“Sometimes I just sit and wonder what it would be like to be her–the other Gwen. What it would be like to have a normal life.”
Spider-Woman (Earth 65) seeks advice from Spider-Woman (Earth 616) as various forces emerge against George Stacy. Harry Osborn returns, but is it as friend or foe?
WRITER & VARIANT COVER ARTIST: Jason Latour
ARTIST: Robbi Rodriguez
COLOR ARTIST: Rico Renzi
LETTERER: VC’S Travis Lanham
COVER ARTIST: Robbi Rodriguez
HANDBOOK ENTRY PRODUCTION: Joe Frontirre
ASSISTANT EDITOR: Devin Lewis
EDITOR: Nick Lowe
STORY: As the Mary Janes pack up to head to Aunt Anna’s lake house, Gwen leaves their world to get help from the Earth 616 Spider-Woman with the handcuffs she’s been trapped in since last issue. While she’s there, she seeks out some advice from the pregnant hero, too. Meanwhile, Frank Castle’s task force seems to be closing in on George Stacy’s connection to Spider-Gwen as Matt Murdock goes to George directly to make his threats. Gwen finally joins her friends at the lake only to find a surprise guest-Harry Osborn.
THOUGHTS: Rodriguez kicks this issue off with a striking cover, eschewing the lighter palate we’ve seen by going with a deep black background. This causes an unmasked Gwen to really pop out front and center. Overall, the art has an old 70’s or 80’s album cover feel to me.
I was amused with the issue’s opening featuring the gang loading up for a trip to the name dropped Aunt Anna’s lake house, mainly to see that Betty is packing everything, including the sink. She’s actually loading not only her ever faithful cat, but goldfish as well. Also, what’re the Mary Janes going to be doing with a tuba?!?!
After the first page, the scene shifted to Gwen and the 616 Spider-Woman. Unlike the rest of the issue, where the transitions between Earths are clearly labeled, this one wasn’t at all, causing me to wonder at first what was going on, especially as I don’t read Web Warriors or Spider-Verse. With a little patience, I quickly figured it out as the story unfolded. Spider-Woman Jessica Drew has a bit of fun at Gwen’s expense between eating butter packets (?) and we get a quick Jane Foster Thor cameo. I always appreciated those quick one panel cameos in the original Amazing Spider-Man issues, and it’s nice to see the tradition continue into the modern Marvel Age.
I was happy to see Ben Grimm make his triumphant return, even if he is slightly worse for wear. Castle is still single minded when it comes to his Spider-Gwen obsession, not even listening to the rationalizations DeWolff is trying to make. It’s a dangerous train of thought that continues to build in the later scene with Murdock.
There’s quite a few introspective moments this issue, but they don’t slow down the pace and are touching to boot. It would’ve been nice to have an editor’s note about what issue Gwen found out about her 616 counterpart, but I’m glad Latour is taking the time to address the subject. I tend to think of the 616 characters as the “real” characters, but in the mind of everyone else, they would think of themselves as the “main” version. Gwen underlines how difficult it would be for her to broach the topic with 616 Peter and while it wouldn’t be easy for him, I think it would be more manageable from his perspective. After all, how many times has he already had to deal with Gwen’s specter, be it clones, relatives, or someone else? Her Peter’s death is still so obviously fresh in her mind and she doesn’t have the life experience of the 616 Parker. It also doesn’t help to be hanging out where the alternate version of yourself died.
The awkwardness of dealing with an alternate Peter aside, Gwen is still searching for herself. She’s had a few pep talks and moments of self assuredness, but like all of us, is still figuring stuff out and growing. I like how Latour is continuing to build her character. Stan Lee’s Peter dealt with this all the time, though he seemed to deal with it all by himself. Gwen has several people she can turn to from all walks of life and as a result is far less alone than she even realizes. Jessica’s comment about there being no such thing as a normal life is a nice echo to a line of dialogue between Doc Holiday and Wyatt Earp in George P. Cosmatos’ film Tombstone, “There’s no normal life, Wyatt, it’s just life. Get on with it.” The scene carries a particular weight with me as both I and several of my family are either in public safety or the military, where the whole 9 to 5, Monday thru Friday thing just doesn’t exist.
Being behind on the times, I recently finished watching season 1 of the new Daredevil show, featuring a Matt Murdock in stark contrast with the Earth 65 version. This Matt definitely is proving to live up the the devil part of his name, right down to some of the digits in his phone number!
Harry’s return seems to be a welcome reunion, until the typical Spider-Doubt sets in. Gwen, like 616 Peter, is having a hard time staying happy, waiting for the other shoe to drop. It winds up being for a good reason, too. With this world’s Peter Parker dead, the Parker Guilt has been passed on to Harry. Harry’s going through his own version of great power/great responsibility. Having the power of knowledge, he stood by and did nothing. Just like 616 Peter going from wrestler to crime fighter, Harry has been on a two year quest to forge himself into someone capable of defeating Spider-Gwen. It’s an interesting remix of the dynamic that Latour is spinning here. Instead of Peter not wanting to fight Norman as he’s Harry’s dad and not in his right mind thanks to the Goblin formula, we have Gwen not wanting to battle Harry over a different point of view. I’m hoping that we do get to see Harry and Gwen reveal their identities to each other next time out. It would heighten the tension between the two as they deal with their guilt and may help them come to terms.
Rodriguez continues to shine this issue. There really isn’t room for any kinetic action scenes this time out, but he brings his game when it comes to putting everyone’s emotions on the page. Also, I really found his panel where Harry summons his glider to be ominous. It’s probably just me, but as I saw the glider rise up behind him, I couldn’t help but recall Amazing Spider-Man 122 when Norman tried to impale Peter. For the moment, Harry hasn’t revealed a costume choice, but I’m eagerly looking forward to what Rodriguez cooks up as long as it’s not a generic S.H.I.E.L.D. costume or something akin to Spider-Man 3!
Renzi is also firing on all cylinders, in particular the color and shading when Gwen visits Jessica on 616. I love how he makes the bridge pop in the background and the storm effects as they slowly diminished during Thor’s brief fight in the skies. The campfire scene at the lake house has a nice glow to it as well.
This title continues to work for me on all levels, even with us revisiting the night of Peter’s death again. The team continues to move their subplots along and give each issue an identity. The world building is strong and the consistent art has given this book a solid, unique voice. It’s going to be interesting to see how our first future fill-in artist meshes with this style.
MY GRADE: A
JAVI’S HUH?: Latour stepped up and did the variant cover this month. It’s a funny image, but Spider-Ham is depicted with a corn dog, which seems a little like cannibalism. Can anyone give me some insight to the constant corn dog references? Thanks!