Spider-Gwen is coming in with a lot of expectations and heat riding behind it. While it’s easy to see why this version of Gwen Stacy’s debut in Edge of Spider-Verse got so much attention, seeing an ongoing spin out of it was not one of the outcomes I imagined. Yet here we are. Thankfully though, Jason Latour, Robbi Rodriguez, and Rico Renzi prove their initial debut demanded the expansion.
Spider-Gwen #1 picks up right after Spider-Verse and returns Gwen to the life she’d left in shambles in her first appearance. With minimal spoilers, the story wastes no time in showing how meeting a living Peter Parker (and a pig in a costume) altered her life, and ushers her back into a world where she’s a threat and a menace. While all this is going on, Latour and Rodriguez do a fantastic job of setting up their version of the Marvel Universe. The plot and ending of Edge of Spider-Verse #2 had suggested her father who was hunting Spider-Woman for her part in Peter Parker’s death would come to blows, what’s done here is even better.
While it’s part and parcel in Marvel to repurpose characters and familiar names for an alternate universe, Latour and Rodriguez do a superb job of mirroring the characters we do see and making them logical extensions of who they were in the regular Marvel Universe. In effect the book in addition to the Mary Janes, George Stacy, and Gwen herself are plainly in a living breathing world. And while it’s typically considered bad form for whatever reason, the book’s inherent “Tumblr” tone has been an asset in distinguishing it from the rest of the Marvel line, even from my other young superhero favorite Ms. Marvel. Recasting Gwen as a drummer in a garage band goes a long way towards defining her from Peter Parker. While being an outlaw is as classic a Spider-Man trope as it gets, recasting Gwen away from being a scientist like Peter does a more natural job of isolating her, than simply being bullied and a nerd. Plus it helps justify the rhythmic dialogue, which has gone a long way of endearing Gwen and the Mary Janes to me.
That being said, Robbi Rodriguez deserves as much of the credit for bringing the world to life. The world wouldn’t feel like it had life without the design sense Rodriguez brings to the book. Everything from the way Gwen dresses, the Spider-Woman costume, the revised versions of familiar Marvel characters, or even New York City itself wouldn’t jump out without his work. Rico Renzi has been another one of the heroes of this book with the lush colors permeating the book. Gwen’s costume being what it is, the coloring helps her stand out and contrast from the herd of superheroes on the stand, and from the other colorful characters in the books. Together these two have created what is most definitely one of the gorgeous, not to mention neon book you’ll read today.
Lettering has also been a huge factor in defining Gwen’s world. Clayton Cowles also goes above and beyond in making the lettering a distinct quantity in the book. This isn’t something I would normally point to, but the lettering, the word balloons go a long way to remind you Spider-Gwen is not a straightforward Marvel book and is in a different time and place. Overall this has been proof positive that Marvel is doing its best to make sure this book stands out from the rest of this competition. Given the results so far, it’s more than worth the 3.99 you’re paying for it. I for one hope that Spider-Gwen lives a long and fruitful existence in the Multiverse.
5 out of 5 Drum Solos