“All that matters is–now I’m your only hope for being Spider-Woman.”
Matt Murdock has a present for Spider-Gwen this holiday season, but what will it cost her???
WRITER: Jason Latour
ARTIST: Robbi Rodriguez
COLOR ARTIST: Rico Renzi
LETTERER: Travis Lanham
COVER ARTIST: Robbi Rodriguez
HANDBOOK ENTRY PRODUCTION: Joe Frontirre
ASSISTANT EDITOR: Allison Stock
ASSOCIATE EDITOR: Devin Lewis
EDITOR: Nick Lowe
STORY: Murdock breaks into a S.H.I.E.L.D. prison to meet with Cindy Moon. The Mary Janes are playing a gig when they get robbed. The mugger gets stopped by a ninja named Otomo, who delivers a message to Gwen. Officer Boyle takes Gwen’s statement and she explains to him what’s going on with her dad. Spider-Woman waits for Murdock on the roof for their midnight meet when she is attacked by The Hand. They test her in combat and Murdock then leaves her with unlimited power-ups. Officer Boyle delivers a gift to George Stacy in his cell.
THOUGHTS: Rodriguez provides a striking cover this month that reminds me of those old Connery James Bond main titles, except instead of writhing women we get Matt Murdock taking on a more devilish persona. It really popped on the stands when I saw it!
‘Tis the season and Latour completes his holiday trilogy with this issue. Opening with Jingle Bell Rock playing over the loud speakers as the S.H.I.E.L.D. secret prison guards watch over Cindy-65, Latour calls to mind the beginning of Richard Donner’s Lethal Weapon. Then as the guards debate the pop culture merits of Dad Cop 2 and the Christmas season, a more Quentin Tarantino vibe comes across. For those who count flicks like Lethal Weapon and Die Hard as Christmas movies, I’m sure Dad Cop 2 fits in perfectly with that genre! The mood quickly shifts to a horror vibe as Rodriguez and Renzi jump in to add fright to the scene as we finally get a glimpse of Murdock’s Daredevil guise! It’s a blend of business suit and Japanese Noh mask with the obvious horned motif. It totally works for this incarnation! I love how they crammed all these different tones in the first two pages! They really make it feel cinematic and then we get the reveal that Murdock and Moon are “frenemies with benefits”, concluding this very strong opening.
It was nice to see Gwen once again performing with The Mary Janes for a holiday gig. Even without powers, trouble seems to find her and her two lives collide when a mugger tries to make off with all the money they are earning for their performance. This creates an interesting parallel as Gwen has to decide to stop a fleeing criminal. Does she use one of her four remaining power-ups that we are reminded of as they pop up video game style over a panel or let him get away, possibly recreating Peter Parker’s Original Sin? Gwen seems to be splitting the difference, giving chase without her abilities, hoping for the criminal to run out of steam or divine intervention. Instead, she gets help from the opposite direction. Had the ninja not intervened, would Gwen have eventually used the power-up to save their food and rent money?
As Gwen talks with the arresting officer, Latour presents the two viewpoints over the “Spider-Gwen: Hero or Menace?” debate. As the officer points out, Gwen demonstrates her 19 year old maturity. It’s important for Gwen to see that even though some of the NYPD don’t like what her father did, they don’t approve of how Castle went about things, either. Later, the same cop gives George some hope for the future when he visits the former Captain Stacy in jail. Could he also be used to remind and inspire Gwen that she’s not alone in her fight? Or was the closing scene just for the holiday feels?
Rodriguez pencils all of this issue and he really brings it when it comes to Gwen’s fight (or pummeling) with The Hand. Speed lines and tilted perspectives are the order of the day and it all looks fantastic, especially aided by Renzi’s colors. There’s a cool snow effect, too, that gets sprinkled throughout. I also really love the background cityscapes that they provide. They’re very colorful, not just the usual purple and pinks, and Rodriguez uses them well, adding to the sense of height.
Gwen exemplifies the Spider-Spirit as she tries her best in the fight, but she is outclassed and down to three power-ups. Even worse, she now realizes that Murdock knows her situation, as he aloofly, but amusedly, looks on. She is literally on her knees by the fight’s end and that’s when Murdock slimily glides in. A little more POV in the art would’ve helped further sell how he is dominating over Gwen in the situation, but Gwen is rendered as suitably shocked and stunned by the temptation the Devil offers her.
Murdock really is the devil in this issue. Not only in his earlier appearance, but in how he tempts Gwen. The situation is open ended as he leaves Spider-Woman in the snow, sitting in front of his offer. We never see her take it. Will she just hold on to it until she needs it most? Throw it away? Fully succumb to Murdock’s thrall? Did Cindy-65 doctor it in some way? Is a symbiote inside? The possibilities are endless.
This issue felt like it went by really quick, but it was still a very enjoyable read to me. There was humor, horror, action, drama, great art and brilliant colors. So, a typical issue of Spider-Gwen! Murdock and Moon’s relationship is an interesting twist that doesn’t bode well for Gwen. She’s already acquiesced to Murdock once. Will she go further down the rabbit hole? Can Miles help her out of it?
MY GRADE: A-
JAVI’s HUH?: How many Dad Cop movies are there? Does George have the box set?