An emotional showdown in the incognito town of Moon Hollow propels Dennis Hopeless and Javier Rodriguez’s first arc to a fully nuanced, satisfying conclusion in “Spider-Woman” #8. Jessica takes the beating of a lifetime from Cat, a woman desperate to stay hidden from the violence that colored her old abusive life. Hopeless shows readers how violence begets violence, regardless of the intentions behind the actions.
Watching the origins of Cat’s rage is heart wrenching and feels real; her husband is the right amount of awful and, though he’s a terror, she still stays resilient, able to stand up for herself until she’s beaten down. The mystery that has unfolded from Ben Urich’s original story file is not what he, Jessica or the Porcupine expected, and they’re forced to make a hard choice at the end. It’s a sign of maturity for Drew as she decides to keep the secrets of the town, even after being beaten senseless in their very streets. Rodriguez illustrates every clubbing blow with strong, brutal detail, splashed with blood soaked and rainbowed bruises from colorist Muntsa Vicente. What increases the impact of the violence in this story is that it happens in broad daylight, a metaphor for domestic abuse.
The creative team on this book found a groove quickly, establishing a tone of rebirth and hope. Jessica was off on her own, having just left the Avengers and needing to find out who she was without them. Ben Urich reveals that his motivation for reaching out to Spider-Woman in the first place was for rebirth and hope for his beloved newspaper. They wanted to remake themselves based on the foundation of who they had been before. Hopeless pushes this back on Jessica and forces her to question how much of her past life was informing the new life she was trying to build, much like the women blackmailing their husbands. It’s a layered story that Rodriguez gives the right amount of flair and gravitas. The entire visual team on this book should be lauded for delivering such an eye-catching story. The European influence is beautiful and the pages flow at a well-controlled pace. They interpret the script with an intuitive ease, adding the right amount of weight to a moment like Cat embracing the escape presented to her by her husband’s suit. Their fight choreography is lithe and powerful, and panels like Jessica’s arrival in Ben’s office are defining images of this run.
Hopeless has breathed new life in to the world of Jessica Drew. The status quo at the end of this arc is a pitch-perfect concept and a great way to give Jessica a new life while honoring her old one. Urich is a smart idea as a supporting cast member; the character’s higher profile in the “Daredevil” Netflix series and his ties to other famous “Spider” titles can point new readers towards this smart new direction. Rodriguez, Alvaro Lopez and Vicente give the book a confident visual style that fans of artists like Fiona Staples or Marcos Martin should love. Though the series has an uncertain future until Marvel unveils their post “Secret Wars” plans, it’s still a beautiful work of fiction that fans won’t want to miss.