In Dennis Hopeless, Greg Land and Jay Leisten’s “Spider-Woman” #2, Jessica Drew is undercover in Loom World, the Inheritor’s home, and — thanks to a doppelganger and that old Drew luck — she’s in deeper than she ever could have realized. Despite artwork that makes the issue drag, “Spider-Woman” #2 absolutely nails the character with its spot-on dialogue and narration for an overall enjoyable read.
Let’s get the bad over with first: Greg Land is just not the right artist for this book. With the protagonist letting her feminist flag fly about mid-way through the issue, her characterization grinds painfully against Land’s stale, lifeless faces and creepy plastic smiles. Though the posing as a whole isn’t bad, he does have some cheesecake moments, like when Silk hits the ground in a near split after an explosion and the way he constantly emphasizes prominent thigh gaps. He frequently shifts the focus of the panel towards Jess’s chest and butt, framing the action around this while she stands prominently in the foreground. His proportions are sloppy and inconsistent, fluxuating from panel to panel. When Silk arrives on a desolate world with nigh unlivable conditions, the dramatic reveal of what that means is less effective due to Land’s inability to sufficiently portray Silk’s terrible coughing fits and the Inheritor twins’ dramatic recoil upon stepping foot in that universe.
Where the room for creativity abounds in this issue, with Loom World existing as the mish-mashed product of pieces from other universes, Land languishes over generic backgrounds and humanoid figures; colorist Frank D’Armata tries to inject some outlandishness into this world with an array of bizarre skin tones, like gray and green and blue, but even that fails to truly portray the Frankenstein’d world described in Jess’s narration. Though the inhabitants look as though they were plucked from different time periods, there’s no truly alien feel to Loom World. D’Armata and inker Jay Leisten put their best foot forward in this issue, but they get drowned out by the discrepancies in Land’s performance.
Artwork aside, Hopeless tells a fantastic story — and, more than that, a fantastic Jessica Drew story. Despite its ties to the “Spider-Verse” event, “Spider-Woman” feels unique thanks to the flawless execution of her narration and dialogue. He conveys Jess’ dry (if hapless) attitude in an easy, natural way that carries the plot in addition to her personality; the story falls around her in an “this could only happen to Jessica Drew” kind of way, which makes it stand apart from the larger event and sets a good precedence for the tone of the book going forward. Her deadpan lines and terrible jokes fill the book with some chuckle-worthy humor that really drives her characterization home.
What’s more, Hopeless’ story is suspenseful and breaks the formulaic nature of the event so far. Though Jess’ newfound popularity on Loom World brings a tide of gifts, he instills a sense of dread and mounting tension as Jess finds herself in a few sticky situations thanks to her reputation in this world. This builds to an appropriately jaw dropping conclusion, which sets Jess up for an intense follow up where she’ll have to get by on her — uh — finesse and wit as established in this issue. There’s a great, creepy “Stepford Wife” vibe to Miss Jessica and the doppelganger plot here as well. Although Silk does get a good bulk of page time, including one major reveal that will tie into the larger event, the book will certainly be stronger once she’s off it so that it can focus more on its fascinating titular character.
All things considered, “Spider-Woman” #2 is a complicated issue. With a strong and utterly enjoyable core story and perfect dialogue execution, Hopeless demonstrates that this will be a book worth buying once “Spider-Verse” is over and done. However, Land’s style just doesn’t fit the tone or character and it can’t convey the emotional impact of the issue’s reveals. Fortunately, Hopeless puts a lot into “Spider-Woman” that’s worth sticking around for.