Man story. George tells Gwen she can’t be Spider-Woman anymore and Gwen asks how can she live with herself if someone else gets hurt. She flashes back to Peter dying in her arms and confesses to her dad that she would give anything to stop lying and hiding behind the mask. She is full on feeling the brunt of the new lifestyle thrust upon her, with the man who raised her into this, now afraid for his child’s safety and telling her to let the weight go. He tries to tell her about forgiveness and as a reader, you know it’s a lesson she won’t learn anytime soon, if ever. Combined with Rodriguez’ art, it’s a moving scene where he keeps the speed lines to a minimum and lets the drama play.
Once the Vulture arrives, Rodriguez kicks his art into its usual dynamic mode. I realize this is still VERY early into Gwen’s career, but probably not a good idea to switch into costume when you’re being assaulted in your own home. At the very least, sneak out the back and then arrive thru the entrance the Vulture made! Gwen switches back into snappy banter mode and I wondered what a 616 Peter book would be like under this team.
Vultchy rants and raves about an Osborn, further salivating the notion that we’re gonna get to see a Norman/Gwen face off at some point in the series. The Vulture’s monologue is interrupted by Captain Stacy’s bullets and he turns tail and runs. Again, he seems to be able to dish it out, but not take it when his prey fights back. He’s far more creepy than the 616 version to me, but cowers when the going starts to get tough. His bully dichotomy adds dimension to him.
Gwen’s feeling of responsibility drives her to give chase, meanwhile, someone else who’s been known to know a thing or two about the subject, rushes to George’s aid. I’m looking forward to hopefully seeing Ben and May Parker in the next issue. Ben not only seems younger than his 616 counterpart, but brawnier, too, probably because he’s attired similarly to the Brawny Paper Towel Guy.
As Gwen feels the effects of the gas, from nausea to seeing triplicate, Captain Frank Castle makes a very intimidating appearance in a version of his Punisher garb! The gas mask adds an inhumanity to his towering, bulky visage. If he wasn’t bobby trapped, Gwen would’ve made quick work of him, even hindered from the gas, but instead she winds up unmasked. Castle condescends to her, surprised that she is “just a girl”, but this “girl” solidly knocks him out and has to make a decision.
It’s her third issue and Gwen has some serious problems. If the Vulture is as smart as he brags, it shouldn’t take him long to piece together that she’s Spider-Woman. Add to that, Captain Castle may have gotten a look at her face and it probably won’t take long for him to realize it’s his co-worker’s daughter. It could be that he only saw the top of her blonde head, but is a Spider ever that lucky? I think my favorite part of the issue is Gwen piecing together what could happen if the Vulture outs her to the police and before she can even finish her thought, she stops herself and affirms that Spider-Woman is NOT a criminal. She webs him up for the police, and whilst I wish she would’ve left a “From, your friendly neighborhood Spider-Woman” note, it wouldn’t have been appropriate in this scene. Gwen closes out the issue by sitting in Peter’s dark empty room and reflects, ending it in true, classic 60’s Spidey style.
I wish the issue could’ve been longer, but it was still a great read. It may only be three issues in, but I feel that the team really gets the themes of Spider-Man and is applying them well to Spider-Gwen. The art is superb in my opinion and I’m enjoying the voices Latour is giving the characters.
My Grade: A