Breakout characters can be rare in comics, but with a simple concept and a striking costume, “Edge of Spider-Verse’s” alternate universe Gwen Stacy is getting a chance to go solo.
At New York Comic Con, writer Jason Latour and artist Robbi Rodriguez — the creators behind the original one-shot story and upcoming ongoing title — talked to CBR TV about the surprising life of the character. Check out the video where the two compare Spider-Gwen to Internet favorites like the new “Batgirl” series and tease the dark mirror of a Marvel mainstay in his new series, and read on for highlights from their conversation.
On their recruitment to bring Spider-Gwen to “Edge of Spider-Verse”:
Jason Latour: “Nick Lowe, our editor, called me up to see if I had any time because he had these fun Spider-Man one-shots where you could pretty much create any kind of character you wanted to. And one of the ideas we kept coming back to involved Gwen Stacy. My initial reaction, being an old school nerd, was that you don’t touch Gwen Stacy. Gwen stays dead. But having gone through the experience of ‘The Winter Solider,’ [I reconsidered.]
“So I slept on it for a night, and then the next day I called him up and said, ‘I want that Gwen Stacy character. I have an idea for it. And if we do the Gwen Stacy book, I want Robbi involved.’ I instantaneously saw a different world for the character that was down a different avenue, and I felt like it needed Robbi and Rico [Renzi, our colorist] to tell it. I felt like the Rock N Roll aspect of the book would make it different, and you really need the right artist to make that work. There’s a fine line behind making it interesting and your dad’s sad old record collection.”
Robbi Rodriquez: “Then I think we both had this idea where it was going to be this Saturday morning flashback thing where you’d get the initial backstory there. And putting all the pieces together to make it readable was the biggest part. I’d text Jason when I’d be drawing at the bar and say, ‘I got it here,’ or, ‘I think I’m stuck at this part.’ I think it was just whenever I needed a second pair of eyes on something, and vice versa.”
On their long term plans for the ongoing series:
Latour: “I’m going to be sort of coy with it. Her relationships out of costume is what will drive the book, but the costime itself and actually becoming a superhero [is] especially [like] what we saw in the first issue. It’s a bunch of people trying to define what Spider-Woman is. The book itself is about how does Gwen try to define who she is, even in the mask.
“She’s coming out of this giant superhero war, and she’s been fighting alongside these Spider-Men and Spider-Women for the stakes of the multiverse or whatever. I think that’s what we’ll be jumping into when she gets back from that: How does that event drive her to be a better Spider-Woman? And how does she do that in a world where she’s being defined by other people constantly?”
“We’re going to see a lot of new twists on familiar faces. One that’s pretty obvious is that we’ve got evil Matt Murdock, which sounds so simple, but I get a lot of joy out of figuring out where that can go because I love ‘Born Again’ and Ann Nocenti’s ‘Daredevil.’ I love the idea of a Matt Murdock who has embraced the darker aspects of himself.”
On the design of Spider-Gwen’s costume:
Rodriguez: “It started out with me being lazy, because I knew I’d end up drawing it 20,000 times. But also part of me is, I’m a Toth kid. I want it to be so simple and tight. And instead of using the traditional spider-web symbol, I wanted to drop it as a design element right on top of Gwen. Immediately you just see her face and the hoodie… I knew I did not want to do Spider-Man colors at all.”
Latour: “That was the one thing where I said, ‘Robbie, are you sure it should be purple? Maybe we should make it red…’ Then he was like, ‘I told you it should be purple.’ [And he’s right] it really works… The only moment of prescience I had in coming up with the story is when I stepped back from the Gwen Stacy of it all and knew we had this amazing costume, I felt like people were going to react to that.”
On why this was the moment for Gwen Stacy to be embraced by fandom:
Latour: “To me, Gwen Stacy never had a story. By the time I came along, she had been replaced by Mary Jane. And when you step back from it and look at comics as a culture, it seems like Emma Stone and the reemergence of Gwen in other media had given people a connection to her again. And it felt like it was owed to the readership a moment where it’s just catharsis.”
Rodriguez: “Where it’s not just treated as a plot point.”
Latour: “Yeah. Where it’s not a ‘fridging.’ There needed to be a moment — even if it was just for one issue — where we get to see that character have some empowerment and break out of the borders of the page. [To be] a character that has a life. Like all superhero comics, one great thing they have as a genre is to have a character who can beat death. I felt like she was owed that moment.”
On whether they ever expected to get an ongoing series:
Latour: “I’m just one of these crazy people who has a million ideas, so I already had years of Spider-Gwen [stories.]
Rodriguez: “I just expected him to get hit by a bus thinking up new mutants.” [Laughter]
Latour: “I know how comics work. I know just because something has a fan reaction, it doesn’t mean the company’s going to get behind it. But we live in a real amazing publishing era where this kind of stuff does happen. In some way, this is a real unprecedented, ‘Rocky’ kind of story where the fans stood up and made something happen. It’s touching to me.”
Rodriguez: “It’s touching to me, too.”
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