Written by: Jason Latour
Art by: Robbi Rodriguez
Published by: Marvel
Gwen Stacy certainly has seen a popularity boom in recent years, after the hugely positive reception of Emma Stone in the Amazing Spider-Man film many fans have wanted a way to bring the character back in the world of comics. While resurrecting Gwen would break one of the ultimate comic taboos, last year we were treated to an Edge of Spider-Verse issue that featured a parallel world where Gwen became Spider-Woman. The book was an unexpected hit with fans everywhere with Spider-Gwen being the breakout star of Spider-Verse. Obviously hoping to capitalise on the success Marvel announced a new ongoing featuring the newly christened fan favourite, though some were worried that this would just be a quick cash-in on a fad. Thankfully, those fears can be put aside with the début of the first issue, Spider-Gwen #1 is an amazing comic that manages to capture all of the charm, charisma and style of Edge of Spider-Verse #2 while expanding the world brilliantly.
First off, let me alleviate any concerns you may have about this ongoing series; the creative team of Jason Latour and Robbi Rodriguez are back on board for this ensuring that everything you loved about the original issue is present here. That means that the modern, humorous personality comes through in the writing and the hugely stylised art is just as jaw-dropping as the first time you saw it. Rather than simply repeat the formula of this first issue, the team here choose to expand Gwen’s world and within one issue (well technically two counting the original) have made it feel like a living, breathing world that has been around for years. The result is a first issue that doesn’t read like a first issue; while this may be a bit off-putting for newbies, I got that sense of the joy of discovery I got when I first started readings comics, every new character we met seemed interested and made me want to know more about them. The world just feels so real and fits perfectly into today’s modern society that makes this feel like a fresh take on the Spider-Man concept perfect for a new generation.
As for the story, it picks up pretty much right after Spider-Verse and the events of the original comic with Spider-Gwen back after an absence due to the aforementioned event to find a new villain on the rise while her dad faces pressure from the mayor and his anti-spider-woman stance. Again, this may make new fans feel a bit confused if they’re jumping in after catching onto the popularity of the character but I’ll give them a little more credit than that and will say I feel the story does enough to explain its concepts and characters without diving into exposition. Really though, I feel that this actually works towards the book’s benefit, the story really hits the ground running because of this and it’s nice to have a first issue that does more than just introduce the status quo. Latour clearly has fun with the elseworld stuff too, not only is our first villain a modern update of a classic spider-man foe, but he also peppers the issue with cameos from classic Marvel characters in surprising new roles. While these probably won’t mean much to newer fans, for a die-hard Marvel fan like myself I found these introductions to be constantly fun and surprising without feeling like a cheap gimmick.
What remains probably the most impressive quality of the book is the gorgeously stylish art of Robbie Rodrigeuz. It’s an incredibly unique style that I couldn’t imagine this series without. It looks youthful, fresh and carries a tremendous sense of personality. The designs of the characters look hugely impressive Gwen’s costume being the shinning example, with the city itself looking dingy and realistic despite the style of the characters.There’s a real Scott Pilgrim sensibility to the art and even the sound effects that carry the personality of Gwen and her world. Even little touches like the editor’s notes manage to be quirky and fun making the book feel like a great package. My words won’t do the art any justice, so just check out some of the preview pages included in this article.
With the art clearly wanting to appeal to a youthful new generation and feeling incredibly modern such as in the the style of Gwen’s band “The Mary Janes”, I was surprised by just how much this book feels like a classic Spider-Man comic. The humour and quips from Gwen feel like classic Peter and her struggles with her personal life and a city that hates her feel very much like classic Spider-Man stories fans have been clamouring for. Therefore while this book definitely appeals to a new audience and is sure to bring in some new fans, I think classic fans will actually find a lot to love here too if they’re willing to give it a chance. It feels like the Spectacular Spider-Man cartoon mixed with Scott Pilgrim and should appeal to both old and new fans alike.
Overall, I’m very glad Marvel took a chance on a book like this. It’s easy to be cynical in times like these that Marvel only care about money or “forced diversity”, so I’m really happy that a book like this featuring a (technically) new character that feels diverse from other Marvel books can get such a huge reception and that Marvel can respond so quickly to listen to the reader’s wishes. Spider-Gwen #1 is a book that feels fresh and appealing to a new generation of Spider-Man fans, while honouring everything that makes the character great and providing plenty of reasons for old fans to get the joy of experiencing the story all over again. In short, a truly wonderful comic experiences that’s sure to be among the best débuts of 2015.