Deadshirt Is Reading… is a weekly feature in which Deadshirt’s staff, contributing writers, and friends-of-the-site offer their thoughts on Big Two cape titles, creator-owned books, webcomics and more.
Joe Stando is reading…
Written by Jason Latour
Art by Robbi Rodriguez and Rico Renzi (colors)
Lettered by Clayton Cowles
“Real people, real lives, are flawed. Sometimes they’re weak. Sometimes they’re wrong. Even the heroes.”
Spider-Gwen has a lot going for it. It’s a gorgeous, stylish book, with cool costume designs and frantic action sequences. It’s set in a universe that’s familiar but differs in interesting ways, like a cop Frank Castle and an evil Matt Murdock. But the key that brings me back, issue after issue, is how deftly the book combines superhero battles and personal drama and conflict, and this week had that quality in spades.
Latour, Rodriguez, and Renzi’s story is strikingly different from the Marvel universe we know, but it calls back to the kinds of stories that defined the very earliest Spider-Man comics: power, responsibility, and angst. Gwen’s career (aside from the various alternate reality jaunts) has primarily involved fighting with her former best friends and trying not to let people who depend on her down. She’s a capable hero, but still struggling with the weight and consequences of superheroics, and Green Goblin is that conflict incarnate. Rather than going with a stock insanity background, Spider-Gwen’s Harry Osborn willingly chose to become a government-backed Green Goblin out of the same guilt and sense of responsibility that drove Gwen to be Spider-Woman. He’s her mirror image, and the standard “I love you but I hate your alter ego” trope is much stronger given how close we’ve seen their bond is.
Spider-Gwen is still building out its world, with offhanded references to Janet Van Dyne and Tony Stark. I’m excited for those elements, and I’m excited for the upcoming crossover with other Spider-books, but this is a story that shines when it’s at its most intimate, and this issue, with its climactic battle between Gwen and Osborn, is among its best.
Thanks for reading about what we’re reading! We’ll be back next week with a slew of suggestions from across the comics spectrum. In the meantime, what are you reading? Tell us in the comments section, on Twitter or on our Facebook Page!