Spinning out of “Spider-Verse,” yet another beloved Spider-Woman gets her own comic. Given that Jessica Drew already has “Spider-Woman” locked down and that this Spider-Woman is Gwen Stacy from an alternate reality, “Spider-Gwen” was born. Jason Latour, Robbi Rodriguez, Rico Renzi and Clayton Cowles’ “Spider-Gwen” #1 gives readers a bright, shiny, spidery welcome to Marvel Comics’ newest world.
This world is so fully developed by Latour and Rodriguez that this debut issue feels like a much more seasoned issue in the series. In the same set of pages, however, the creative team gives readers absolutely everything they need to successfully enjoy this story and make the initial investment in the start-up of Gwen Stacy’s webbed adventures. Yes, there is a whole lot more to “Spider-Gwen” #1 for readers to enjoy if they have invested in Marvel Comics and Spider-Man before this point, but exposure to the original webhead need not occur prior to reading.
Latour gives Gwen real world problems as well as superheroic ones. She has family problems and perception problems. She’s a believable teen in an unbelievable situation, and the writer is really just getting started. Gwen is likeable and humorous, conflicted but determined and quick with a zinger. Latour has boiled down everything that makes Spider-Man such an iconically enjoyable and connectable character and built Gwen Stacy around that framework. Along the way, he grabbed a few familiar names and put a new spin on them, thus creating a whole new Marvel Universe.
Of course, it helps that Latour has a talented visual collaborator along for the ride. Rodriguez mixes styles like Rafael Albuquerque, Tom Raney and Mike McKone’s and comes out with a jackalope. His style has hints of influences that beg comparison but, as a whole, there simply is no analogy. Rodriguez delivers distinct characters that carry themselves like individuals and move through the story in a wonderfully readable manner. Most importantly, he imbues each character with the essence of their personality and shows that through the panels. Vulture is ugly and old, Frank Castle is a little crazy and certainly fearful and Spider-Gwen is fun and amazing.
Were this a coloring book, Rico Renzi would be using only the brightest and sharpest crayons in the box, wearing them down to dull nubs in order to milk all of the vibrant color out of them. From the electric magenta opening to the text pieces of “Spider-Gwen” #1 (which admittedly may be attributed to concerted efforts from letterer Clayton Cowles) to the sickly pea soup green billowing around the Vulture throughout the issue, Renzi makes this comic pretty, dazzling and spectacular. Yes, Rodriguez’s art gives Renzi plenty to work with, but this comic wouldn’t be half as gorgeous in graytone.
With help from designers Idette Winecoor and Jessica Pizarro, the end result is a simply stunning comic book that is daringly unlike anything else Marvel is giving readers right now. Filipe Andrade’s “Captain Marvel” is the closest and most recent Marvel comic book I can think of that exhibits a similar boldness of style.
It’s only February, but Marvel gives readers another very strong offering for 2015 with “Spider-Gwen” #1. The story is fun, familiar, energetic and invigorating, the art is engaging and the character has nothing but potential to offer. “Spider-Gwen” #1 is more than just a comic with something for everyone; it’s a comic with everything for everyone. “Spider-Gwen” #1 is solid enough that even your parents may just dig it too.