Gwen Stacy is back and rocking harder than ever in Spider-Gwen #1. The new series continues after her adventures in the “Spider-Verse” cross over, as well as her origin story in Edge of Spider-Verse #2.
The comic follows her trying to clear her name, while also going after one of her first supervillains, The Vulture, and dealing with some interpersonal conflict among the members of her band, The Mary Janes.
The comic is written by Jason Latour (Southern Bastards) with art from Robbi Rodriguez (FBP: Federal Bureau of Physics) and colors by Rico Renzi (Unbeatable Squirrel Girl).
So how is Spider-Gwen different from Spider-Man (Peter Parker or Morales) besides the obvious?
First of all, she is a rock star as well as superhero. Writer Jason Latour spends a decent chunk of the issue looking at the squabbles between Gloria Grant and Mary-Jane Watson over their missing drummer Gwen Stacy, who has been off superhero-ing and not practicing. There is also the issue of the band’s newfound fame after being attacked by a supervillain.
The New York of Spider-Gwen is a lot more dangerous than 616’s, and is eerily similar to Gerry Conway’s Bronze Age Amazing Spider-Man stories. These included characters with a rougher edge, like the Punisher, police distrust of vigilantism, and just plain street crime. Those themes continue in Spider-Gwen, and Rico Renzi’s mixture of soft and harsh colors as well as the use of graffiti tagging, tall buildings, and lots and lots of trash from Robbi Rodriguez give the comic a pop-crime feel.
How are the plot and characters?
If readers haven’t been following “Spider-Verse” or at the very least read Edge of Spider-Verse #2, the plot can be a little too hard to follow, but an opening action scene featuring the new, meaner Vulture will pull you right in and show that something isn’t quite right about this universe.
Spider-Gwen has a witty voice as a character and makes plenty of quips, including a ton of pop culture references. The humor from her inner monologue and some of the other characters’ dialogue provides a nice counterbalance to the darker universe. Rodriguez gives the Vulture a horror-tinged menace with his redesign even if some of his dialogue is cheesy, and his motivation isn’t really well-defined compared to Spider-Gwen, George Stacy, and some of her other supporting cast members.
How is the artwork?
Robbi Rodriguez uses plenty of speed lines and thin inking in his art to give Spider-Gwen #1 a real punk feel. Spider-Gwen herself is portrayed with thicker lines to act as a superheroic balance or ray of light compared to her really dumpy surroundings. Letterer Clayton Cowles has his hands all over the panels with the spray paint style sound effects which add extra “oomph” to the fight and interrogation scenes.
The characters also have a unique look and fashion style, as well as exaggerated facial expressions. The cartoonish figures and facial expressions might not completely gel with the gritty surroundings, but it’s nice to see a comic deal with darker things, like crime and violence without being serious all the time.
Should I get this comic?
Yes. Spider-Gwen #1 is an energetic start to this new series with a well-developed female lead, who has a blend of wit and inner doubts. The plot is a nice mix of the superhero, crime, and slice of life genres with a creepy looking villain to add tension and conflict. Robbi Rodriguez and Rico Renzi give their art an injection of punk rock with colorful graffiti that contributes to both the plot and comic’s overall aesthetic.