“I made Spider-Woman matter so much because I was terrified it didn’t.”
A powerless Gwen is being hunted by Frank Castle! The Electro of Earth-65 makes his flashy debut!
WRITER: Jason Latour
ARTIST: Robbi Rodriguez
COLOR ARTIST: Rico Renzi
LETTERER: VC’s Clayton Cowles
COVER ARTIST: Robbi Rodriguez
HANDBOOK ENTRY PRODUCTION: Joe Frontirre
ASSOCIATE EDITOR: Devin Lewis
EDITOR: Nick Lowe
SPECIAL THANKS TO: CK Russell
STORY: The district attorney is speaking to Frank Castle on the phone regarding the file with photos that seemingly link Gwen and George Stacy to Spider-Woman. Meanwhile, Gwen is going about her life, only powerless and avoiding her friends. She eventually decides to join the Mary Janes for a night out on the town, coming across a place called Electro Avenue. Whilst stopping off at the revitalized Dollar Dog, a holdup occurs, but is stopped by Castle. Castle then confronts Gwen, throwing her into a table. She uses one of her power ups and throws him through the window before running off into the night.
THOUGHTS: The band is back together, both The Mary Janes AND the creative team! After the past two issues off, Rodriguez makes his triumphant return to these pages since March and it’s another great, dynamic entry! Once again, Rodriguez’s cover has the villainous threat lurking in the background, looming over the unsuspecting Mary Janes. “Weapon of Choice” is already off to a great start!
Starting the tension early, Latour opens the issue on a beleaguered DA who looks suspiciously like Foggy Nelson, although he’s not identified. He’s pouring over a file containing pictures of George, Gwen, and Spider-Woman and chugging Pepto-Bismol like it’s going out of style. After Gwen’s team up with Cap, not to mention the viral George Stacy video where he spills the beans on the NYPD’s investigation, Spider-Woman’s seeing such an uptick in public relations that even JJJ won’t malgin her in print! This just sets Castle off further as he stalks our powerless heroine, unaware once again that she’s being watched, which is starting to become a theme here after the revelations from Spider-Women. Gwen feels very isolated and vulnerable as Castle shadows her.
The loneliness continues as Latour transitions the scene to Gwen, recapping the recent mini-event. Glory is trying to get Gwen to go out with the band via text, prodding and probing as to the truth of her absence. Finally, Gwen writes a book-length missive as to the heart of the matter, confessing she is Spider-Gwen!
It’s in this scene that the entire team once again channels their inner Lee/Ditko/Romita, remixing them for a 21st century audience. Instead of a costumed Peter swinging around and crouching on roof tops, a solitary Gwen is angst ridden in the dark, pouring out her soul in a text she will never send, until she finally decides to rejoin the human race and her friends. The panel of Gwen composing her text is my favorite of the issue, down to the lettering by Cowles. There is so much expressed in that single image and Rodriguez and Renzi collaborate to perfection.
Running a close second to that panel for me is the page where the Mary Janes force Gwen to crowd surf at the concert they are at. Gwen is so frantic and unwilling to let go as she is hoisted up into the crowd until she is physically and literally swept away from her troubles. The perspectives that Rodriguez chooses for each panel provide maximum impact and I really enjoyed the top panel as she is pushed toward the stage. When her ride is finally over, she feels full of life as she collapses onto her friends, asking them to do it again. It’s a great happy moment for her.
Latour makes his usual pointed commentary about society, lampooning tinder, retro video games, and overpriced boutique food. Having the Dollar Dog reopened and charging $10 for corn dogs cracked me up as here in Austin we have a plethora of food trailers with really phenomenal food that charge exorbitant prices. Fortunately, the artisanal pickle water is free on Earth-65.
One thing I wasn’t expecting to see this issue was Max, gatekeeper to the Electro Avenue. He fits perfectly into this world. Whether or not he is a rogue for Spider-Woman remains to be seen, but I enjoyed the design elements that called back to the original look, whilst still updating it for contemporary Earth-65’s New York. Rodriguez and Renzi pull off the horror vibe to great effect as Gwen ponders if she’s always been afraid. Note the beady eyes that glow in the alley as she passes by, the hand grasping out from the dark. The experience rattles Gwen so that she has to bolt out of there to catch up with her friends.
After seeing some of the negative impact Spider-Woman has had, particularly when it comes to the Dollar Dog, Latour gives Gwen a version of “Spider-Man No More” as she considers throwing her power boost down the toilet. He even sneaks in a mention of “Spider-Gwen”. A hold up swings her back to the other side of the pendulum as she feels she has to react. Before she can make up her mind, Castle intervenes.
Castle’s confrontation causes Gwen to make her choice. She may be running away physically, but after acknowledging that the spider’s bite was a gift and a curse, she knows that her fate is finally in her hands. The decision is hers and as she seems to be running away from the shadow of Spider-Gwen on the wall, another nice little callback to the Spidey stories of old, I really feel she is running toward her destiny and her duel with Castle.
One could argue about power sets, but Castle might be her greatest challenge yet. Whilst Harry was seeing red initially during his fight with Spider-Woman, the realization of her secret identity allowed Gwen to break through to him. This won’t be the case for Frank Castle. He knows and that secret seems to enrage him further. What will confronting a former fellow officer who managed to hold on to his daughter do to his already damaged psyche? A colleague seen as an obstructor of justice who raised this vigilante? Now that he’s not getting support from the department, Castle will be more dangerous than before. What side will Jean Dewolff finally take in the battle to come?
This issue’s profile spotlight falls on Cindy 65 (Superior Silk) and is comprised of the usual fun facts, like Cindy’s hero being Winona Ryder from Beetlejuice.
I enjoyed this issue immensely. Latour once again captured Gwen’s inner angst with aplomb, Rodriguez was a most welcome return to art, and Renzi’s colors took on a beautiful, painted look at times. The arc is off to a very strong start and the story picks up perfectly from the Spider-Woman crossover. This book continues to perfectly capture what I used to love about Spider-Man, but in a whole new way!
MY GRADE: A+
JAVI’S HUH?: Was that the Bodega Bandit sitting dejectedly outside the Dollar Dog?