“Gather round and hear my tale of woe. The death of a fair that once chilled and thrilled crowds so. A place now so lost that none dare go…the cursed carnival of Myster-i-o!”
The Mary Janes get more spills and chills than they bargained for when they sneak into Mysterio’s deadly carnival!
WRITER: Jason Latour
ARTIST: Robbi Rodriguez
COLOR ARTIST: Rico Renzi
LETTERER: VC’s Clayton Cowles
COVER ARTIST: Robbi Rodriguez
HANDBOOK ENTRY PRODUCTION: Joe Frontirre
ASSISTANT EDITOR: Allison Stock
EDITOR: Nick Lowe
STORY: The Mary Janes go Trick or Treating, but Gwen isn’t feeling it. Betty takes the band to an abandoned old carnival and high-jinks ensue.
THOUGHTS: Once upon a time, comics weren’t multi-issue epics designed to fit into a trade paperback collection. They were “done in one” stories, that may continue subplots, but overall featured a story that was confined to that sole issue. I’m happy to say that is one of those issues, and a holiday themed one at that!
I love the cover for this issue, not only because everyone has their own distinct font, but it’s about time Mysterio made his Earth-65 debut! His costume’s color scheme is a natural for this book’s color palette! Rodriguez makes a guy with a fishbowl for a head feel suitably menacing, especially with The Mary Janes trapped inside said fishbowl.
I also enjoyed seeing The Mary Janes going out Trick O’ Treating as other heroes, especially as heroes we’ve yet to see make their debut in this universe. I especially enjoyed seeing “Em Jay” as the Scarlet Spider, who happens to be a favorite character of this site’s own “Spidey Dude”, who mentioned on Podcast #437 that SPIDER-GWEN sucks. I’m not saying that Latour or Rodriguez threw the Scarlet Spider in to sway Zach over as the timing is a little too close together, but I certainly found the coincidence funny and as you can see from my grades on this title month in and out, and with respect to my fellow Texan, I don’t find this title to suck at all! Quite the opposite, in fact!
Gwen is still down in the dumps thanks to her father’s impeding legal troubles and the fact she basically sold her soul to Murdock. I can’t say I blame her for this. Much like the classic Peter Parker, anytime Gwen starts to figure things out or get ahead, she gets a setback and this one is a doozy, not to mention the fact that she lost her powers, too. Complicating things even more is that MJ now suspects Gwen is Spider-Woman. It seems like she’s shared this theory with the rest of the band, but it doesn’t seem to matter to them. I like that MJ has this theory as it makes her seem more concerned for Gwen and not so much the diva lead singer of the band. Betty gets some further characterization as well-as a total metal nutcase, but what do you expect from someone whose cat is named “Murderface”?
Giving up on the candy collecting, the band follows Betty’s lead to an old abandoned carnival in a great splash page that gives off a classic horror movie poster vibe, with some ominous purple fog swirling around them. You know right away that you’re in for a fun time! The team doesn’t let up with the Halloween tropes either as the issue progresses. We’ve got Scooby-Doo intro eyes, zombies dancing to Thriller, The Shining, and of course, the who’s-under-the-villain-mask-reveal!
When we first encounter Mysterio, he’s in a form in the style of one of those animatronic fortune teller machines. Think Zoltar from BIG or The Riddler from BATMAN FOREVER. He tries to go all big and menacing, but fritzes out, earning a “Cool story, bro.” out of Mary Jane. It doesn’t take long for the whimsy to give way to terror as smoke funnels in and the floor drops out from underneath all, save for Betty and Murderface. As one would expect from a Mysterio story, this is where the illusions start to kick in, but because it’s Halloween, the scenes have more of a Batman villain Scarecrow bent. Before Gwen’s hallucination separates her from MJ and Glory, MJ pleads for Gwen to save them, not knowing Gwen is powerless. The dialogue reveals Gwen’s frustration and MJ’s desperation.
Gwen’s fear sequence was very well done. Starting off with the graves of her loved ones, then being covered in spiders, she then hears to my mind what is a slow, dying version of their hit song, “Face It, Tiger”. The scene builds beautifully to a reveal of a zombified, but talking, Peter Parker. After a brief cut to see Betty fighting zombies and texting Falcon (a nice touch that they’re still talking), we get back to Gwen’s personalized nightmare. Peter holds the Dollar Dog uniform-attired Gwen to a mirror, showing a cruel reflection of her in her Spider suit. As her verbally pokes and prods her, these very sharp, Venom-like teeth start to swallow the Spider-Woman doppelganger whole. More foreshadowing of Gwenom? “Peter” just keeps tormenting her, picking at all her insecurities, including her fear that she’s addicted to power and that she’s not a good enough friend to reveal her identity to the band.
When she finally gets thrown out of the frying pan, she lands in the zombie fire as MJ and Glory are running for their lives. The transition from pathos to horror to comedy is smooth as MJ laments that it had to be stupid fast zombies. I enjoyed the multiple reveals of who Mysterio was under the mask and Betty’s reactions to them all. She’s clearly the only one having fun this issue.
The issue ends with the requisite profile page, this time focusing on The Mary Janes, and preview of the next cover, hinting at Thanksgiving, Electra, and Matt Murdock. The problem is, it lists it as #13 which happens to be this issue, but the date at least has it coming out the day before Thanksgiving, so at least it’s timed right! I’ve really been enjoying these profile pages, both for their whimsy and the backstory they fill in. Reading the origin of The Mary Janes made me want to reread Edge of Spier-Verse #2, a.k.a. Spider-Gwen #0, and the Black Cat issues again.
This issue was such a good time to read. After all the drama and stakes of the last outing, this one managed to have a lot of fun, but still have some emotional weight to scenes. This is a Halloween issue done right, containing plenty of ghouls, although no (green) goblins. Hats off to introducing the Mysterio of Earth-65 in a clever and timely way. I’d love to see this become a tradition, with Mysterio returning to menace them again. Night of The Living Dread II, anyone? Once again, everyone involved did a stellar job, from script, to letters, to colors, to art. Easily my favorite comic of the week!
MY GRADE: A+
JAVI’S HUH?: Alright, so what’s this volume’s actual title? It only says “Spider-Gwen” on the cover and inside, yet the editor’s note mentioned “Radioactive Spider-Gwen #9”, a descriptor that has been left off for the last few issues now. Help us out, Marvel!