Spider-Gwen is a character that I did not expect much from when she was first announced. I thought she was merely a gimmick, but I happily admit that I was wrong. Spider-Gwen #25 shows that this alternate universe Gwen Stacey is more than a plot device, but a true hero with a very interesting world and backstory.
The current storyline by Jason Latour finds Gwen on her world and up to her webbed elbows in trouble. She is on the run, being hunted by the police, and seeking vengeance for the brutal beating her father took at the hands of the Rhino. The Rhino had been placed in the same cell as Gwen’s father, at the arrangement of Matt Murdock, and beat him nearly to death in order to keep him quiet.
This is not the only problem Gwen has to deal with as in order to regain her powers to avenge her father she made a deal with Matt Murdock, who in her world is a corrupt lawyer working for the Kingpin, and was bonded to the Venom symbiote. So now we have Gwenom prowling the streets and Gwen has an increasingly harder time keeping Venom in check. Gwen herself realizes her struggle for control and knows she must find a way to be free of Venom.
The classic Spidey supporting cast are all there and though recognizable they are very different from their Earth 616 counterparts. The familiar, but different, versions of people such as Harry Osborn and Mary Jane Watson add depth and a connection to classic Spidey while remaining free from the continuity of Earth 616 and allowing them to organically change and be fresh interpretations.
The interior art as well as the cover were supplied by the talented Robbi Rodriguez who created a dynamic world and some very interesting character design. I am particularly fond of this world’s Rhino, who rather than sport a grey rhino themed costume is instead named for his hairstyle.
The book has a unique look and while a lot of the credit for that goes to Rodriguez a good bit of it has to go to Rico Renzi’s colors. The mood and tone are set by the color palettes used for each scene. They make each place feel different and part of a larger world.
For new fans just jumping on we are treated to a backup story written by Robbie Thompson which tells the origin of Spider-Gwen. As a bonus one of my favorite Spidey art teams did the art honors. Mark Bagley’s pencils always hit the mark for me in a spider book and the inks of John Dell compliment and enhance the art and really knocks it out of the park.
I find the Peter Parker of that world to be a very interesting character as he became a very classic villain with a classic villain origin and it did not feel out of character or forced at all, but natural. This is in line with a theory I had that if Uncle Ben had not died and Peter had never learned the lesson of power and responsibility his death imparted to him he would have most likely gone the villain route himself eventually.
For someone like me who is tired of characters who are based on other characters or proven formulas Spider-Gwen was a refreshing change of pace. What we are given is not merely another spider character, but a solid well-rounded character with a complex and interesting background. Looks like I’ll be stuck in this web for the long haul.
Overall Rating: 4
STORY BY Jason Latour
ART BY Robbi Rodriguez
COLORS BY Rico Renzi