The Spider-Man/Spider-Gwen: Sitting in a Tree TPB collects the entire “Sitting in a Tree” crossover event between Miles Morales and (the alternate reality Spider-Woman version of) Gwen Stacy. There’s a lot of dimension hopping, vibrant colors, and teenage angst and flirtation. Is it good?
Writers: Brian Michael Bendis, Jason Latour
Artists: Sara Pichelli, Robbi Rodriguez
Publisher: Marvel Comics
I’ll start by addressing the writing. It’s a bit uneven at times, but well-done overall. The Spider-Man issues penned by Brian Michael Bendis are probably the stronger half of the trade. It’s hard to craft a single story arc that takes place over two series while still rendering each series readable on its own. Bendis addresses this problem by rendering his half of the arc as a frame story. Miles tells his roommates Ganke and Fabio about his adventure with Gwen, and the reader learns about it alongside them. Ganke in particular is a talking recap device, asking Miles to go back and explain events. This feels a little clunky at times, but it ultimately works. Another positive aspect of the writing is Bendis’ handling of Miles. Unsurprisingly, Miles’ voice continues to shine through loud and clear—Bendis co-created the character, after all.
The Spider-Gwen issues penned by Jason Latour don’t fare quite as well. It’s not that they’re badly written; Latour just doesn’t make the characters as engaging as Bendis does. It doesn’t help that a lot of the arc’s more questionable events occur in the Spider-Gwen issues. We get several issues of build-up regarding Miles’ search for his father and then…his father shows up in what feels almost like an afterthought. We get a touching moment between Miles and Jefferson, but the pacing just feels too rushed. The volume as a whole, across issues of both series, feels unbalanced. Some events last a bit longer than they need to, and others feel sped through. The pacing flaws hinder the arc’s overall sense of cohesion.
The volume’s most memorable strengths pertain to its art. The colorist team is fantastic. Justin Ponsor colors the Spider-Man issues, and his work really enhances the emotional effectiveness of a lot of key scenes. Over on Spider-Gwen, Rico Renzi knocks it out of the park in a different style. Renzi’s color choices are neon and electric, and imbue the New York cityscapes with a sense of both fun and urgency. Sara Pichelli pencils the Spider-Man issues and, as usual, does a great job. Her characters’ facial expressions are believable, humorous, and moving. Robbi Rodriguez’s pencils on the Spider-Gwen half of the crossover are less consistent. They do a good job creating a sense of momentum in fight scenes, but the characters’ faces are frequently displeasing to look at.
Overall, this is an enjoyable volume. The crossover definitely has its flaws (the events don’t connect together as seamlessly as they could, and Ms. Marvel’s appearance feels unneeded) but the art team helps make up for the less consistent aspects of the writing. I do appreciate the way the ending addressed a potential Miles/Gwen relationship. The characters aren’t immediately rushed into a romance, and while the door is left open for love to blossom later on, the possibility doesn’t feel entirely predestined. Some of the details could have been better managed, but “Sitting in a Tree” is still a fun story with likable protagonists and great artwork.