It’s not often a brand new character spins out of an event and instantly takes hold. Spider-Gwen blew the world away during the Spider-Verse event, instantly put on the map thanks to the clever premise and excellent costume design by Robbi Rodriguez. It’s hard to believe the character has only been around for five or so years and yet was featured in Into the Spider-Verse, has featured in comics every month since her debut, and is one of the most popular cosplay costumes on the convention scene. How did this character go from origin story in Edge of Spider-Verse #2 to world sensation? Marvel Comics is releasing a reprinting of the first Spider-Gwen stories in a smaller digest size this week to let you find out for yourself.
This book is written by Jason Latour with art by Rodriguez, Chris Visions (for issue #5B); color by Rico Renzi and letters by Clayton Cowles. Collecting twelve issues this book holds the origin of Spider-Gwen, reveals all sorts of familiar Spider-Man rogues via alternate dimension kookiness, and develops a strong Gwen Stacy. As an Elseworlds tale, Latour and Rodriguez do a great job lifting up Stacy while revealing how the world is a touch different in so many ways. Seeing Vulture, Lizard, and other villains slightly different and sometimes even scarier is a fun way to enjoy the characters all over again. What is done with Daredevil is particularly genius and it’s always fun to see a hero turn heel.
Many argue the costume design is the main reason folks are interested in this character and while it certainly helps I’d argue Latour’s take on Gwen as a whole person is a big reason why this character will last. Her relationship with her father, her inner hero knowing when to do the right thing, and other important relationships abound to make the character more real. Take for instance a scene where Gwen speaks to Spider-Woman after traveling to the 616 universe. They talk about life and destiny revealing how Jessica Drew is a strong influence on Gwen. So often young heroes just get it, but Gwen worries about being a hero and doing the right thing. On top of that, she has a strong relationship with her father which we don’t often see in comic books.
The book opens with Edge of Spider-Verse #2, set in an alternate dimension where Gwen received the Spider powers and Peter remained a lowly nerd. The issue opens with Gwen practicing with her band and she ruminates on the fate of her life. We quickly learn she has a semi-strong relationship to her detective father, Daredevil works for Kingpin and Gwen just loves music. Anyone expecting plot progression as far as the bigger picture should look elsewhere. Latour does a great job showing her guilt, delivering a key action scene and bringing to the forefront her relationship with her father. It all goes a long way in making this character instantly beloved.
The art by Rodriguez is incredibly fluid with an edge that’s rather modern looking. The layouts in the action sequences are quite good too. Just peep the panel above which is so clean yet so kinetic in its delivery. Rodriguez can do it all! The costume is nothing short of inspired too. There are details to it that allow the movement of the character to be a highlight. The use of eyes and hood help convey emotion in their own right too.
My one gripe is the artist change. No shade to Visions, but his style is so starkly different from Rodriguez it’s shocking when the art changes hands. It’s only a hiccup in the grand scheme of things but it will throw you off.
This is a stellar origin story series that is fresh enough to be worth a look. It’s an interesting take on the original Spider-Man origin and it’s fun and fresh because the character’s voice is so strong.