Review by Hailey Austin
Jason Latour and Robbi Rodriguez’s Spider-Gwen Vol. 1 follows Gwendolyn Stacy on Earth-65 after she has become Spider-Woman, picking up after Most Wanted?, and giving a more thorough background to Gwen’s character than its predecessor. The volume begins with a flashback to Gwen’s relationship with Peter Parker and his death, helping the reader become more acquainted with the characters and alternate universe, which Most Wanted? lacked. It includes more character development for Peter Parker as well as Harry Osborn, who in turn impact Gwen’s role as Spider-Woman. Jean DeWolff and Frank Castle are still on the hunt for Spider-Woman as they blame her for Peter’s death, while Matt Murdock also continues his hunt for Gwen’s father, George Stacy. The main conflict is the discovery of more Lizard creatures like the one Peter turned into before his death. Gwen begins to suspect her former high school teacher is responsible, but runs into problem after problem while tracking him down.
As seen in the previous volume, Rico Renzi’s amazing colouring makes this series stand out. Likewise, Gwen’s suit and colour palette are spot on. Rodriguez does a great job capturing Gwen’s complex movements, as well as creating detailed and exciting fight scenes. However, the switch to the more rugged style of Chris Visions for the fifth chapter does not go unnoticed. There are pages where it works, such as when the perspective shifts to the blind Matt Murdock and how he perceives the world, but that’s overshadowed, by panels in which Gwen’s face is nearly unrecognisable. It is not simply a style difference, but feels as if the drawing was rushed or just not properly edited. Luckily, the final chapter reverts back to Rodriguez’s strong art.
Latour makes a valiant attempt at creating a sort of “girl power” comic by combining Spider-Gwen with Earth-65’s African American females Captain America and Falcon, a kick-butt Agent Peggy Carter as head of S.H.I.E.L.D., and the pregnant Spider-Woman (Jessica Drew) from Earth-616. All these women are complex and ground breaking as characters in their own rights, yet hurriedly thrown together and forced to interact. Under a Spider-Gwen title, the reader should expect Spider-Gwen to take priority, and this volume doesn’t meet expectations. By including so many other strong female characters, Gwen’s personality and struggles are relegated to supporting roles.
Greater Power does have great colouring and some emotional moments between Gwen and Harry Osborn, but it forces too many interesting characters onto each page without letting them breathe and develop more naturally. Weapon of Choice follows.