“Living is making the most…of your time with the good people who come into your life. And being thankful for what you’ve been given.”
Thanksgiving, Earth-65 style! However, will the Radioactive Spider-Gwen have anything to celebrate?
WRITER: Jason Latour
ARTISTS: Robbi Rodriguez & Chris Visions
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: Gwen visits her father in prison, with Matt Murdock in tow. Uncle Ben gets invited to play football with Flash, but declines. Aunt May runs into Gwen and they ride the subway home…with Aunt May possibly knowing Gwen’s secret identity! Jessica Drew and her family visit Gwen for Thanksgiving, but the meal gets cut short when the Koala Kommander attacks!
THOUGHTS: Spider-Gwen’s tour through the holidays continues, this time focusing on Thanksgiving, as is apparent on the cover! I thought it was a clever use of Elektra’s sai on the turkey and I didn’t even realize until I started writing this review that Murdock really doesn’t appear much in this issue for being the star of the cover. Despite his lack of screen time, he’s at least in a few pages, compared to Venom from the recent Spider-Man #9, who graces the cover only. Already, Spider-Gwen is ahead of the game!
Jumping right in, I was surprised that there was no great revelation to George that Gwen has aligned herself with Murdock for assistance. I fully expected Latour to stretch her secret allegiance to the Kingpin out, resulting in a devastating shock when George found out what had been going on as he was behind bars. Obviously, George is not thrilled to be in the same room with this slime, but he was restrained, both physically and literally in the scene, not allowing his internal fireworks to erupt for all to see. I appreciated the parallel of the scene opening with the overhead view of his hands shackled to the table and closing the scene with Gwen, looking down at her own hands after she’s left, feeling the restraints that aren’t physically there. Good stuff.
Latour gives May and Ben a bit of the spotlight this issue which was nice to see given that it is Thanksgiving and we get to check in with some of Gwen’s extended family. She may be somewhat estranged from them, but it’s obvious that May cares deeply. She once again gives Gwen a heart to heart when she needs it; something the character of Aunt May should be-a confidant, not just the frail, old lady who could die any second as a plot device. May’s faith in Gwen’s potential is overwhelming, especially in light of Gwen’s fearful suspicion that May knows her secret. For me, it was the most touching scene in the issue, especially given the potential tragedy of how Ben is coping.
May sadly points out that her pep talk of a conversation can never happen again, not with Ben still feeling the way he does. He may seem big and bold, but when Flash tries to tempt him with some Thanksgiving football, he sullenly withdraws, still mourning Peter. The way the scene is staged, I wonder if Latour is setting him up as some possible future threat, maybe not as a costumed villain per se, but to Gwen’s way of life. We’ve seen in other realities that May has been able to mourn Ben and move on, so it makes this scenario where Ben is the one grieving interesting as we don’t know what he’ll do or what he’s capable of.
After having some of the focus last issue, the Mary Janes show up only as a group text message. It was a nice, modern way of reminding us of their importance to Gwen, without having the absurdity of how things would work out if this was a tv show where usually the characters come some kind of distance to say a few brief words then disappear again. The medium of comics works much better in having their messagess be part of the art, like a word balloon or box of text.
It should come as no surprise that Rodriguez is his usual great self on his portion of the art duties. Even in scenes where Gwen is dealing with her internal Spider-Guilt, he provides a great sense of motion to moments of non-action, as evidenced by the subway scene. The book is staged very well and I loved that as Gwen introspectively broods she is as shocked out of it as the reader is when they turn the page to see not only a change of art styles, but a burger to the face!
Visions is back, and whilst I’ve previously enjoyed his contributions to this title, never has it felt more out of place as it does here, back to back with Rodriguez. Both styles may be deemed quirky, but his heavy line work is in stark contrast to his predecessor. It works for that jarring transition, but then it feels like you’ve entered another world, one of visual inconsistencies with the first half of the tale.
Art differences aside, character is still the main focus. May bolsters the Spider-Woman side of Gwen and Jessica serves the same purpose for the Gwen side. It seems that her talk brings into focus the lack of romance that Gwen has had, presumably laying the track for the upcoming relationship with Miles Morales. I enjoyed how Visions focused on Gwen’s shoes, as if she was too embarrassed for this part of their conversation and had to gaze down at the floor. I thought the Back To The Future banter was funny and that Gwen gave a good Thanksgiving speech as what she was truly thankful for came into focus. Cutting to the important people in her life and seeing what they were doing as she was speechifying was a nice touch, but not having a panel showing The Mary Janes was a missed opportunity.
Latour has consistently shown he can juggle dramatic themes well with the absurd, as evidenced again by this issue’s closing. At the issue’s start, we saw the beginning of the Thanksgiving parade, complete with Earth-65 Captain America balloon. Latour brings us back to that scene, but now the Koala Kommander is attacking, the Spider-Ham balloon in potential peril! Roger himself comments, “What is this awesome nonesense?!” Indeed. We wrap things up with the requisite profile page, featuring Ben and May Parker, and the preview of next issue’s cover.
I gotta say, I love this book. The recent single issue stories are only serving to shore that up. Gwen may not engage in fisticuffs this issue, but plenty of villainy is afoot and we get some great characterization. The art is strong, but not exactly compatible, be it in style or continuity. I’m looking forward to seeing how the team tackles the winter holidays!
MY GRADE: A-
JAVI’S HUH?: When/how did George get a black eye? When Gwen visits him, he’s fine, but when we cut to him at the end his right eye is swollen shut. Did he get jumped in a deleted scene on the way back to his cell?
What’s up with Gwen’s hair? Rodriguez has it short, barely hitting her neckline, but Visions has it flowing over her shoulders. Is it her Earth-616 wig?
I have no idea what this emoticon means…