“No! It’s a team-up! Just a harmless old Spider-team-up!”
Gwen and Miles continue their team-up as they try and track down Miles’ missing father. Meanwhile, strange robberies are being committed on the Earth formerly known as 616! Are they connected?
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
ASSOCIATE EDITOR: Devin Lewis
EDITOR: Nick Lowe
STORY: Spider-Man (Peter Parker) busts up some Agents of S.I.L.K. on Earth-616, leaving them webbed up for the police to find. Instead, Spider-Man (Miles Morales) and Spider-Woman (Gwen Stacy) come across them, as they materialize from their portal right in front of the captives. They discover that the bad guys are stealing batteries before the goons mysteriously get portalled back from whence they came…maybe. Gwen and Miles try and figure out what’s going on over a bite to eat. Meanwhile, the Scorpion of Earth-65 keeps testing his portal’s ability to return to the same location, using his henchmen as guinea pigs. Miles and Gwen continue to bond until they are interrupted by Kamala Khan, a.k.a. Ms. Marvel. The trio head off to a stake out and run into more thieving S.I.L.K. agents. Miles manages to go through a portal with some of the escaping agents, leaving Gwen his portal watch to follow him with. To be continued…
THOUGHTS: Gwen and Miles are coming at you on the regular cover! In some ways, it’s a reverse of the last-instead of going up, they are going down, Gwen takes more of a lead this time, and the hue is different, but the buildings still have that Renzi glow. It would be easy to mistake one for the other. Joe Jusko provides a corner box cover art variant. Now, as Gwen has never had one of those on one of her classic (if one can call a series from 2015 “classic”) covers, Jusko takes inspiration from a J. Scott Campbell Vol. 1 issue #2 variant cover. Her boots look more like slippers instead of modified Converse, which is a pet peeve of mine, but otherwise, I love the cover. I don’t think I’ve seen Spider-Gwen painted before and she looks great!
The opening elicited a chuckle just from the scene setting, “the universe formerly known as 616”. Apparently, the main Marvel U is Prince now. We all know that moniker didn’t stick around long for him either. Although explicitly stated, Miles’ portal device didn’t get the memo as it still refers to his new home Earth as 616. Marvel editorial just needs to surrender on this one. Earth-616 is outta the bottle and I doubt it will ever go back in, especially as long as we have characters from other Earths running around in main books.
The meta-textual commentary continues as Peter Parker shows up as Spidey and comments about meeting a few Spider-Women, noting how everything gets a spin-off these days. Presumably Latour is being playfully ironic, given what title this is, but he has a point, too. When Solo has his own book again, it seems like Marvel is trying anything to see what will stick around long term.
Hopefully, something that won’t stick around forever is Peter as the head of Parker Industries, leaving holograms at the scene of a crime instead of a friendly, neighborhood note. I found his prerecorded message as irritating as Miles did, albeit for a different reason. I can understand his territorial frustration with Peter, but he hasn’t had to deal with it much, outside the launch of his own series. We’ll see what the future holds. At least he and Miguel steer clear of each other.
After Civil War II, it’s very understandable why Miles would want to handle this himself without any adults, especially due to the personal nature. It also keeps this crossover from getting too out of hand, allowing for more interpersonal dynamics. Adding Kamala Khan into the mix does increase the awkwardness for both heroes, not wanting to label what may or may not be going on between them, plus it gives them someone else to bounce off of. Some pretty fun exchanges are had, including the revelation that Earth-65 doesn’t have Netflix. Hopefully, Gwen can visit Miles and watch The Defenders when it finally drops on streaming.
Brief as it was, I appreciated getting into Gwen’s side of things and how she feels about Miles. Gwen has often felt isolated and alone, even when surrounded by her friends. Even knowing of her dual identity now, they still can’t understand her in the way Miles does. Latour adds another wrinkle that hadn’t occurred to me-Miles is someone she can talk to that doesn’t remind her of Peter. Kamala might not be a Spider, but if they had a chance to talk more, she could also serve as a support for Gwen as she doesn’t seem to get under her skin the way Cindy does and comes off as more of a peer than Jessica Drew.
Rodriguez throws in a lot of his usual quirky flourishes, be it stars to denote injury or the way he depicts odor emanating from food. The concern in Kamala’s face as she tells Gwen to not hurt Miles is very real and the guilty body language he bestows upon Miles perfectly sells how awkward and embarrassed he feels when Kamala finds him with Gwen. I’m not a fan of the new Peter Parker costume and I would’ve liked to see a little more of it from Rodriguez besides the two panels we did get, just to see if his interpretation could sway me.
Despite how much I loved the art, it did fall flat for me in the moments we saw The Scorpion. This Earth-65 Jefferson didn’t come off as physically menacing as he did under Pichelli’s pencil, seeming more slight in appearance. He was also missing his cane/stinger, which was a bit of a disappointment as I was looking forward to seeing what Rodriguez would do with it. Maybe next time.
Another disappointment I had was the coloring. Yes, Renzi is very talented and I have raved over his contributions to this title over and over again. It’s part of what makes this book so unique. I thought the team on Spider-Man did a phenomenal job capturing the feel of Earth-65 in the last chapter and was greatly looking forward to seeing the tables being turned on this team as they played in the 616. However, what Renzi delivered felt too much like Earth-65. I was really hoping for more of a contrast this issue and it didn’t meet my expectations. This issue was still great to look at, but it just wasn’t what I was looking for.
Chapter 4 of “Sitting In A Tree” was not without qualms for me. Still, there was some great characterization from the leads and I enjoyed the humor provided by the inept S.I.L.K. agents. Something about them made me want to watch The Venture Bros. There are a lot of questions left for me and we have two chapters to go with Miles not feeling any closer to tracking down his dad. Can decompression king Bendis get us any closer with the penultimate chapter? Guess we’ll find out! Latour continues to build up the Gwen/Miles relationship nicely and I still enjoyed the art, I just wish it felt more like we had traveled to a different Earth.
MY GRADE: B
JAVI’S HUH?: I am completely at a loss as to why Miles would be unmasked in front of S.I.L.K. agents. Yes, a lot of people at Club Scorpion saw him, but that was on a different Earth. Even if they are from another world, shouldn’t he be worried about someone from his Earth spotting him? This isn’t a Hollywood movie where the studio wants to see the stars’ faces all the time!
How did The Scorpion get out of police custody? Did he escape? Post bail? Bribe someone? Unless my memory is off, he was arrested at the end of last issue and this one makes no mention of how he got back to his secret base.