Review by Ian Keogh
There’s an almost immediate reflection of the Back to Basics title as Spider-Woman’s original costume is restored. However Karla Pacheco goes deeper than that by introducing the type of goofy villains Spider-Woman chanced across back in the early 1980s. Los Espadas Gemelas (the twin swords) have a daft identity, but also a heritage and a cause, and they’re far more troublesome than might be presumed on first seeing them. Pacheco fudges by passing on information via villainous monologue
Until now it’s been the case that Pere Pérez has been a solid artist delivering all that’s necessary, but only standing out via his page designs. That’s beginning to change in Back to Basics. Pacheco contrives to have Spider-Woman battling in several confined environments, and Pérez supplies better choreographed than previously, and his page designs continue to be innovative. He favours sloping diagonal panels, which sit well as a design element when swords are featured, and will frequently arrange his storytelling into panels separated by thin lines forming a spider or web motif. He shines on a chapter that’s just one long chase scene with the threats continually escalating, but neither Pérez, nor Pacheco for that matter, are strong on subtlety. The early chapters build toward a big emotional moment and it’s totally oversold.
Pacheco sidelined Jess being the mother of an infant over the previous two volumes, although the child as an abstract became increasing motivation during King in Black, but here we’re back to having to combine motherhood and crimefighting, which is incompatible. Pacheco considers another character from Spider-Woman’s recent past as a waste of space, so they’re unceremoniously disposed of, but such clumsiness can blur how good she is at raising opposing ethical views. Questioning if Jess’ view is the right one has been a feature. Also good is the way Pacheco will have readers believe certain people are done with, yet actually they’re not, and that plays out fascinatingly here. From the start Pacheco has extrapolated the possibilities of Spider-Woman’s origin, and one small tug on that string has led to an unholy mess, but one that’s engagingly resolved before we head into Devil’s Reign.