This issue right here might be the most effective issue of Hopeless’ run so far, largely because of misdirection and an extremely effective, status quo changing ending. So please read the issue before you read this review, because going in not knowing is the best way to read this issue.
Spider-Woman #13: Severance Package
Writer: Dennis Hopeless
Artist: Veronica Fish
Colorist: Rachelle Rosenberg
C.Artist: Javier Rodriguez
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Editors: Allison Stock & Devin Lewis & Nick Lowe
Editor-In-Chief: Axel Alonso
We Have To Be Her People Now, Roger. Her Support Group: The issue opens with Jessica Drew in hot pursuit of the super-villain, Blizzard. She makes chump change out of him, but not without getting a little frosty first. She returns home to change out her outfit and after a hot shower, Jessica notices half of her babysitting crew is gone. She does not think much of it, unlike Ben who makes a big deal about Jessica not mentioning it to Roger. Across town, Roger goes to the Bar with No Name (I think) and meets with an anonymous figure.
Jessica checks in on Moon’s Hollow, the community made up of villains’ ex-wives from the first volume. The economy of the town is booming, as it has become a tourist hot spot. Jessica runs into Kallie and Olivia Gocking; Olivia is clearly not fond of Jessica even though her daughter and ex-husband adore her. Since all seems good in the world, Jessica lets her babysitting crew off and spends the night in with Gerry.
Roger and Ben are doing some sleuthing work, as Roger enjoys being the superhero limelight after taking down Sandman. Ben decides to confront Roger about his feelings towards Jessica. Roger admits he does love her, but is more than okay with just being her superhero protege. She makes him into a better person and he values that more, which seems to reassure Ben who knows Jessica is in a bad place after Civil War 2.
Roger forces Ben into hiding suddenly and is confronted by a bunch of D-list super-villains on goblin-tech. They proceed to beat Roger horribly for his decision to change sides. Their boss, Hobgoblin, arrives and is quite mad that Roger did not follow through on a deal they made. He leaves Roger with pumpkin bomb strapped to his chest as a severance package. Ben watches as the bomb goes off and obliterates Roger. The issue ends with Ben at Jessica’s front door, to bring her the bad news.
You Sometimes Say Extremely Weird Things With Little Prompting: This is the best opening issue of a Marvel story line I can think of in recent memory. It is densely packed, building off what has come before and then ensuring it can never go back to the way it was. Let us just run through it, break it down scene by scene.
The issue opens in a quintessential Spider-Family way, with the cold open villain. Blizzard is used more as a plot device for Jessica Drew to explore her life and the relationships in them, but he is a visually exciting villain. One thing I have been asking of Veronica Fish is a little more innovation when it comes to her paneling and page layout. She is definitely taking steps towards this and her fight scenes are all the better for it. She also nails the humorous moments throughout the issue, such as the way Jessica takes down Blizzard.
It is the next scene that really shows off Fish’s skills though. From Jessica’s dramatic entrance to the final moment in the shower, Fish uses a lot of strong line work to create a sense of motion for characters and items. Ben is particularly animated, which makes up for the trouble Fish occasionally has with male faces. Colorist Rachelle Rosenberg has never struggled to bring a realistic color palette to the series, but her work this issue is on another level compared to earlier; she transports the reader to Jessica’s home. And it is in this scene that the issue starts to mislead the reader, starting them down a path we believe will inevitably led to Jessica and Roger discussing his feelings towards her.
The next scene is a single page with Roger, but there is some interesting elements in play. One of which is the fact Bobbi Morse is chumming around in the Bar with No Name, in costume as Mockingbird. This issue sets up an interesting dynamic with Hobgoblin; he seems willing to make deals with either side of the super-powered community. Perhaps Mockingbird will have a larger role to play in this arc? She seems to be a mainstay in the Spider-Family right now, so I am all for it; and Jessica is down a man.
We transition to Moon’s Hollow next; what a great Gilmore Girls reference. This scene is what makes the issue so strong. This is where Hopeless looks back on all the series has managed to accomplish at this point; I would argue the Moon’s Hollow arc is where the series really began after Spider-Verse. Moon’s Hollow is a physical representation of all the good Jessica, Roger, and Ben have done so far and while it is great to see it thriving right now, I do feel like it will come under attack before the arc is over. This is also the scene that will break your heart in hindsight; these last two issues with Roger’s daughter, Kallie, is just heart-wrenching considering how this issue ends.
My favorite scene this issue is when Ben confronts Roger about his feelings towards Jessica. Ben is very worried about Jessica’s state of mind and what would happen if someone in the group was to somehow distance her from them; which Roger’s death still might do if Hopeless wants to take the series in a darker direction. And Roger’s response is golden. Roger recognizes Jessica is the catalyst for change in his life and values that more than any feelings he has towards Jessica. I have been Roger in the past and he never felt more alive to me than that moment.
Which is why his death hurts. A lot. Especially coming off Roger’s finest moment yet last issue where Kallie embraces her father and tells him what a hero he has become. Roger Gocking has been the exposed beating heart of this series, the rock Jessica Drew relies on more than anything else and the series can never go back from this. We literally see him blown up into nothing and Roger is not some super-powered superman in hiding, so there really should not be any coming back from this; stay away from New U, Spider-Woman.
But damn if I do not want to see Jessica Drew avenge him against Hobgoblin. Hobgoblin, in this one move, becomes the greatest antagonist yet in the series. He boosts of two deals he made with Roger, one of which Roger broke and the other he broke himself. The mystery of what these deals are hang over the events of the issue and will hopefully prove to be enlightening later on. One thing I have asked of Rachelle Rosenberg is more bombastic colors, much like what Javier Rodriguez brought to the title. She delivers on that this issue, in the Hobgoblin scene especially, but her colors are more like Rico Renzi’s over in Spider-Gwen, than Rodriguez’s.
Verdict: There is a lot of great series out there, where one would struggle to find something new to praise each issue. Spider-Woman is not one of those series. Each issue speaks to the tremendous quality of the series as a whole, but they also manage to shine in their own unique ways too. This issue is filled to the brim with strong characters, strong visuals, strong humor, and heartbreak. It is both a celebration of what came before and a shake-up to the status quo. The artistic team takes strides in improving their craft and Hopeless sets up quite the struggle for Jessica to overcome.
- Roger Gocking and his relationships
- Artistic team improvements
- Potential for the rest of the arc
- Celebration of Spider-Woman’s achievements
- Clever misdirection
- Emotional turmoil