I admit it. I got sucked in by the hype. My Facebook feed and the comic sites I visit were all hyping “Spider-Gwen #1”. It’s Gwen Stacy, as Spider-(Wo)Man! Holy moley!
I don’t read too many new comics, but I always have a soft spot for Spider-Man and all things related, and compounding that was how much my girlfriend prefers Gwen Stacy over Mary Jane (based on their characters in the movies) and the fact that Jason Latour will be appearing at the Boston Comic Con this year, so there’s potential for some sweet signage on my issue. With those facets in mind, and with a gift card to Newbury Comics paying for all of it, I decided to take the dive and pick up Spider-Gwen #1.
Would I opt for the regular cover, or spend $2 more on a Newbury Comics-exclusive variant? Well, I liked the regular cover better, so that combined with the sweet taste of savings had me going the standard route. Sometimes covers feel less “monumental” and “iconic” than those of years passed, and it could be because they haven’t been put through the filter of nostalgia yet, but the bold colors, sharp contrasts, and simple pose on Spider-Gwen #1 spoke to me more than a lot of other covers I’ve seen in recent memory (standard cover Amazing Spider-Man #1, I’m looking at you).
The interior art is great, bringing a sense of energy to the whole affair and working in a “cooler” color palette that could help this book stand out on its own. The character design of Spider-Gwen is great, using the familiar Spider-Man elements and bringing some uniqueness to the table without being too cute about the whole thing and looking corny or overdone.
The writing is what sold me on it, as Spider-Gwen brings some of the things I love about Spider-Man into a modern setting. Spider-Gwen’s got jokes and it really feels like a classic Spider-Man tale of yore as she takes on The Vulture in the first issue. Spider-Gwen also has to deal with being spurned by public opinion, as any good Spider-person has to, and deal with the very much alive Captain Stacy, which brings up something I always want to see more of: superheroes having to deal with their parents. It seems too convenient that most classic heroes were orphans (Superman, Batman, Captain America [at least according to the movie], Spider-Man) so actually seeing a heroine have to deal with a parent is refreshing. My only nitpick might be about the MaryJanes sub-plot, if only because most fictional takes on the “meteoric rise of a band” ring false to me, mostly because I’m jaded and think any band that plays instruments isn’t allowed to be famous anymore. That said, the actual story elements of layering Gwen Stacy’s Spider-Woman problems on top of band strife is unique, and it does serve to underscore what my girlfriend has thought this entire time: Mary Jane is an egotist and Gwen Stacy is far better. In that respect, I’ll give it a pass.
My other quibble would be with the alternate-universe trope of “look what these characters are doing in this universe” popping up in the form of Ben Grimm and Frank Castle involved in the police force, but that’s very much in the background and probably more a result of me reading too many “What If?”s and seeing it over and over again.
Overall, I give Spider-Gwen #1 an A-minus. The comedy is sharp, the plot elements are intriguing, and the modernity of the entire thing doesn’t feel forced. Give it a read!