"Spider-Woman" #5 drops a brand new storytelling style and status quo on Jessica Drew. Dennis Hopeless gives us a strong-willed and hard-headed Drew, showing us who she is when she isn't involved in large scale drama with the Avengers. Seeing this side of her is a revelation; though she's been an important part of the Marvel Universe since Brian Michal Bendis dusted her off several years ago, she has almost always been on the field of mortal superhero combat despite occasional appearances in "Captain Marvel" or "Hawkeye." Hopeless lets the reader into Drew's head, revealing a woman who wants a fresh start in her life. The changes aren't just cosmetic, though the new costume is a spectacular improvement and looks gorgeous in Javier Rodriguez and Alvaro Lopez's hands: Drew has stepped down from any superheroic responsibilities and wants to concentrate on having some street-level experiences for a while.
Hopeless deals with the theme of second chances in this issue and writes the character accordingly; as Jessica is hard-headed and slightly self-interested, she believes that -- since she is on the hunt for a second chance -- then so are the missing families of low-level villains throughout New York. It blinds her to the connections and, even with Ben Urich urging her to look deeper, the case almost flies right past her face. Drew is so desperate for the normalcy of a non-powered life that she assumes these women and children disappeared to stay away from that drama on purpose. Sometimes, it's hard to see past one's own nose, especially someone as stubborn as Jessica, and Hopeless captures that nicely.
Hopeless has a feel for the cast of this book and delivers a fun, self aware script. Even Jessica knows about the Spider-Woman butt controversy! She botches her first attempt at heroism in the book, another result of her myopic nature. This is a book where the hero will make mistakes and have to own up to them. It's realistic heroism, a storytelling trend that is nice to see Hopeless bringing back here.
Rodriguez and Lopez deliver a beautiful and innovative book full of grand page layouts and entertaining character designs. The big story here is the new costume and it's a knockout. It's functional while still appealing and sexy; nothing is sacrificed in making the costume seem more realistic, and now readers have a Spider-Woman that doesn't look like someone in a body stocking. The opening action is flawlessly choreographed, from the dramatic zipping of her motorcycle jacket to the full page splash of Jessica's reveal in a new iconic image. Though the remaining pages aren't as uniquely designed, the rest of the issue reads clearly and is full of appealing characters. This team has found its voice very quickly.
"Spider-Woman" #5 feels like the first issue of the series. Hopeless has reinvigorated the character in 20 pages with a new mission, a new outlook and a new cast. There is a conspiracy afoot involving low-level Marvel characters disappearing in this arc and, the last time Hopeless dealt with these themes in "Avengers Arena," he knocked them out of the park. This is an excellent debut by a stellar creative team and is more than worth the price of admission.