Graphic Novel Review: Spider-Gwen: Weapon of Choice

Spider-Gwen: Weapon of Choice

Spider-Gwen: Weapon of Choice - Credit: Archant

Gwen’s life is turned upside down after the SPIDER-WOMEN event at the worst time ever as Captain Frank Castle is bearing down on her. Does she stand a chance against Castle’s punishment?

(Panini Books)

Ever come into a movie 10 minutes after the start, and then found yourself making leaps of logic to fill in missing holes in the plot? That’s pretty much the feeling you get reading this latest volume of Spider-Gwen, as it certainly doesn’t follow on from the previous collection.

In fact, the Gwen Stacy from Earth 65 enjoyed a crossover adventure with her fellow female arachnids in the Spider-Women epic, and reading that book is pretty much essential to understand what’s happening here. Unfortunately Panini haven’t collected the series as a UK graphic novel, so you’re going to have to look elsewhere to find it. Take your time and then get back to me.

Right. Done that? Good. Now we can continue.

So after clashing with the Earth 65 version of Cindy Moon, Gwen has lost her powers, and only a dose of a radioactive booster will restore them, albeit temporarily and then only for as long as she has a stash of these “power-ups”.

No longer able to depend on the abilities she had come to take for granted, she must make every power-up count, but she never expected to run up against the ruthless team-up of her father’s former partner, the obsessive Frank Castle, and the deadly Kraven the Hunter…

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Although based on Peter Parker’s girlfriend from the mainstream Marvel Universe, who had been dead since the early 1970s, this series has succeeded in carving out an identity of its own under the guiding hands of writer Jason Latour and artist Robbi Rodriguez, offering unusual twists on familiar Marvel characters and situations.

In spite of, or perhaps because of, these elements, it feels constantly fresh in a way many other superhero titles fail to achieve. Gwen comes across as a real person, despite her insane life as Spider-Woman, and you just can’t help rooting for her.

It’s a shame Marvel’s marketing strategy necessitated a crossover with other titles (and she’s due to encounter the Miles Morales Spider-Man soon too), as prior to that it was possible to enjoy Gwen’s adventures without immersing oneself in the wider Marvel Universe. Self-contained, continuity-light superhero books are thin on the ground from any publisher, let along those starring a feisty, independent, female protagonist, and this book is the perfect starting point for attracting new comics fans. Just leave her to do her thing and keep the crossovers to a minimum please Marvel!