“Harry Osborn is back. And he’s out for my blood.”
Spider-Gwen faces down the Green Goblin and his Goblin army. As these friends fight, will history repeat itself?
WRITER: Jason Latour
ARTIST: Robbi Rodriguez
COLOR ARTIST: Rico Renzi
LETTERER: VC’s Clayton Cowles
COVER ARTIST: Robbi Rodriguez
DEADPOOL VARIANT ARTISTS: Todd Nauck & Rachelle Rosenberg
HANDBOOK ENTRY PRODUCTION: Joe Frontirre
ASSISTANT EDITOR: Devin Lewis
EDITOR: Nick Lowe
STORY: Harry as the Goblin chases Spider-Woman across New York. After a brief flashback to their friendship, the confrontation leads Harry to make a fateful choice.
THOUGHTS: What a great issue! After a shipping delay of the regular cover issues, my LCS got their copies of the latest Spider-Gwen this week. The story kicks off in medias res with Spider-Gwen being hunted down by an orange clad Goblin. The color scheme led to some confusion as orange is more Hob than Green, and the cover clearly states Gwen is up against the Green Goblin. It gets quickly revealed that it’s one of several robotic henchmen, and Harry is indeed decked out in the usual Ditko-esque villainous hues.
The first thing I noticed as I began was how much I love Renzi’s colors on this book. Even when the scenery is dark, the colors vividly pop to life in neon explosions of green, orange, and purple. There’s even the subtlety of the Goblin’s armor, where you can see a tech pattern overlaying the green on certain parts. Other panels show the hateful glow from the Goblin’s lenses as a strobe effect and it is masterfully done.
Latour’s characterization of Gwen is in top form this issue. He strikes the perfect balance between the doubt of Gwen’s inner monologue and the flip bravado of Spider-Woman, going so far as having her sing old tv theme songs! The tiny voice in her head is almost screaming for her to tell Harry the truth of her identity, but it gets lost in the roar and chaos of battle.
Rodriguez is as dynamic as one would expect. I love the reality he infuses into Spider-Gwen’s hoodie. Often in live action, we never see the protagonist lose their hat (or hoodie, I’m looking at you, Arrow) unless it serves a story purpose. Here, facing no constraints, Rodriguez breathes life into the garment as it flaps and flutters during Gwen’s aerial acrobatics, at times not even covering her head. It adds a liveliness to the the action and provides an extra layer of motion to the art. Rodriguez also peppers in a few P.O.V. panels as well, just to mix things up, placing the reader in the action to great effect.
As the conflict continues, the action takes a pause for an insightful flashback. I’m glad we get to see more of Gwen, Peter, and Harry’s relationship, instead of being told about it via dialogue or one of the handbook entries.
I know practically nothing about role playing games, but I thought it was a nice touch that Peter had included in the Green Goblin’s attributes that he was aligned with “lawful evil”, is a hobgoblin, and has chain mail and pumpkin bombs. Well done to whomever came up with those! Speaking of little details, there is an old Street Fighter II arcade game in the room behind the trio!
These two pages of flashback speak volumes. We see Peter’s creativeness, Gwen’s protectiveness, and Harry’s unapologetic sense of self. Even depicting three kids playing a game, Rodriguez makes the scene look very cinematic. I love the three panels that depict Harry flicking the head off the Goblin toy, the same broken head reflected in Peter’s glasses, and Peter sullenly retreating from the table in silhouette. Gwen’s outrage at Harry’s behavior gets matched by his refusal to be as miserable as Peter. You have to admire that Harry won’t let anyone put him down for who he is and what he likes, but at the same time, it’s also what puts a wedge between him and Peter. Instead of attacking his friend in emotional self defense, I wish Harry could’ve found a way to enlighten Peter, not alienate him, but where would our story be then?
As the action moves back to the present, a lot of realization strikes Gwen as the fight drags on. Gwen sees history repeating, but has no idea how far it will go by issue’s end. As she continues to weigh her deep thoughts, the jokes and insults increase to cover her fears, just as they did against Peter when he was the Lizard. She makes it personal when she refers to the robots as “this hoverboarding Middle Earth Power Ranger thing of yours”. I can’t help but wonder if this is a dig at Willem Dafoe’s suit from the first Spidey movie!
Latour really hammers home the themes of power and responsibility here. Every issue, the curtain pulls back a little further on Gwen. This may be her greatest moment of self actualization yet as she comes to realize she is doing to Harry what she did to Peter and why that is. She states, “This is about power. It’s about how powerless I feel.” Pretty deep thoughts for someone who just made a “Stop. Hammer time.” joke. She is getting to a place of acceptance with what Peter did, but not in time to help Harry get there, too.
During a pause in the action, Harry makes a potentially fatal mistake as he downs some lizard mutagen. He starts his evil-doer monologuing, tracing a line from Oscorp, to Connors, to Peter, to S.H.I.E.L.D.,…to S.I.L.K.??? Renzi subtly layers in shades of green to the bags under Harry’s eyes. We’re starting to see the web that Latour is weaving come together and it’s exciting!
The last page was pure comic book bliss as Harry unmasks Gwen. From the shock in his eyes, to the role playing dice rolling from a defeated Gwen’s hand, it’s so well done! I was so in the moment, I’ll even give them a pass for Harry’s “Darth Vader Noooooooooo!” impression in the last panel.
As has become the standard, the issue concludes with a handbook entry and next issue’s cover, both of which spotlight Captain George Stacy. It’s an amusing read, with most of the whimsy focused on his powers (“Dad Strength”), skills, equipment (standard ’70’s movie-style police revolver, mustache), and fun facts (owns every Cap comic). It provides some backstory on Gwen’s mom, the late Helen Carmichael-Stacy, but leaves the details of her “untimely death” vague for the creative team to embellish later. Since Captain Stacy doesn’t appear in this issue, I’m assuming this bio is provided to give the next installment some backstory. I would’ve thought Harry would’ve seemed the more logical choice.
Even though the issue comprised of one scene with a flashback thrown in the middle, I felt this was the best issue of “Radioactive Spider-Gwen” to date! It was a modern spin on the classic Spidey/Goblin battle, with dramatic reveals, fresh costume design, requisite angst, character insight, energetic art, vibrant colors, and fun dialogue. I enjoyed the issue from top to bottom!
MY GRADE: A+
JAVI’S HUH?: Another corn dog reference in the background! Please fill me in down below in the comments as to why they are so funny!