“He’s done it before. He’ll do it again and again. Someone has to hold him accountable.”
Gwen continues to wrestle with what to do as Castle draws closer to a final confrontation! Has being Spider-Woman been worth it?
WRITER: Jason Latour
ARTIST: Robbi Rodriguez
COLOR ARTIST: Lauren Affe
LETTERER: VC’s Clayton Cowles
COVER ARTIST: Robbi Rodriguez
HANDBOOK ENTRY PRODUCTION: Joe Frontirre
ASSOCIATE EDITOR: Devin Lewis
EDITOR: Nick Lowe
STORY: Gwen broods atop a sign whilst the Bodega Bandit burgles below. She goes to Reed Richards for help fixing her power up device. Castle meanwhile tries to recruit Norman Osborn to his cause. DeWolff is now partnered with Grimm, but still tries to talk to Castle to straighten things out. Gwen calls Jesse Drew for advice and then later winds up actually conversing with the Bodega Bandit in her civilian identity! With her power up device now repaired, she decides to take the fight to Castle to stop him once and for all!
THOUGHTS: Guess what? Another cover by Rodriguez and another review with me telling you how awesome I think it is. Rodriguez captures Gwen perfectly in her dichotomy-she is surrounded by people and yet totally isolated. Her loneliness leaps off the cover, in no small part thanks to the eye-catching coloring. You can feel the burden of her costume and how heavy the lightweight material is resting on her soul.
The issue opens with Gwen, not in costume, brooding atop a vandalized sign across from the Bucky Barns, a burger joint seemingly in homage to James Barnes. The Bodega Bandit, doing his best Hamburglar impression, is running off with a handful of stolen food. Perhaps he should change his name to the Bucky Barns Bandit? Either way, Gwen is feeling ridiculous and that she has wasted time, a fact not helped by the Bandit’s repeat offenses. Having an employee tackle him, taking down both the Bandit and his faithful critter, just makes Gwen’s time in costume seem all the more pointless.
Gwen goes back to check on her father and Reed’s progress with repairing her power up device. I love how “self” aware Reed is regarding all the other versions of him throughout the Marvel multiverse and of course, who wouldn’t enjoy the name “Kirby Krackler” as a component of Gwen’s device?
We finally get to see Norman Osborn after being introduced to his son, Harry, earlier in this volume. He seems to be disappointed in his offspring, much like other versions of the character. Lauren Affe, filling in for regular colorist Renzi, provides a subtle reminder of Osborn’s 616 heritage by shading his chair purple. Whilst disassociating his company from his son’s actions, Castle does seem to think Osborn cares for Harry, promising that if he helps him out with his crusade against Gwen, he will help clear the younger Osborn’s name. Given the 616 history between Norman and Gwen (no, Sins Past never existed), I’m very curious if Latour is going to have them become embroiled in conflict.
We quickly pop in with DeWolff and her new partner, Ben Grimm, making his welcome return to the series. Hopefully, he’ll be much better than Castle or 616 Stan Carter! I don’t think it’s coincidence that he wants to order a Meat Storm “sammich”. With two members of the Fantastic Four this issue, can the Storm siblings be far behind, even if they don’t unite as a team someday? DeWolff tries to get inside Castle’s head as he exits Oscorp. He’s seemed far more rabid in his determination before, but even toned down, he’s still 100% committed to his obsession and Jean’s attempts to sway him from his course fall upon deaf ears.
Gwen turns to Jesse Drew for help. Like Reed earlier this issue, Jesse made his debut during the Spider-Women crossover and along with the Earth-65 Cindy mention in the Osborn scene, it’s nice to see those other callbacks to that story, on top of the obvious fact that Gwen lost her powers during it. For something that didn’t seem all that important to me at the time, it really has had a lasting effect on this book. Jesse is sporting what looks to be a “I survived Murder World” shirt, with what looks like the X-Men villain Arcade on the front.
Jesse’s only advice is for Gwen to just run, something she herself has been pondering. Sitting on a park bench she begins to imagine what that life would be like. Her daydream sees her and her father heading to Earth-616 for sanctuary, but soon realizing she can’t burden anyone by asking for help. Her imagination takes her back to her world, knowing the police won’t be able to help and she’s afraid to go to Captain America and disappoint her. Her thoughts next turn to the devil himself, Matt Murdock, but before she can ponder that temptation, she gets snapped back to reality by the most unlikely of sources.
I think I was as stunned as Gwen to find Bodega Bandit of all people demanding something of her. After numerous quick appearances of this colored-like-a-60’s-Ditko-villain Hamburglar, Latour brings us some insight into his character, and by doing so, gives Gwen some motivation as well. It echoes Amazing Fantasy #15 in a way as Bodega Bandit, not knowing he’s talking to Spider-Woman in her civilian identity, tells Gwen it’s not her job to stop him. As every Spidey fan knows, Peter felt it wasn’t his job to stop an escaping crook and Ben Parker paid the price for that belief. The Bandit elaborates that no one cares or acts like what he does is wrong. No one except Spider-Woman, but his dad just calls the jail to let him go anyways and they do. You would think seeing the futility of her repeated actions would possibly spur Gwen into giving up for good, but it has the opposite effect and she races back to Reed.
Once there, Reed has the repairs completed, throwing in a He-Man and the Masters of the Universe quote to boot! I had speculated that with Gwen’s power-ups diminishing that maybe the upcoming Gwenom story would lead to her getting them back through the symbiote. Reed however offers up another possibility, stating that he has tons of ideas for ways to help with her present condition, but we’ll have to wait for a later issue to see if those thoughts come to fruition.
In the meantime, Gwen suits up and has a heart to heart with her father, explaining to him why she has to do what she’s about to do. Gwen understands what kind of man Castle is-the kind who can’t see any other viewpoint but his own, his perception its own deadly reality. The entire creative team comes together to provide a rising climax to the issue as both sides dramatically get ready for their confrontation. Gwen goes to meet her hunter head on, maybe not having the power that she used to, but all the responsibility it bestowed upon her.
The issue wraps in its usual profile page, this time spotlighting Jean Dewolff, adding a nice little insight that she, too, was a member of the Yancy Street Gang. Latour and Co. continue to touch upon the old Spider-Man themes of power and responsibility. Gwen may be a young character with the art adding to that youthful energy, but this team gets what a Spider character should be about. They manage to show their fun side month in and out, yet still balance it with the sturm und drang befitting this type of hero. Affe’s coloring provides a sense of continuity to the art and to say I’m eagerly awaiting the next chapter would be an understatement!
MY GRADE: A
JAVI’S HUH?: How does one get maple syrup in the Kirby Krackler?