In a world somewhat like the Marvel Universe, it was Gwendolyn Stacy, not Peter Parker who was bitten by a radioactive insect during a science exhibition. Never before has the phrased “because you demanded it” been greeted with quite so much instant gratification… Your Major Spoilers review of Spider-Gwen #1 awaits!
Previously in Spider-Gwen: The Spider-Verse crossover brought a lot of alternate Spider-totems (I call the “Parallel Parkers”) out of the woodwork, but the one that has gotten the most attention is young Gwen Stacy, the Spider-Woman of another world. Now, she returns to her home world to find out what has transpired in her absence and to try and pick up her life where it left off, before she traveled through time and space and nearly got eaten by a jerk in a cravat…
I think the thing that I love most is that the book starts with a “Previously” section, showing us a little bit of Gwen’s life, pre-Spider-Verse.
IN A WORLD NOT QUITE LIKE OUR OWN
This issue opens with a group of taggers defacing a billboard, only to get interrupted by “Officer Grimm”, who reminds them that he used to be a part of the Yancy Street Gang, as well, but that their shenanigans won’t be tolerated. Immediately, I was reminded of the Weapon X series from around the turn of the century, where Havok was teleported into an alternate world to meet various and sundry versions of the characters we know. Spider-Woman (I just can’t bring myself to call her Spider-Gwen all the time) has returned home to her New York, and finds that things are pretty much the same: Mayor Jameson hates her, there’s a new villain on the loose called The Vulture, her friends are mad at her, Mary Jane still wants her out of the band, and she gets no respect even from the man whose cash register she retrieves from a robber. In short, it’s a classic Spider-Man story with a new protagonist, and a few twists. We do meet Officer Frank Castle, as well as some other familiar faces, but the basis of the story is to put us smack in the life of Spider-Woman and let her be heroic and awesome…
HOME LIFE IS STILL A MESS, TOO
Of course, her dad isn’t happy with her, having discovered that his daughter is the Spider-Woman. And, of course, the last couple of pages don’t bode well, either. But all in all, it’s an exciting first issue, and the art is first-rate stuff. Even the drama-filled lives of the members of the Mary Janes (who are all, I think, Spider-Man’s exes in the mainstream reality) is compelling stuff, and even with some familiar plot points in place, it doesn’t feel like an exact clone of a classic Parker tale. Gwen’s dialogue is snappy throughout the issue, especially in her sparring with The Vulture, and there’s a certain satisfaction in knowing that this book might be free of some of the massive crossover madness that permeates Marvel. That strength is also the weakest part of this issue for me, though, because while it’s nice to see Foggy Nelson, Ben Grimm and others in new roles, it may become difficult to differentiate them in the long run. (See: The Ultimate Universe, and some of the inconsistencies that happened when characters suddenly reverted to a state just like their 616 counterpart.)
THE BOTTOM LINE: A GOOD START
Even with that caveat in place, though, this is a kinetic, clever fun adventure that makes good use of its alternate-universe setting. The costume is amazing, but more importantly, the woman inside it is worth reading about and is well-used within these pages, even if she has no use for the likes of the Bodega Bandit and The Vulture. All in all, Spider-Gwen #1 is an impressive start to a book that fans clamored to see, with excellent art and an amazing cover, making for a darn fine premiere and 3.5 out of 5 stars overall. Fingers crossed that somehow Mary Jane becomes a Green Goblin…[taq_review][signoff predefined=”PayPal Donation” icon=”icon-cog”][/signoff]