Gwen vs. May Parker in an emotional battle royale! Okay, not really, but they do get to have a nice heart to heart.
Writer: Jason Latour
Artist: Robbi Rodriguez
Color Artist: Rico Renzi
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Cover Artist: Robbi Rodriguez
Variant Cover Artist: Mark Brooks
Design: Idette Winecoor & Jessica Pizarro
Assistant Editor: Devin Lewis
Editor: Nick Lowe
STORY: Gwen confronts Izzy and Hobie of the Yancy Street Gang over their graffiti, but lets them go. Next, she goes over to the Parkers and has a sit down with May before returning to The Mary Janes later that night to play a gig. Finally, a bruised and battered Captain Frank Castle comes back to work after his confrontation with Spider-Woman.
THOUGHTS: Man, what an excellent issue! It read quickly, but I felt there was an emotional punch to it that made it worth my $3.99!
This issue may be “Most Wanted? part 4” but could just as easily have been called “Ramifications” as Gwen’s actions start to catch up with her. The issue starts off once again focusing on YSG members Hobie and Izzy. This time they are tagging a condo with a banner reading “Heaven in Hell’s Kitchen” as the New Yorkers 25 floors below them talk on their phones and text. It’s another contemporary aspect of this series. Gwen winds up startling Hobie and he sprays her in the face, an action that causes Gwen to question the functionality of her Spider-Sense. I’m gonna guess since paint isn’t going to harm her, it didn’t set it off? Regardless, Gwen has to save them from falling and once everyone is safe, Gwen goes all parental on them, even remarking how she sounds like her dad. It’s funny as she’s probably not much older and even better, Hobie throws her prior acts of vandalism in her face. Their talk gives Gwen something to think about. It’s an introspective moment for her and she is fully aware that she is hiding from things.
Gwen’s rooftop rescue ruminations lead her to the front door of the Parker household. However, the girl who has faced the Vulture, Rhino, and (presumably future) Punisher is filled with trepidation as she stands outside the front door. Before she can back out, she becomes trapped by a shadow and Rodriguez makes Gwen appear as if she’s a deer in headlights.
The shadow belongs to burly Ben Parker and he leads her inside the house, past her sleeping father on the couch and into the kitchen, all the while he regales her with his yearning for wheatcakes as he pours her a cup of coffee in her special mug that he saved there for her. We haven’t seen much of this version of Ben, but I like him. If he wound up on Battleworld, I’m sure he could take on alternate, non-powered versions of himself easy. I love the look of wide-eyed terror on Gwen’s face as Ben takes her past her conked out father. I can’t imagine how George is comfortable, but the body language Rodriguez gives everyone in the panel is great.
Before May comes down to greet her visitor, Gwen opens a scrapbook and all the guilt she has been carrying around since her career as Spider-Woman began is unleashed in a chaotic splash page filled with her inner turmoil and anxiety. The creative team brings it on this page, in a perfect combination of art, color, and words. There are two primary thoughts-Peter Parker and Killer.
This May doesn’t seem quite as young as her husband (not to say Ben’s a spring chicken), but she isn’t the frail, worried woman from the Ditko era, swooning at any mention of that masked menace. She comes off as a real character, not a caricature as the 616 May had become. She makes a joke about Ben’s coffee before realizing something is wrong. As Gwen is looking at her scrapbooks, she can tell something is wrong, a pain they most likely are both struggling with.
May gently encourages Gwen to open up as she shares her side of the story, detailing how Jameson took what happened and twisted it for his own purposes of persecution. Rodriguez illustrates May’s pain and regrets she bares her soul. This May is aware of what’s going on around her, not suppressing why she’s afraid of this universe’s Spider-hero as she goes on about how dreadful they are. It makes her more have more in common with Ultimate Aunt May than the classic.
Latour has May touch upon how Peter felt day in and day out being bullied, a topical subject today’s society is made more aware of as cases of bullying get more and more publicity and those that are picked on sometimes resort to violent means. May doesn’t have the answers, she states Peter knows he was loved and Latour doesn’t provide us with any, but discussing the topic grounds the scene in a contemporary way.
Talking with May proves to be cathartic for Gwen as May points out that for their love of Peter to live on, they have to carry on living themselves. This brings Gwen to try and reconcile with The Mary Janes, who hand her back her drumsticks and acknowledge that they both need each other. To contrast the prior one page spread, we see The Mary Janes rocking out in all their glory, happily playing their hearts out as their fans record and take pictures of the performance.
The issue ends ominously as Dewolff confronts one of her coworkers who is regaling everyone on how Castle rushed after Spider-Gwen. As she pins the trash talker against the wall, the patched up Castle returns, menacingly telling everyone to get back to work, including Dewolff.
For me, this was a great issue as we continue to see Gwen wrestle with her self doubt, inner demons, and the consequences of running away from life’s responsibilities. She may come off as brash, but she’s a young woman learning how to cope with all that has happened to her. I can’t wait for the next installment!
MY GRADE: A