Spider-Woman #8: Survivors
Writer: Dennis Hopeless
Artist/Cover: Javier Rodriguez
Inker: Alvero Lopez
Colorist: Muntsa Vincente
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Editor: Devin Lewis & Nick Lowe
Editor-In-Chief: Axel Alonso
Seems I’m Pretty Fast: The issue opens with Cat’s origin, as we learn she struggled to keep her abusive partner, Earthmover, happy as he continues to torment and take his anger out on her. The flashback ends with her entering theEarthmover suit.
In present day, Jess takes one helluva beating as the town of Moon Hollow watches, conflicted between helping their savior or Jess. Porcupine’s wife sets out to free Ben and Porcupine to help, but its the women of Moon Hollow who save Jess when Cat is about to kill her. Cat turns on her town, but they buy Jess enough time to destroy her suit and win the fight.
Cat breaks down, apologizing to Jess and the town in a hysterical fit, saying she never wanted any of this. Jess doesn’t see a villain when she looks at Cat, just a survivor going too far to protect a sanctuary for people like herself. Jess refuses to be the one to bring this town down, so she gives a speech about taking back your life, while warning them to stop blackmailing their villainous exs for money or she’ll be back.
We see Porcupine reunite with his child and vow to change his ways so he can be a part of his child’s life. Jess realizes Ben is missing and theorizes he’s left to publish a story about Moon Hollow.
Still bloodied and bruised, she speeds out of Moon Hollow to stop Ben but arrives several hours too late. Ben explains that this story could keep his floundering newspaper alive a bit longer, and also keep him relevant just a bit longer. But he decided not to publish the Moon Hollow story because of Jessica’s actions. The issue ends with Ben closing down his paper and saying all he ever wanted to do was help people… and he has several more unsolved case files if Jess wants to do the same.
When I’m not being beaten down: Every now and then you read a comic that reminds you why heroes are such a wonderful thing, and for me this is that comic. It’s not a comic about superheroes saving the world from some grand threat or even a comic with a clear cut good guy and bad guy. It’s a comic about survivors, of all sorts, coming together to do something extraordinary; the heroic thing. Our heroes, Ben and Jess, sacrifice a lot in this issue to give our villain a happy ending; not her own, but the one she bleed for, the one she created for others. It’s not an easy call for anyone involved and we see them struggle with their choices. Cat loses herself in trying to save the town and that’s what makes her ‘the villain’ of this story. But Jess is able to see past that and see just another survivor of a bad situation, even after Cat damn near kills her. Jess makes the tough choice of leaving Moon Hollow a secret to the world at large, on the belief that this community, one that blackmails people but also fought to save her, can turn a new leaf and be the sanctuary Cat believed it could be. Her speech is pretty damn great too.
And boy, was I ready for Ben to be the big bad of the arc. The creative team had left little seeds here and there that made Ben come off far more creepy than I felt he should have been, but now we see Ben was in this for selfish wants; saving his paper and bringing himself one last shot of glory. Ben, more than anyone else perhaps, sacrifices in this issue by giving up the story and his paper. Hopeless shows an excellent understanding of the core of Ben Urich; he’s just a survivor of a by gone age who wants to use the truth to help people. And sometimes, the truth will do more harm than good, something Jessica shows him.
Hell, even Porcupine and his family get a few great moments here. His bewilderment at what he did to belong along the ranks of abusive men is totally believable and so is his wife’s stance that a father running away to join up with supervillains is just as abusive to a child as physical harm. But if you don’t believe he’s ready to turn a new leaf after being reunited with his daughter by issue’s end, then you’re as clueless as Porcupine is. He’s poised to be the breakout character of this series depending on how the creative team play their cards.
And once again, praise be upon the art team of Javier Rodriguez, Alvero Lopez, and Munsta Vincente (those dudes’ names are awesome.) Although most of my praise this issue is for the way Jess wrapped up this conflict with compassion, the art team draws a gorgeous fight in the twilight hours of the day. They really sell Jess getting her ass kicked without making her a bloody mess or destroying all her clothing like Greg Land did in the first arc. And the slow shift into night really helps to sell the last misdirection of this arc, Ben being the big bad. And we get Jess do some Spidey poses throughout the issue, which is always fun.
By Anthropomorphizied Construction Equipment: I don’t think this is a perfect comic, but I’m having trouble coming up with any cons. This was not how I expected this arc to go down and I’m truly impressed on the insight Jess/Hopeless put into this. From a tragic backstory on the first page to the promises of future adventure on the last, the creative team deliver some really good emotional stuff on several fronts and remind us why superheroes are the best. My hat is off to you, gentlemen.
- Every Member of Team Spider-Woman gets a big moment
- Art team kills it
- No clear cut good/bad guys
- One last misdirection
- Empowering Emotional Stuff
Man, hard to believe this story is just four issues long. There’s a lot stuffed into these pages and I enjoyed being taken along for the ride, with its twists and turns. There was a bit of a bumpy start, as I found Jess’ identity crisis made her seem far too inexperienced at being a superhero, but even during the weakest parts, I laughed a lot. Hopeless writes a slightly cynical Jessica Drew, one who has been at this superheroing thing for a long time and is looking for something refreshing. He shows her a little dusty at the solo act, but Jess emerges a stronger hero by the end of this and this also leads to one of Marvel’s most uncanny teams yet; Spider-Woman, Porcupine, and Ben Urich. All three will be carrying into the next volume of this series and I’m quite happy about that. So will her creative team, which makes me even happier. But first, Secret Wars and the end of everything. How will Jess be going into the end? Well, by taking a roadtrip.