Although I, like Gwen herself, am unsure if we’re supposed to be calling her Spider-Gwen, Ghost Spider, or even Spider-Woman currently (we’ll stick with Spider-Gwen for now), I am prepared to say that her story, of a young woman trying to redefine herself but still very much burdened by her connections to the past, is a good one. It’s a story of new beginnings, and different perspectives but also one of old enemies and heartbreak. It’s also the most consistently strong Spider-Geddon tie-in yet solely because the creative team here composed of writer Seanan McGuire, artist Rosi Kampe, and colorist Ian Herring is so cohesive and surefooted. What’s not to love?
What’s it about? Marvel’s preview reads:
A SPIDER-GEDDON TIE-IN! Trapped on a parallel world as her friends are dying, there’s something very familiar about SPIDER-GEDDON to Gwen Stacy. But with her teleporter watch destroyed and no way to get home, Gwen has no choice but to sit idly by while her friends suffer and the Inheritors wreak havoc across the entire Web of Life and Destiny! Heh. YEAH RIGHT! Strap in, kids, things are about to get NUTS.
You’d be forgiven if you think that synopsis makes it sound it like this issue is a mostly transitory one, and make no mistakes, it is as we move towards what seems to be an explosive, funny and goblin-y finale. But it’s not just a transitory setup — it’s also a deep, personal dive into what drives Gwen at a core level.
The narrative hardly pans away from a tense conversation between this alternate Peter and our misplaced Gwen as McGuire piles on the hits of a tragic superhero arc: discovery, heroism, loss, depression…and madness. It cuts to the quick of what makes Gwen a hero not only in her own world, or in the Spider-Verse at large, where her friend’s lives are at stake, but also all the time — what will probably make her a hero here in a dimension she knew nothing about even if she pretends she couldn’t care less on the outside: this unspeakable, unattainable knack for caring about others. It’s what prevents her from cutting all ties from the Spider-Gwen name, and it’s what makes her so suited to carry a Spider- name at all. Here, wrapped up in a massive event tie-in issue, is a perfect encapsulation of that. It’s a great, character-driven narrative that I would’ve gladly read 60, 70, 80 more pages of.
It doesn’t hurt, of course, that the art is equally beautiful and cohesive in its singular purpose. Herring’s color work here is the main star: replete with gradients of light blues, pinks, and purples evocative of our main heroine’s attire — as well as sharp greens and oranges in contrast, the entire issue oozes aesthetic and tonal confidence. It loses a few points in the second half as Kampe starts running out of ways to maintain interesting choreography through a dialogue-driven issue, but even then, things are well done, character-focused and less-than-static in a way that keeps the whole affair from feeling too immobile or spartan, the new and mysterious Green Goblin’s character design remains a real treat.
All said and done, this is a fantastic issue that finds its heart not in the bigger goings-on of Spider-Geddon but in the characters that make those events sustainable both before and after they come and go. Whether she’s Spider-Gwen, Ghost Spider, or Spider-Woman doesn’t matter. She’s still Gwen Stacy, and everyone here gets that to great effect.