Written by Dennis Hopeless and drawn by Greg Land with inks from Jay Leisten, “Spider-Woman” #1 is less the stunning debut of a smash-hit new series featuring yet another remarkable Marvel super-heroine and more an event tie-in with dubious reason for existence post-event. That reason is called into question as the apparent purpose Spider-Woman serves throughout “Spider-Woman” #1 is challenged three-quarters through the issue.
Hopeless hints at a new calling for Spider-Woman, but does not have the time or space to deliver, as “Spider-Verse” hijacks any substantial developments of this character or her world. As a stand-alone, single-issue tie-in, this is a fun enough read, but as an inaugural offering for a new series, “Spider-Woman” #1 spends too much time not on Spider-Woman. Hopeless gives readers plenty of action and sews in some perilous situations, but all of it is “Spider-Verse” centered. Additionally, Silk, who is on deck for a series of her own, drives the direction of this first issue, giving readers plenty of panel time and insight, but at Spider-Woman’s expense.
The art, as expected from Greg Land, is a mixed bag of sharp images and head scratching drawings where anatomy and perspective seem optional. For the latter, take a look at any of the panels where a female character is leaping into action or out of harm’s way. The form is right, but the particulars just look scrunched, definitely off-model from the idealized, photo-referenced characters Land fills the book with otherwise. Land’s artwork, while appearing clean and crisp on the surface, throw the story off kilter more than once. Spider-Man makes reference to a chandelier, but is surrounded by liquor bottles. The conflict with the Inheritors has murky storytelling that leaves the extent of Spider-Man Noir’s injuries undefined. The storytelling is not limited to the interiors, however, as it appears Silk is fastball-specialing Jessica Drew on the cover.
While some character poses and expressions are incongruous to the story around them, Land adds in plenty of carefully constructed background imagery to ground some figures who seem to float. Leisten’s inks are crisp and cling true to Land’s lines, adding subtleties in texture and depth throughout “Spider-Woman” #1. Frank D’Armata’s colors add a nice sheen to the book, and the mix of characters present keeps this comic from soaking in reds, blues, but does play up the “Spider-Verse” purples, like the main storyline in “Amazing Spider-Man” #10. When the story shifts to Earth-90214, the palette slips into sepia-tinged hues as well. Letterer Travis Lanham has his work cut out for him in this adventure that is filled with bustling dialog and numerous characters. The conflicts in this comic book lend themselves to traditional sound effects, and Lanham delivers.
It is unfortunate that Jessica Drew takes a backseat in the debut issue of her own title, which is split between serving as a release valve for subplots from “Spider-Verse” and a prequel tale for the upcoming “Silk” series. “Spider-Woman” #1 fails to impress, but offers glimmers that Hopeless might be able to write a Jessica Drew worth reading. She just needs to get out of “Spider-Verse” first.