Comic Review: Spider-Gwen, Vol. 6: Life of Gwen Stacy

Published: September 19th, 2018
Written by: Jason Latour
Art by: Robbi Rodriguez

Marvel Comics, 111 Pages

Review:

I wasn’t too enthused going into this but I’ve gotten this far and this is the last chapter in the Spider-Gwen saga.

This series started out really good, I liked it, I was engaged by it and even if I didn’t like some of the alternate dimensional weirdness I really liked this Gwen Stacy and her story.

The fifth volume really took the wind out of the series’ sails though. This went for a Venom story because you can’t have a Spider-Person comic go on for too long and not have that obligatory Venom story. Well, that story didn’t end and it carries over into this final chapter.

But then there is even more alternate dimensional weirdness. And then things get so convoluted and reality skews so much that it’s hard to follow and a massive clusterfuck. This gave me a headache and it was really tough to get through even though it was fairly short at 111 pages.

I just finished reading this and I don’t even remember what happened other than timey wimey bullshit, multiple Gwens, Gwen going to prison, cameos out the ass and more confusion.

Also, I don’t know if Robbi Rodriguez stopped giving a shit but the art is worse than it was at the beginning of the series: significantly worse. I don’t know if he was rushed, trying to experiment or was just too busy sending pictures of his asshole out to people’s Twitter timelines.

I don’t know what this was. It ended this fun voyage like the iceberg that murdered the Titanic. And frankly, I don’t give a shit about this character anymore, even though I really dug her for the first three or four volumes.

Gwen has gone on to have a new series called Ghost Spider but I don’t even want to read it, even though its done by a new creative team.

Rating: 4.25/10
Pairs well with: Other Spider-Gwen collections.

Comic Review: Spider-Gwen, Vol. 5: Gwenom

Published: April 18th, 2018
Written by: Jason Latour
Art by: Robbi Rodriguez, Khary Randolph (covers)

Marvel Comics, 136 Pages

Review:

I think that I took too long of a break between reading volume 4 and volume 5 of Spider-Gwen. Reason being, this felt like the title had run out of steam. Maybe that’s because it did run out of steam by this point but it could be my own fault for lacking the enthusiasm I had for this series before I took a long break.

This just didn’t hit the right notes for me but that also probably has a lot to do with this being just another story of a Spidercharacter becoming Venom. Marvel has done this to death. Apart from the original Spider-Man titles, we got to see this with Miles Morales and Otto Octavius, both fairly recently.

I’m not saying that the Gwen Stacy version of Spider-Woman shouldn’t have a Venom story but this felt forced and like the writer was pushed into this by Marvel or because this series has now be rolling for a couple years and its hard to not become formulaic. It’s almost as if a Venom story was expected.

But just because something worked a few times, doesn’t mean that it will keep working. Also, it doesn’t mean that you can’t veer away from it and do your own thing. In fact, it’s much better to do your own thing and to explore new ideas with new characters, as opposed to rehashing some tired ass shit most Spider-fans have lived through multiple times.

I’m also just getting tired of this alternate universe. I kind of like the evil Daredevil thing but it’s also become a bit tiresome, as has this version of the Punisher and just about everyone else. It’s like the comic had some good ideas for twists on these characters but there wasn’t much else there beyond those twists.

This story arc also wedges in so many characters that it feels like a mess. I’m not even sure why some of them were there other than to have cameos galore in an effort to show how different this alternate reality is. But if you haven’t already done that by volume 5, hell, by volume 2, then maybe this series doesn’t deserve to continue.

I love Gwen Stacy and I really like this take on her character but she’s got to find a purpose for existing other than just being a cool idea and a really cool costume. And I feel like that’s all that she is now.

Rating: 5.75/10
Pairs well with: Other Spider-Gwen collections.

Comic Review: Spider-Gwen, Vol. 4: Predators

Published: October 31st, 2017
Written by: Jason Latour
Art by: Robbi Rodriguez

Marvel Comics, 112 Pages

Review:

Finally, a series of Spider-Gwen comics that are action packed and back on track! The last collection was full of holiday one-off issues and a lot of filler. Now we are back in the thick of it!

This collection brings back Harry Osborne, who is still infected by the Lizard syrum. His father Norman also plays a key role here, after refusing to help his son previously. We also see this universe’s evil version of Matt Murdock finally push Gwen Stacy into an uncomfortable direction, as she is forced to work with The Hand in an effort to capture her friend Harry.

We also get to see Spider-Gwen do battle with Wolverine, the original one, as well as this universe’s version of Shadowcat, who is more like X-23 than the Kitty Pryde we all know and love. Rhino also returns and we get to see the first appearance of the Venom symbiote but in the Spider-Gwen universe, it has a different origin.

At first, Spider-Gwen has to protect Harry from Wolverine, Shadowcat and The Hand but she eventually defies Matt Murdock and is able to turn Shadowcat and then Wolverine into allies against The Hand. All the while, she is mulling over the idea of whether or not she should become one with the Venom symbiote, as her exposure to radiation makes it “safe” for her to use, where it is lethal to any other living mammal.

The book benefits from not having Gwen go all emo, as she seems to do a lot in the earlier collections. She just jumps into the action, which there is a lot of and things don’t really ease up until the final chapter in the book, which is a side story about the Mary Janes band.

In fact, the only real negative is the Mary Janes story. Not that I don’t like their part in the Spider-Gwen universe but in this collection, it pulls you out of the running narrative and doesn’t allow this series of issues to feel like it has any sort of conclusion.

But I do like this much better than the previous set of stories and I’ll pick up the next collection when it is available.

Rating: 8.25/10
Pairs well with: Other Spider-Gwen collections.

Comic Review: Spider-Gwen, Vol. 3: Long-Distance

Published: July 3rd, 2017
Written by: Jason Latour
Art by: Robbi Rodriguez

Marvel Comics, 112 Pages

Review:

This collection of Spider-Gwen starts off with a Thanksgiving issue that is more of a distraction than anything. But at least we get a visit from the Jessica Drew Spider-Woman and the Roger Gocking version of Porcupine, who is her baby’s nanny now.

Following the Thanksgiving issue, we go into a Christmas issue. This series really likes doing holiday themed stories, as these both follow the Halloween issue that capped off the last collection of Spider-Gwen.

Luckily, we didn’t get a New Year’s, Valentine’s or St. Patty’s issue. But what we did get is odd and bizarre one-off stories that didn’t really push the overall narrative of the series forward.

On the plus side, we didn’t get more whiney Emo-Gwen brooding. We got some humor, some parody and a general lightheartedness. However, I feel like I could have skipped this book entirely and not missed a thing.

With this collection, I feel like the writers ran out of ideas for this series that started out pretty darn strong. It reads more like comedy than anything else and with all that has been established before this, there is a lot of ground that can be covered.

Gwen also still doesn’t have her powers at the beginning of this. She has a limited amount of “power-ups” she can use to become Spider-Gwen and really this is being written more like a video game where things like power-ups need to be explained but I guess that’s cool for the Millennial generation, as is the emo brooding heroine.

I liked Spider-Gwen but if I was reading the series, issue to issue and not collected, I probably would have checked out over this stretch, as it feels like it’s just aimless and throwing shit up on the wall. I’ll at least check out the next volume and see if it gets back on track but this was where my interest really started to wane.

This book has a lot of cameos though, so if you’re a fan of team ups and cameos, you’ll probably dig some of this.

Rating: 6.5/10
Pairs well with: Other Spider-Gwen collections.

Comic Review: Spider-Gwen, Vol. 2: Weapon of Choice

Published: January 3rd, 2017
Written by: Jason Latour
Art by: Robbi Rodriguez

Marvel Comics, 112 Pages

Review:

I’ve been flying through these Spider-Gwen books but I can’t help myself because I’m in love with this series.

However, this one regressed the character of Gwen after she seemed to reach a breakthrough in regards to her emo slump after the death of Peter Parker.

When she fought Harry Osborne in the book before this one, she seemed to reach some closure. But once this chapter in the series picks up, she’s back to being Queen Emo Gwen. While I understand her emotional stress, by this point, it’s really pushing this series down into the muck and holding it back from progressing. At this point, as a reader, I’m just about over it as much as her band mates in The Mary Janes.

That being said, apart from that aspect of the story, this chapter was still quite enjoyable. However, it did seem to be less cohesive than the previous two collections. But I also felt like it had a much needed slower pace after the two volumes that preceded it.

Still, a lot does happen and there are tussles with the debuting Kraven and an amusing Mysterio story. We also get out first look at Fantastic Four characters in this universe or at least, the first time I’ve encountered them.

Frank Castle returns to his evil Punisher ways and gets much closer to ruining Gwen’s life. However, his actions work against him and his obsession is made much more apparent to his colleagues and friends.

We also get more of this universe’s evil Matt Murdock and the groundwork is set for Spider-Gwen being much more involved with the Kingpin and his organization. Really, there’s just a lot of stuff established in this volume that should lead to some solid things the series can explore going forward.

This is still a pretty good collection, even if it gets held back by Gwen’s emotions and apprehension.

Rating: 7.5/10
Pairs well with: The other Spider-Gwen collections.

Comic Review: Spider-Gwen, Vol. 1: Greater Power

Published: May 24th, 2016
Written by: Jason Latour
Art by: Robbi Rodriguez

Marvel Comics, 136 Pages

Review:

This seemingly picks up after Spider-Gwen. Vol. 0: Most Wanted? Like it’s numerical predecessor, it features some stellar art, great character development and a lot of interesting twists to the Marvel Universe, at least how it exists in the small pocket that is Spider-Gwen’s version of Earth.

This volume is also packed with a lot of other characters. We get the debut of Green Goblin, as Harry Osborne is hella pissed over the death of Peter Parker, whom he deems Spider-Woman (a.k.a. Spider-Gwen) responsible for.

We also get to see more of this universe’s versions of Daredevil and the Punisher. We meet a very different Captain America and get to see Gwen interact with the other Spider-Woman, Jessica Drew. Plus, we learn a lot more about the world Spider-Gwen lives in, the Lizard problem, as well as S.H.I.E.L.D. and S.I.L.K.’s hands in all of it.

The only real downside is we don’t get to see Gwen interact with Spider-Ham like in Most Wanted? Sure, he was a figment of her imagination in that story arc but I loved the camaraderie between the two.

Where Most Wanted? dealt a lot with Gwen’s guilt over Peter Parker’s death, her battle with the Green Goblin here, helps her to see things differently and to start to make peace with that earlier tragedy. It also drives her towards trying to save Osborne from himself and his delusions. We also get to see what happens when you mix the Green Goblin with the Lizard’s mutagen. Just sayin’, who wouldn’t want to see the results of that?

A lot happens in this book and the characters develop and change quite a bit from beginning to end. We get to see a new side to George Stacy, Gwen’s father and the cop originally leading the manhunt for Spider-Woman. We also see how evil Daredevil is in this universe and have some clues dropped about Tony Stark and who he is in Spider-Gwen’s realm.

I’m digging this series a hell of a lot and frankly, I’m ready to jump right into the next volume.

Rating: 8/10
Pairs well with: The other Spider-Gwen collections.

Comic Review: Spider-Gwen, Vol. 0: Most Wanted?

Published: November 17th, 2015
Written by: Jason Latour
Art by: Robbi Rodriguez

Marvel Comics, 112 Pages

Review:

I have wanted to read Spider-Gwen for a long time now. I’ve actually owned her action figure for awhile, as I was a big fan of the costume and always loved Gwen Stacy and just the idea of her becoming a Spider-hero was pretty intriguing.

I picked up this volume before reading volume one, as zero is before one but this isn’t an origin story and Gwen is already Spider-Woman. So, until I read volume one after this, I’m not sure if these are numbered chronologically or not.

Anyway, I dig Spider-Gwen a lot.

The story takes place in an alternate universe in the massive Marvel multiverse where each dimension is different in someway. In Spider-Gwen’s universe, she was bit by the radioactive spider instead of Peter Parker. Thus, she inherited all the powers that went to Parker in the universe we are most familiar with. Also, Peter becomes the Lizard but that story isn’t in this volume. Although, this deals with some of the emotional aftereffects of Gwen having to take Peter down.

We also see Matt Murdock, the Daredevil, and Frank Castle, the Punisher. In this dimension, both men are very different. In fact, they are both bad guys, as far as I can tell with Murdock working for the Kingpin and Castle being a hard nosed, ignore the book, type of cop. The Punisher is a brutal vigilante except he still has his badge.

The one thing I love about this series is the art. It’s beautiful and enchanting in the best way possible. It has a feminine feel to it, which works for a female hero, yet it still has a grittiness. The costume design is friggin’ fantastic, the use of colors is superb and this is an incredible looking comic of the highest caliber. Kudos to Robbi Rodriguez for his art and Rico Renzi for his colors.

The story is also great and if it wasn’t, I couldn’t stick with a series despite how good the art is. Spider-Gwen is written by Jason Latour, who co-created the series with Rodriguez. Latour has written stories for Wolverine, Punisher, Winter Solider and done art for a myriad of titles throughout the years, going back to his work at Image on The Expatriate with B. Clay Moore, a guy who made one of my favorite series, Hawaiian Dick.

This volume sets the stage for what’s to come and although it doesn’t feature the real origin of the character, I felt like I had a good grasp on everything. I wish I was able to read about Spider-Gwen fighting Peter Parker as the Lizard but I’ll have to find that story elsewhere, I guess.

Rating: 8/10
Pairs well with: The other Spider-Gwen collections.