writer: Jason Latour / artist: Robbi Rodriguez / Marvel Comics
In the aftermath of the Spider-Verse no title was as highly anticipated as Spider-Gwen, completing one of nerddom’s rather unexpected comebacks. Really, Gwen Stacy was practically erased from the memory of most readers for a long time, and was literally dead in the books, killed off long ago and replaced with Mary Jane Watson as the love of Peter Parker’s life. Then Amazing Spider-Man happened, and Emma Stone, and the Spider-Verse, and the dopest costume design you’ve seen in years, and now you find yourself in 2015 trying to buy a fitted red and white spider-hoodie.
This is the stuff that makes me love nerddom. Change can be good, and change can be fun. Welcome to Earth 65.
In an alternate universe from where we are in Earth 616, Gwen Stacy never died – Gwen was actually the one bitten by a radioactive spider, turning her into the Spider-Woman of her dimension. What happened to Peter Parker? Well he turned into the Hobgoblin, but that’s another story. After Marvel’s multiverse event introduced over a dozen different spider-iterations from across the dimensions, the streets were talking and Marvel delivered with writer Jason Latour and artist Robbi Rodriguez.
Of the various spinoffs from the Spider-Verse crossovers (check out Silk #1, for example), this looks the best. From Gwen’s brief run-ins with her arch-nemesis “the bodega bandit,” who hilariously robs convenience stores with the grab-and-run method, to real battles taunting the Vulture, Spider-Gwen manages the same level of charm you love in Peter Park while still being her own person. That’s a pretty big accomplishment.
She also has an amazing character design. Cosplayers are already sewing away at a costume that is awesome in its simplicity, and the art of Robbi Rodriguez and Rico Renzi make Spider-Gwen look stunning. The bright white of her costume makes her stand out in every scene. The person who needs to stand down a little is Mary Jane, who’s a bit obnoxious in this universe as Gwen’s feuding friend.
We’ve seen comic characters “brought back from the dead” a million times, yet Gwen Stacy’s return is a well-done reprisal of a character we lost too soon, and I’m happy to welcome her back. The story isn’t amazing yet, but it’s just getting started, and was solid beginning to a series with high expectations. Overall, Spider-Gwen #1 is a beautifully illustrated and fun story, although I bet we can expect some dark turns soon. She’s a Spidey, after all. Those webs always attract some heartache under all those clever quips.
Score: 8 out of 10