Writer: Jason Latour
Artist: Robbi Rodriguez
Another week, another bunch of #1s from Marvel’s All New All Different line. Of particular highlight is the return of the rabidly successful Spider-Gwen, the darling of cosplayers and casual readers alike, after disappearing into Web Warriors during the mess of Secret Wars.
Edge of Spider-Verse #2 (Gwen’s first appearance as the webslinger in turquoise chucks) was one of my favorite comics this past year, though overall I felt her solo series was lacking a certain punch. Sure, Robbi Rodriguez’s lines and Rico Renzi’s colors made for visually gorgeous issues, and the universe Jason Latour was writing had me wanting a series of books instead of just a single monthly, but I think the approaching relaunch put a damper on how much they could really do with Gwen and her world. After all, why plan epics when you’ve got a universal reset on the way?
Thankfully, Spider-Gwen #1 (or Radioactive Spider-Gwen #1 if you believe the cover) packs a ton of potential and plot threads.
Gwen Stacy’s living a life of millennial mediocrity in her version of New York, using her web-slinging powers to traverse traffic to not be late for her first day of horrible retail work. Meanwhile, her father – aware of her double identity – is fighting off against his fellow officers in trying to protect her. The world believes that Spider-Woman killed Peter Parker (this universe’s Lizard), and Spider-Woman is public enemy #1. But, is Peter Parker really dead? Tune in next month to find out!
One of the things I looked forward to most when reading Spider-Gwen was seeing her world develop and all the role swapping of Marvel mainstays. From a corrupt Matt Murdock to Frank Castle, police lieutenant, Latour has been at the top of his game in throwing us these curveballs. There are more familiar faces warped – Harry Osborn, for instance, as a DnD nerd – and introduced alongside at least one new character I’m very eager to see more of.
The All New All Different Spider-Gwen starts to fix on a big problem I had with the last series, and that was Gwen Stacy herself. The book’s pacing and focus on world building didn’t leave enough time to develop Gwen herself, and I was constantly left wanting more from her personality. Yes, we knew the source of her angst, saw glimpses in her interactions with her band and dad, but it was all focused on her life as Spider-Woman, not on her as Gwen Stacy. With some well-placed flashbacks and the addition of a part-time job, the new series is putting more life into her character, and some Parker-patented snark is overwhelmingly welcome. It remains to be seen if this trend continues, or if her involvement in other books starts to draw the focus back to multiversal events.
I’ve heard a lot of people criticize Robbi Rodriguez’s art these days, and while I’m personally a fan, I can’t entirely disagree with the complaints. His work has a magnificent sense of speed and dynamism, and sequences where Gwen is flying through the air and leaping from buildings convey movement and perspective perfect for a spider-hero. However, some issues with anatomy can’t be ignored, particularly when you’re looking close at faces. There are a few too many panels where it looks like Gwen has lazy eye that I’m afraid stylization can’t explain away. Unfortunately, they can really distract from the better work. Renzi’s color work is absolutely fantastic – palettes of acid greens and shocking orange produce such a unique and evocative look that I’m angry the man doesn’t get more work.