As “Spider-Verse” marches on, we get a look into a hero from an alternate universe. An AMAZING hero from an AMAZING alternate universe. This is going to be a really positive review, you guys. Mild spoilers ahead!
Written by Jason Latour
Illustrated by Robbie Rodriguez
• In one universe, it wasn’t Peter Parker bitten by the radioactive Spider, but Gwen Stacy!
• She’s smart, charming and can lift a car– Just don’t tell her Police Chief father!
• How is she involved in Spider-Verse? Seeds of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #9 are planted here!
One of the reasons Spider-Man’s been such a consistently adored character is how the basic origin of who he is can be applied to anyone: freak accident, dead loved one imparting moral lesson, webs. And one of the more interesting aspects of the recent “Spider-Verse” storyline (and to a lesser extent “Superior Spider-Man”) is seeing how this origin adapts and changes based on who’s under the webbed mask. With “Edge of Spider-Verse” #2, Jason Latour and Robbie Rodriguez show us a timeline where Gwen Stacy was the one who learned about power and responsibility and they make it abundantly clear that we were robbed.
Granted, I want to make it clear upfront that there may be some bias here. I am a sucker for female teenage superheroes, riot grrl bands, and stories with fast-paced kinetic artwork that feels like nothing else being offered in comic books. In Spider-Gwen, Latour and Rodriguez deliver. This issue isn’t an origin story as much as it is a story in progress, a window into the timeline where Lee and Ditko made Stacy their hero instead of me Peter, and if Stacy was a punk-rocker in a band with Mary Jane while her father George Stacy, a police captain, goes after New York’s latest threat and menace – her.
The Gwen in “Edge” is remarkably different from the one we’ve seen lately. Granted, the only time we’ve really seen her in the past ten years in comics is that time she was getting impregnated by Norman Osborn– ..um. Anyway, just as Peter delved into a world of angst after being thrust into the world of super heroics, so has Gwen. There’s an interesting artistic choice done with both her design and Peter’s; while in the 616 reality, Gwen died young and never got the chance for too much development and Peter went on to become one of the more fleshed out characters Marvel had, here the roles are swapped and Gwen’s the one who outlived a rather static Peter who resembled his initial Ditko design.
And indeed, Gwen does move forward into the present day with what is undoubtedly one of the coolest Spidey costumes in recent memory. The white-hoodie outfit gives her a ghostly energy that grants her a different type of motion than Peter’s. I know I’ve been comparing Gwen to Peter a lot here, but going into this issue I was very worried that Peter would somehow take the spotlight or Gwen would just come off as a clone. At worst, I was expecting Gwen to break her neck so Peter could take over the Spider mantle in another reality. But nope, Latour and Rodriguez are dedicated to making sure Gwen Stacy functions flawless as her own hero rather than feeling like a carbon copy.
And really, that uniqueness can be felt in Gwen’s world. Old villains are present as slightly new villains, old allies as definitely new villains, and there’s an undeniable sense of a greater world beyond what we’re seeing with Gwen. We don’t get to see too much of it, but what we see of Gwen is definitely thrilling enough. Rodriguez’s electric art does not let up as Gwen swings from the rooftops or punches down bad guys. There’s even a great use of sound effects that helps illustrate just when Stacy goes from pelting bad guys to full on knocking them out. “Edge of Spider-Verse” #2 isn’t all flash though, as Rodriguez excels at expressing emotions as we get into the head of angry drummer Gwen. There’s also an excellent use of colors from Rico Renzi who really makes this series come alive, and with Clayton Cowles’ grungy lettering, the artistic team comes together to create a vivid comic that’s basically Spider-Man meets Scott Pilgrim.Continued below
If there’s one thing that’s upsetting about “Edge of Spider-Verse” #2, it’s how much of a tease it is. For one issue we’re given a window into a world we’re not likely to see much more of. Sure, Gwen is going to show up in “Spider-Verse” but that’s just not enough. Latour, Rodriguez, Renzi, and Cowles have done a masterful job of crafting a world readers should want to dive into. I guess we can only hope to see more of it.
This might sound desperate, but please just buy it. If this issue is any indication, Spider-Gwen is the type of title that could work tremendously as a spin-off series. I was excited for “Spider-Verse” before with characters like Tokusatsu Spider-Man and (hopefully) Italian Spider-Man but Spider-Gwen has hyped me onto a new level entirely. If “Spider-Verse” is going to be more of this, then it might just be an instant classic of a Spider story. And I’d loved for “Spider-Gwen” to be one too.
Final Verdict: 9.1 – Damn me if this wasn’t one of the coolest comics of the week.