If Marvel was hoping to pitch Edge of Spider-Verse #2 as a pilot for solo Gwen Stacy-as-Spider-Woman/but also she’s in a girl band with Mary Jane comic, then, well… mission accomplished.
Aided by the kinetic, clean-lined artwork of Robbi Rodriguez, writer Jason Latour introduces Gwen as Spidey in a universe where Peter Parker’s doomed girlfriend is the one bitten by the radioactive spider. Introduced in a quick two-page spread, we learn that the white and black-clad Spider-Woman is being hunted by the NYPD for the death of Peter Parker, who hulked out as this universe’s lizard while trying to give himself super powers.
It’s the little details which make this Spider-Woman’s introduction work so well: from the hooded costume which stands out against the nighttime backdrops, to its ripped-from-Batgirl Captain George Stacy/Gwen dynamic (which gets sewn up a tad too neatly here), to the Parker luck, which is gifted to poor can’t catch a break Gwen making a mess of both her superhero and personal life. It’s not world-beating comics, but in just a few pages, Latour and Rodriguez get at the heart of the Marvel style of conflicted, but ultimately decent heroes that the publisher built its line with.
Latour captures the voice of Gwen, here a somewhat aimless young adult still carrying the guilt of her best friend’s death while Rodriguez gets to tweak some Earth-616/mainstream Marvel Universe conceits like the look and designs of both the lizard and the Rhino (imagined here as a tattooed, blue thug under the employ of the Kingpin and his dirty lawyer). Latour’s script is at its most effective when it hints at the edges of other stories, like the idea that Kingpin is somehow trying to set up an alliance with Spider-Woman (in the most brutal way possible).
I am curious what fans of Mary Jane will think of the character here – she’s brittle in a way that her Earth-616 counterpart isn’t, but it matches the would-be rock star mold Latour puts her in here.
Rodriguez’s art and fluid style put me in the mind of the work of Emma Rios (Doctor Strange), framing band The Mary Janes with a shock of electric text or letting Spider-Woman pound out a brutal drumbeat on the Rhino’s chest and face. Rico Renzi’s neon-lit colors are the other superstar here, illuminating the nighttime action with bursts of pop art vibrancy.
Marvel promises that we’ll see Gwen Stacy/Spider-Woman again in Amazing Spider-Man #9 – if she sticks around after that, you won’t find me complaining.