Let’s be up front: Spider-Gwen #2 is good. Better than good. Right now, the creative team behind Marvel’s flashiest new Spider-character is building her world and showing it off to us. They’re setting up big things and bigger players (looking at you, Kingpin). That means this issue’s job is to build up the threats against Gwenzelle. And they are plenty. Let’s run through them real quick:
—Kingpin with an evil-Matt Murdock (missing an evil goatee)
—The NYPD & an always-punishing-no-matter-what-Marvel-Universe-it-is Frank Castle
—Head trauma, complete with a hallucination of everyone’s favorite Spider-Ham and either a great or terrible choice in sweatshirt.
And we’re just 2 issues in! Jason Latour and co. will not be going easy on Miss Stacy, but they aren’t sacrificing the light-hearted nature of Spider-books throughout the decades. The fun all involved are clearly having creating Spider-Gwen and her world is evident—they’re twisting around characters we’ve come to know and love (Daredevil, Frank Castle, even the deceased Captain Stacy and Jean DeWolff) to give us one massive “What If?” on-going, and that’s meant in the best way possible. Those books were (occasionally) great for throwing away everything we knew about characters, motivations, and dynamics. Spider-Gwen has the benefit of an audience that (likely) has a long-standing relationship with nearly every character we’re re-meeting but is reintroducing them as fresh, new faces in Gwen’s life.
Every panel in this book pops. Every one. The colors just don’t stop. Whether Vulture’s being interrogated, Castle and Captain Stacy “share” a drink, or Gwen’s experiencing nausea, the colors bring this book to life the way hearing John Williams’ opening theme for Star Wars brings those classic crawls to life. Latour and Robbi Rodriguez could not be working with a better color artist than Rico Renzi (if you aren’t checking out his site, do it: http://nolongermint.com). Vulture’s interrogation in particular stood out as an excellent show of everyone’s abilities, from the reflection of Vulture in Murdock’s glasses to Murdock’s POV.
—Here’s hoping for a battle of the bands: The Mary Janes VS Felicia Hardy + the Black Cats.
—Earth-65’s Frank Castle seems even angrier, probably because he isn’t out killing everyone he hates.
—If Spider-Ham isn’t getting his own book, we’ll have to settle for more hallucination-induced cameos.
—Detective Jean DeWolff shows up in Earth-65. Her 616 counterpart was killed by Sin-Eater, but her Ultimate Universe counterpart was shot and killed by none other than Frank Castle.