Writer: Jason Latour / Artist: Robbi Rodriguez / Marvel Comics
When we left Gwen in issue #6 she was running away into the night, having reinjected herself with temporary spider powers and kicking The Punisher through a glass window (Earth-65’s Punisher. If you’re reading the regular-universe The Punisher by Becky Cloonan you can find those reviews here, it’s a great comic). In front of her friends. In front of everyone. Gwen Stacy is working through the struggle of choosing to have powers and what that dependency – one she never realized until given the choice – means for who she is as a person. And as it is in real life and fiction, self-exploration is a hard, emotional journey.
While the premise leans us towards that journey of emotional self-discovery, issue #10 falls short in moving very much forward on the promise of that premise. Instead, this issue feels more like a filler outside of an early conversation Gwen Stacy has with her father – a conversation that was a great set-up for somewhat deflating payoff when Frank Castle brings in a contractor, Kraven, to hunt Spider-Gwen. Kraven controls jungle animals, which, along with a de-powered spider hero, makes for some relatively uninteresting action, although it would lend itself well to some funny Jungle Book jokes. I found them funny anyway, as several other Spider-Gwen quips that were the silver lining of this round of Radioactive Spider-Gwen.
Spider-Gwen is known for its amazing artwork, and compared against other comics it continues to be absolutely incredible, with particular credit given to Rico Renzi’s consistently exceptional colors. By now we have to compare Radioactive Spider-Gwen with itself though, and in that sense the art in issue #10 inherently suffers from the story plot. Scenes of Gwen being non-powered leave us without the same action fans come to love, and some looked rather awkward with a half-masked Gwen trying to superhero without superhero-ing. There was a minor gaff that made me raise an eyebrow and smile as Gwen was wearing her costume under a yellow tee – in one panel she’s randomly costume-less under the tee, and then costumed again.
Overall, I wouldn’t call this a throwaway issue, but this is about as close as one could expect from a series like Spider-Gwen. Looking forward to Gwen working past this side-boss and making her way to the real one, and finding herself along the way.
Reading Radioactive Spider-Gwen? Catch up on previous reviews here.