"Spider-Gwen" #1 -- Most Wanted, Part 1 (7 out of 10) -- Marvel Comics; Written by Jason Latour ("Wolverine and the X-Men"); Drawn by Robbi Rodriguez ("FBP: Federal Bureau of Physics"); Colors by Rico Renzi ("Sundowners"); Lettering by Clayton Cowles (all the comics); In Stores 2/25/2015.
Sometimes fans create a movement so strong that The Man (or in this case Marvel Comics) has no choice but to follow through with the demands. When Dan Slott came up with the idea of an alternate version of Spider-Man, one where Gwen Stacey was bitten by the radioactive spider, and when Jason Latour and Robbi Rodriguez brought this Spider-Gwen to life, it wasn't intended to go further than the Spider-Verse story arc. However, as editor Nick Lowe writes in the last page of "Spider-Gwen" #1, "But most of all, you, the fans... sent this team and character into the stratosphere... this series is launching in a huge way and should be around for a long time to come."
If you were one of the many to pick a copy of "Edge of Spider-Verse" #2 (a fifth printing will be available 3/25/2015), then the transition into "Spider-Gwen" will be a flawless one. For those of you who didn't catch the debut of Spider-Gwen, you'll survive the issue.
"Spider-Gwen" #1 begins with Gwen Stacy trying to find her place in the world after recently returning from fighting a war for the fate of all reality (i.e. Spider-Verse), while acknowledging the lingering fog of problems from the devastating events that took place in EOSV #2. In classic Marvel fashion, the first page of the issue recaps what took place in Spider-Gwen's debut appearance. The synopsis is sufficient to enjoy the issue, however there are holes that are left for the reader to infer while consuming the story.
Albeit redundant to reiterate, key to understanding this first issue, is to remember that the story takes place in an alternate Marvel reality than that of the classic Peter Parker Spider-Man of popular culture. This is a reality where Ben Grimm is a street cop and not The Thing. It's a reality where Frank Castle is a captain on the police force and not a raving mad Punisher (or is he...). The list of altered characters goes on and on.
Writer Jason Latour is quickly becoming one of the best young-hero story tellers in the Marvel bull pen. His work on "Wolverine and the X-Men" has him well-prepared to tell the drama-rich arc that is unfolding between Gwen Stacy and her (ex)band mates in The Mary Janes. This is a great throwback to the Stan Lee classic "Amazing Spider-Man" series. Like the early Spidey issues, "Spider-Gwen" has equal parts action and crime fighting to young-adult drama.
The Robbi Rodriguez / Rico Renzi art team has been proven successful in the pages of DC's " FBP: Federal Bureau of Physics," and the art in "Spider-Gwen" feels as unified as if it were a single artists shouldering the whole work. The characters in the comic have an animated look not so different from that of "Amazing Spider-Man" artist Humberto Ramos.
As the creative team is playing in an alternate reality of the Marvel Universe, this has afforded them to explore different takes on classic characters. Their version of The Vulture -- Spider-Gwen's big villain for this first issue -- is as equally fun as he is frightening. Though the character design that has resonated the most with fans is without a doubt the Spider-Woman costume (she can't be known as Spider-Gwen to the public; secret identity much?).
Gwen's spider costume is the same as was used in EOSV #2. Perhaps the popularity of this new character is directly linked to the costume. Editor Nick Lowe writes in the back of the issue, "You [the fans] drew your own fan art versions of her costume... you constructed your own Spider-Gwen costumes and cosplayed them..." A quick Google search will take you to the many posts all over Tumblr proving Lowe right.
"Spider-Gwen" #1 earns a 7 out of 10. The story is fluid and strong. The art is fun and as animated as the characters. The biggest problem with this first issue are the lingering effects from "Edge of Spider-Verse" #2, which jars a reader who is blind to the Spider-Verse story. Couple this issue with Spider-Gwen's debut and you've got a solid 10.
Trent Hunsaker is a podcaster and popculturalist. Podcasting for Kevin Smith's SModcast Internet Radio and the A Part of Him Podcast Network, he also operates Death Ray Comics, sweats, and reads comics – but mostly just sweats.