Okay, we’re back with another review!
This week, we’re going mainstream Marvel, and I’m going to go over Spider-Gwen #1. We have Jason Latour writing, Robbi Rodriguez on art duties, Rico Renzi on colors, and Clayton Cowles on letters. Even though Nick Lowe is the editor, he’s not the direct editor on this. The direct editor is Devin Lewis, who’s listed as the Assistant Editor.
Yes, I’m going to remind you every time that the books are ranked according to Prince songs. When Doves Cry means don’t buy the book, Beautiful Strange means you can take it or leave it, and Adore means buy the book.
We all set? Let’s hit it!
This is the first issue. I didn’t read the Spider-verse storyline this spun out of. Here’s what I know, and all you need to know in order to jump on the book: Peter Parker’s origin story is basically what happens to Gwen Stacy, but in another universe. Her first opponent is the Vulture. That’s all the setup you really need.
Right off the bat, I’m going to say I’m not a fan of a lot of things with this book. The biggest thing I’m not a fan of is the writing. Gwen sounds like she’s written by a guy—but a guy who doesn’t know what a teenaged/young woman sounds like. Some of the jokes and responses and things just don’t sound female, and I think that hurts the book’s overall tone.
No, I don’t think that women should only be written by women, or anything so sexist. I believe that if you’re going to write a woman, then you should at least try to do so in a female voice. There’s no female voice here.
Perfect example: Spider-Gwen goes to the Vulture’s apartment to investigate. It’s trashed: garbage is everywhere, tons of paper on the walls, whatever. It’s like a filth-bomb had gone off in there. Know what Gwen says? Not a single thing. Most people would say something about the mess. I believe most women would be appalled and disgusted at the mess. She doesn’t say anything. It just strikes me as unrealistic. And there are different points in the entire story that just does that. (Girls making butt jokes, and it’s not about another girl? Not feeling it.)
Now, there are some different takes on some old friends. Mary Jane is there, the front-person of a band, The Mary Janes (of which Gwen was the drummer). Robbie Robertson is there as a music reporter, Jameson is still at the Bugle, it seems… Familiar, but different. And the story is simple enough, and ends on a cliffhanger, as it should.
I don’t have much to say about the art. I’m not the biggest fan of the costume—the eyes around the mask are airbrushed in order to make the eyes pop, and there are webs inside the hood, but the overall design itself is unique and striking. The art isn’t overly complicated. Not too simplistic, but there are times when it can be, to the detriment of the book.
The colors match the art very well. I’m not happy with the pink/purple overtones on much of it, though. It makes things look like there’s only one-note, and that’s not attractive. Does it need to be vibrant? No. But there should be a larger palette in order to make things pop. Nothing pops, despite the fact that Gwen’s costume has a lot of white in it. When a white costume doesn’t pop and there isn’t a lot of white on the page, there’s a problem.
I’m also not a fan of the letterer. The font picked isn’t as easy to read as it could be, because sometimes the P can look like a D because the stem isn’t very long. And the tails of the word balloons were killing me because they don’t come to points, they’re like clubs. Clubs generally pointed to a person, and not always necessarily pointed toward a mouth. I really, really didn’t like the tails.
Personally, I think the editor fell down, failing the writer and the letterer by letting them get away with some things. The story is fine, but the execution could use some tightening up. It’s a just a lot of little things that add up.
I could have enjoyed the book a lot more, had half the opportunities to tighten up been taken.
Verdict: Beautiful Strange.