“Yeesh. Cindy Moon, Earth-65’s own Bond villain.”
As Jessica goes to check on her baby, Gwen and Cindy head to the Fact Channel offices to get a lead on Cindy-65 , unaware that they are being lead directly into a trap that will shake Gwen down to her core when it is finally sprung! Will she be Spider-Gwen no more?
WRITER: Jason Latour
COLOR ARTIST: Rico Renzi
LETTERERS: VC’s Clayton Cowles and Travis Lanham
RECAP PAGE DESIGN: Idette Winecoor
COVER ARTIST: Yasmine Putri
VARIANT COVER ARTISTS: Robbi Rodriguez and John Tyler Christopher
ASSISTANT EDITOR: Kathleen Wisneski
ASSOCIATE EDITOR: Devin Lewis
EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Nick Lowe
STORY: On EARTH-616, Gwen and Cindy head to the Daily Bugle, er, Fact News Channel to use their computers to access the stolen zip drive, only to find a message from Cindy-65, who wants them to meet her at the Baxter Building, now headquarters to Parker Industries. After dealing with the robotic, tentacled security, Gwen and Cindy are stopped by Cindy-65 who monologues, explains the secrets behind her and Gwen’s origins, takes away Gwen’s powers, and frames Silk as Mockingbird and her team arrive.
THOUGHTS: Here we are at the halfway point of Spider-Women and we only have a trio of covers this time out. Putri, handling the regular cover yet again, does an homage to John Romita, Sr.’s “Spider-Man No More” page, even throwing in the words “no more” on the billboard overhead! No matter how may times an artist has paid tribute to it over the years, it’s still a striking image. I really like the coloring on it, too. Rodriguez once again is relegated to the variant and speaking of variants, Christopher is back with another action figure cover, this time featuring a Samurai Spider-Gwen with “super sword swinging chop”! I find these a lot of fun and would actually consider buying a figure if they ever turned these into reality!
Continuing the “controversy”, the opening panel of this issue identifies the world as “Earth-616”, not “Prime Earth”. Three editors on this book and no one seems to keep up the consistency that Breevort wants with nomenclature. At this point, they should just leave it as Earth-616, especially as “Prime Earth” sounds too DC anyways.
As Gwen and Cindy go through the Fact News offices at the story’s open, Gwen gives insight into modern society, ruminating on how we view someone’s life based on things we see in a photo. It feels like Latour is making commentary on social media and how we often put the happy face out there, but underneath deeper, possibly darker, feelings are lurking. It’s a perfect metaphor for the Spider-Man dual identity, the brave, quippy face presented to the public (and villains) at large, with all the doubts, sorrows, and worries of Peter Parker, or in this case, Gwen Stacy, underneath. Next time you scroll through Facebook or Twitter, give it some consideration.
Sharing a parallel of persecution with her Jonah, Gwen takes an instant dislike to the 616 version. However, instead of being the standard blustery caricature, 616 Jonah is in a quiet moment of disillusionment that boarders on heartbreaking as he sees someone in a Silk suit on a crime spree. Having only read one issue of Silk prior to this, I’m not up on all his feelings for the character, but clearly she means something to him, as seen by Bengal’s pencils. The pain is written all over his face. This is Bengal’s second at bat for this title, and despite some beautiful moments like this, I wish I could see some more of Joelle Jones’ work from Spider-Woman #6’s chapter. Jones doesn’t have the quirky flavor that Rodriguez does, but I’d love to see her get an issue of this book.
It’s an interesting idea that Peter’s guilt translates into no human guards at night for Parker Industries, preventing innocents from getting injured, but that also leaves room for mechanical error and takeover, not to mention not having the capacity for judgement and reason, like a human being. Using Doc Ock’s arms for extra measure seems like a lapse in judgement, too. Is this his subconscious influencing Peter, or the machinations of the Living Brain? Maybe a bit of foreshadowing for Ock-65’s return?
One thing I have been vocal about in my reviews for Spider-Women is the antagonism Gwen has toward the Cindy of Earth-616. As I’ve stated elsewhere, I didn’t read most of the main event, sticking primarily to the satellite titles, so I’m not sure how well-founded her feelings are. However, with this issue I now feel that it has all been building to this. Gwen starts to see Cindy’s side of things and starts feeling more empathy for her, especially as she begins to see Cindy as a mirror for herself and how much Cindy has lost in comparison. This causes Gwen to doubt why anyone would want this life.
A few stories now have focused on Gwen’s struggle with her responsibilities, guilt, and balancing her dual life. In fact, it felt like she reached a catharsis with Harry, but continuing to have these insecurities about wearing the webs is a Spider hallmark. How many times has Peter himself said he was walking away? So, I didn’t mind Gwen having to deal with these issues again as they popped up from a new angle. While loss may be a part of life, a webbed wonder seems to have an affinity for it and I appreciated that Gwen realized how much she had compared to others like Cindy, who lost her family for over ten years and is still trying to piece that old life back together. I really hope that they come out of this story as stronger friends, with the occasional bout of getting on each others’ nerves.
I had the same reaction as Gwen did to Cindy calling her Spidey-Sense a “Silk-Sense”. I’m sure if they weren’t dodging Ock’s arms, Gwen would’ve pulled a facepalm. Somebody please tell me in the comments below if Cindy actually calls it that in her book! Cindy’s defensiveness to Gwen’s disgust was pitch perfect.
Latour layers in some pop culture references to The Little Mermaid and James Bond, with Cindy seemingly being a big fan of the former. I’m curious to know if this, too, is something carrying over from the characterization in her own title or an invention of Latour. Either way, I continue to enjoy the little flourishes and mentions. It reminds me of the Marvel Tales issues I grew up with, where the editor posited if they should update the references Stan made to something more current, or let them stand for posterity.
Gwen’s analogy of Cindy-65 being a Bond villain earlier in the issue isn’t far off as the Cindys of two worlds finally meet in the second half of the story. Cindy-65 certainly steps into her role of Bond villain archetype with gusto, monoluging about all her nefarious plans before delivering the coup de grace-SHE was behind Gwen getting her powers!
The whole team really came together to tell the tale of the secret origin of Cindy-65, echoing back to the reveal of Le Chat Noir’s backstory in the first series. The two page spread made it stand out, and I loved how Renzi made the shade of blue he used really stand out as its use culminated in being the bottom of Spider-Gwen’s shoes. Strong work, everyone! Latour once again provides us a reflection of what we are already familiar with, but with an Earth-65 twist. Trapped in the cell of mundanity, Cindy herself created a way to grant powers through her spider research, serving as a mentor to her world’s Agent Drew. I don’t think I’ve fully processed what this revelation means to Gwen and how it will impact whatever future she has, but it certainly gives light to why her Spider-Sense may not have been working right when Agents of S.I.L.K. have been spying on her!
The revelation adds a further spin to the Gwen/Cindy dynamic that was already going through development. It was already contentious, but now this Cindy-65 has the potential to be Gwen’s Norman Osborn which would have to color how Gwen interacts with Cindy-616. Would Gwen look at Cindy-616 and only see the villain that changed her life? One could simply dismiss this as a retcon, but it adds a lot of story potential down the road and I’m really curious how Gwen is going to handle this.
Cindy-65 pretty much owns Gwen in this scene and Gwen is painfully aware of how much trouble her and Silk are in. Cindy-65 further deconstructs Gwen by pointing out what a terrible detective she is, especially given her pedigree. To add injury to insult, she then has micro spider-robots inject something into Gwen, taking away her powers. I’d like to personally thank whomever writes the solicits for Marvel for ruining this moment in revealing the plots for the next two issues. What could’ve been a fairly dramatic moment instead became something I saw coming and therefore lacked suspense.
Jessica Drew didn’t make an appearance this chapter, allowing Latour to give more focus to Gwen’s inner turmoil whilst still moving the story along in a big way. As Gwen posits why anyone would want this life, she’s now had it seemingly yanked away from her. Will she get her powers back before the big Venom story, or will this all play into how she and the symbiote presumably bond? I enjoyed how Latour gave a new spin to Gwen’s origin. Bengal’s art still isn’t knocking me over personally, but there is talent there and Renzi’s colors still make this book a standout.
MY GRADE: B+
JAVI’S HUH?: The profile page has Jameson listed as “Jay” instead of “J.” Is this a revelation that happened post OMD after his father became a recurring character?
Would it kill people to have the characters’ looks stay consistent between issues? Or did both Cindy and Gwen change outfits once they reached Earth-616?