Spider-Gwen (Vol. 2) #21 Review


“This is my life? Am I really considering safe haven from a talking pig?”

As Gwen and Harry continue to be chased in Madripoor, just how safe is her dad in his cell?

WRITER: Jason Latour

ARTIST: Robbi Rodriguez

COLOR ARTIST: Rico Renzi

LETTERER: VC’s Clayton Cowles

COVER ARTIST: Robbi Rodriguez

ASSISTANT EDITOR: Allison Stock

ASSOCIATE EDITOR: Devin Lewis

EDITOR: Nick Lowe

STORY: The judge declares a mistrial and Aleksei Sytsevich is released, but owes Murdock. In Madripoor, Harry and Gwen are still on the run. DeWolff visits George in jail. The Hand catch up to Gwen and Harry, then so do Wolverine and Shadowcat. Back in Manhattan, Sytsevich is picked up again, this time for kicking over a parking meter. He knocks out the guard and ominously enters George Stacy’s cell.

THOUGHTS: Hey! Look at that! The cover isn’t a cityscape! Incorporating a Rising Sun motif, Rodriguez provides a very distinct visual this time out and I like how he makes The Hand dissolve into red paint smears. They’re just so dense that they bleed into each other. Without his cowboy hat, Wolverine shows off his samurai past with his haircut. Unfortunately, he doesn’t get any further development in the story underneath.

Opening in a court room, Rodriguez manages to make things interesting with facial expressions, body language, and an off-beat camera perspective or two. Latour provides a bluntly honest judge, frustrated to declare a mistrial thanks to Foggy “mishandling” evidence, probably after talking to Murdock last issue, and Castle abusing the prisoner. It’s been a while since we’ve seen the Earth-65 Rhino and it was nice to have him back, especially to continue his grudge with George Stacy from Edge of Spider-Verse #2. Rodriguez really sells his size on the final page of this issue. He dwarfs George in his now seemingly even more tiny cell and you know a world of hurt is coming.

Back in Madripoor, Gwen just can’t seem to get away from bandits. The Bento Bandit doesn’t seem to have a pet sidekick, unlike the much “cooler” Bodega Bandit. I laughed that even to the clerk, these Bandits are a joke, to be yawned at and dismissed completely. Now, Harry shoplifting, that’s a reason for him to be concerned and raise the alarm!

Rodriguez once again just rocks the art in this issue. I love the quirkiness he brings to the animals in the book, cats and mice alike, or fun little details like the “nom nom” as Harry devours his stolen food, or Gwen having a Dad Cop book with her. His faces this issue are full of outrage and worry, complete with the occasional soulful gaze. The alley Harry and Gwen are in feels cramped and narrow.

Renzi continues his unique coloring style. He makes Club Scorpion stand out in its brief appearance with shimmering lights. George’s cell is suitably drab and filthy. My favorite bit of coloring is the effect Shadowcat makes as she phases through the alley wall to nab Spider-Woman from behind. There’s also a color reverb from Gwen using a power-up to heighten the moment.

It seems like Gwen just gets deeper and deeper into trouble. I figure we can cut her some slack as she’s still very young, both in age and crime fighting career, up against a very formidable foe who’s playing a chess game with her that she thought was checkers. I admire her dedication to Harry, but I figured her to be a bit smarter and resourceful. She mentions plenty of people she could turn to for help. If she could reach the Reed Richards she’s friends with, this whole arc could be over! ¬†Instead, the chase continues. I did appreciate Gwen stopping to explain to Harry how this whole powers thing was linked between the spider, lizard serum, and venom, complete with Bitmojis!

I have to admire George Stacy for sticking to his guns, even though it’s about to get him killed. It’s no surprise that this fix is what Murdock had in mind last issue and the team pulls the final scene off perfectly. The art is well paced and very cinematic as we go from one widescreen panel to the next. I don’t feel bad for the guard at all as he very explosively gets knocked out, thanks to Rodriguez and Renzi. The only thing this scene needs is the requisite opera music playing in the background, because you know something unpleasant is going to happen. Heck, it’s even pouring rain outside!

Despite all this goodness, I still felt something lacking. Wolverine and Shadowcat are an afterthought, and while we get more progression back in New York, the wheels are just spinning round and round in Madripoor. The visuals are striking, the characters are engaging, but it feels a bit disjointed from where we left last issue.

MY GRADE: B-

JAVI’S HUH?: What the heck happened to the ninja fight??!?!?!?! What happened to that great ending of “One last roll”?????? I was looking forward to a battle royale, which the cover even alluded to, but we find Gwen and Harry shoplifting when we pick up with them, not even getting a flashback to the epicness that we missed, just a throw away line from Murdock that they only faced a single wave of The Hand. I admit this may have colored my perceptions when it came time to assign a letter grade for this review and made me wonder if I missed an issue.

 

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