In 2014, Marvel Comics got this crazy idea – to create a storyline featuring every incarnation of Spider-Man that has appeared in any media, all uniting against a common foe. Thus, the Spider-Verse was born.
In one of these alternate realities, Gwen Stacy was the one bitten by the radioactive spider so she got the powers rather than her boyfriend, Peter Parker. The good people of New York call her Spider-Woman and consider her a vigilante. The character proved so popular that she earned her own solo title this year, Spider-Gwen. Issue #1 came out in February, written by Jason Latour with art by Robbi Rodriguez.
The first issue has a brief panel or two to catch up new readers or serve as a reminder to those who read the Spider-Verse comics and then the reader is dropped straight into the action. In this universe, Peter Parker is dead and the public thinks that Gwen Stacy, in her guise as Spider-Woman, killed him. She’s trying to do what’s right and fight crime in her city but everyone thinks she’s a super villain. There are some notable cameos from other Marvel characters, such as Kingpin, Daredevil’s arch-nemesis, Daredevil himself, Matt Murdock, and Frank Castle, who is likely better known to some comic fans as The Punisher. Even Mary Jane Watson shows up, front-woman of a band called the Mary Janes (with their hit single “Face It, Tiger” burning up the charts!). A fun side plot- Gwen is their drummer!
There are moments when Gwen is plagued with doubt as to what she’s doing and why she’s doing it. When a manifestation of her conscious appears, she starts to talk to it. It turns out her conscious is Spider-Ham, another denizen of the Spider-Verse. (Not to be confused with Spider-Pig from television’s The Simpsons.)
The art is colorful and action-packed. At times the colors drive home the point that the world is somewhat fantastical. Robbi Rodriguez does a great job with the movement of everyone involved, and their facial expressions are particularly striking. Latour’s story is well-crafted and serves to remind us that, even if she is a hero, Gwen Stacy is still human. She wrestles with what to do just as her father tries to figure out how to protect her from his position in the police department.
Superhero comics can be daunting to start and this was no exception. Wikipedia provided many helpful details for me in order to flesh out the background so I was able to fully enjoy the story. The panels occasionally have asides from the editor or writer, denoted by an asterisk next to the text and then a tiny bubble with a drawing of the person and explanatory text. Not something I’m used to seeing so it seemed a little strange. It was a fun read, though!
Issue #3 of Spider-Gwen was out on April 1st and it looks like it will run for awhile, although we’ll have to wait and see what happens when Marvel shakes up their universe in May.