Spider-Gwen Week: Why Spider-Gwen Is Important

Spider-Gwen Kris Anka

Kris Anka

Gwen Stacy is a big deal.

There’s no need for “kind of” or any other caveats. It’s just a fact. Following that logic, if Gwen Stacy is a big deal, then Spider-Gwen is pretty damn important.

For many out there, that last part is kind of just implicitly accepted. After all, insane sales and vocal clamoring by fans all over the internet led to a character that was just supposed to be part of the overall lead-up to the massive Spiderfest that was Spider-Verse. She was just supposed to be another ‘what if?’ realized in universes that weren’t 616 or Ultimate-verse. Nothing more. Now look at her.

For the non-believers, the on-the-fencers, and the somewhat confused, I’ll try to explain what all the fuss is about. Why Spider-Gwen’s important in a world full of “original” superheroes and old standards.

If you’re passingly familiar with Spider-Man, then chances are that you’ve probably heard of Gwen Stacy.  She’s appeared in most adaptations in some form. Her role is a typical one: the love interest. Some could almost argue that she’s the love interest in Peter Parker’s life, second (or just ahead of) Mary Jane Watson (again, it depends on who you ask). The Night Gwen Stacy Died had such an impact on the character and the larger world (both in Marvel comics and outside of it), that Gwen managed what is joking’ll referred to as impossible: she’s stayed dead in the 616-verse since 1973.

death of gwen stacy

Marvel Comics

Gwen’s death came about largely because the writers just didn’t know what to do with her anymore. She was Peter Parker’s girlfriend and very little else. Killing her off was a good way to generate content. One altercation with Green Goblin, one failed rescue attempt (that may or may not have been what killed her) and boom! instant angst. It’s been forty-odd years but Gwen still lurks large over the life of Peter Parker (and the rest of Marvel).

With all of that in mind, think about Spider-Gwen. Here is a Gwen Stacy who didn’t die. Whose entire life and story does not exist to give fodder to Peter Parker. She’s got agency, she’s got dreams, she’s got a life that we actually know about1.

On top of all of that, the role that she typically fills is partially filled by Peter Parker. In this ‘verse, Gwen and Peter hadn’t actually become Gwen-and-Peter in the way that their mainstream counterparts, so instead it’s a could’ve been that feels a bit more universal. Far more of us has people that we’ve lost (or lost touch with) that we sometimes wonder about in a “road untravelled” sort of way. Combine that natural wistfulness for the unknown with the fact that in Peter’s attempt to be something other than a nerd, he turns himself into The Lizard. This Peter’s death is both by Gwen’s hand and his own and she has to deal with that guilt.  It instantly colors who she is as a character and highlights how she’d take on the mantle in a way that is different from Peter Parker.

Plus you can’t decide the whole turmoil of taking the already somewhat fraught dynamic of father-daughter relationships and adding the whole “she’s a super-powered vigilante and he’s the police captain responsible for catching her” is an angle that’s never really been explored. The closeness of the relationship blurs the lines, making each of Spider-Gwen’s actions a necessary betrayal. This series is already setting up to be a touch more serious than the first outings of Spider-Man and I’m excited for it.

The broader cultural impact can also be felt. For all of the ranting and raving that Spider-Man can only be a white dude that exists out there, it’s simply not true. Peter Parker was bitten by a radioactive spider. This time, Gwen’s the one who got bitten by said radioactive spider. It’s all a matter of chance. It was a freak accident. This just emphasizes the universal nature of the character in a way that’s different from other Spider-People2.

Spider-Gwen is an Everywoman, just as Peter Parker was an Everyman turned hero. This version of Gwen gives little girls (and grown women and grown men) yet another version of the iconic webslinger to see themselves in. Having more female heroes is important. Having one that’s not sexed-up from the get go is doubly so. It gives the four-year-old girl who dresses up in a Spider-Gwen (or Spider-Man) costume for casual daywear someone to point to when someone tries to needless police her by pointing out that only boys can be Spider-Man. It’s sad we need that at all, but at this point any little bit helps.

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Marvel Comics

 

She’s angry, she’s hurt, she’s confused. It’s been two issues, but Gwen Stacy is a person in the way her mainstream counterpart didn’t really get a chance to be. She feels lived in, even if she’s filling somewhat familiar webbing, she’s not the same character as Peter Parker just with a different set of pronouns. It’s a disservice to Gwen and to fans to think otherwise.

Gwen’s a teenaged girl who just wants to not be late for band practice3 and pass high school. Who can’t see the importance of that?

1. To be fair, we did know some things about 616-Gwen during her time out. Like where she studied, her friendship with Mary Jane Watson and who her father was. But that’s about it.

2. No offense to 616!Jessica Drew, but her being Spider-Woman is the product of an experiment on her. While that poses its own problematic set of agency questions, she was somewhat bred for her heroic life. It’s not the same as being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

3. The band! Can we just lust after the band? Everything is better with a kick ass all-girl rockband. That’s just science.

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Spider-Gwen Week: #1 Review

Spider-Gwen, Spider-Gwen, does whatever a spider can

I’ve been anticipating the kickoff of Spider-Gwen ever since the series was announced, and it all happened because we comic book fans are passionate. Yes, we can get angry and lash out a lot, but when something comes along that speaks to us, we take it in with open arms and every creative outlet we can. And Spider-Gwen spoke to a hell of a lot of people.

Spider-Gwen 1 Skottie YoungSpider-Gwen #1
Story: Jason Latour
Art: Robbi Rodriguez
Variant Cover: Skottie Young
Publisher: Marvel Comics

SPIDER-GWEN SPINS INTO HER OWN SERIES! BECAUSE YOU DEMANDED IT!

The breakout hit of the biggest Spider-Event of the century is taking comic shops by storm this winter with her own new ongoing series – SPIDER-GWEN! Gwen Stacy is Spider-Woman, but you knew that already. What you DON’T know is what friends and foes are waiting for her in the aftermath of Spider-Verse! From the fan-favorite creative team that brought you Spider-Gwen’s origin story in EDGE OF SPIDER-VERSE, Jason Latour and Robbie Rodriguez!

A book this heavily anticipated and hyped has a lot to live up to, and I think the dynamite team of Latour and Rodriguez pulls it off. Spinning out the Edge of Spider-Verse event, Spider-Gwen refreshingly jumps in during the height of Gwen’s life as a hero/menace, with no ponderous origin story in sight. We’ve seen the same beats played over and over, no matter which alternate universe Spider story is being told, so I liked that the story picks up right after Edge of Spider-Verse #2.Spider-Gwen-1-Preview-1-693f8

First off, I really, really love the art. Rodriguez has a style that is all his own, at times stylistic but not so much so that the art is confused or rushed. The color work really sells it for me; it’s at times vibrant, at times muted, but always working to enhance the art, not overpowering it.  I still love Gwen’s costume design, the white working as a stark contrast against the color surrounding it, setting Gwen apart from the world at a single glance.

A few pieces of the story are set in this issue, introducing the Vulture as the main villain. Not too much to go on there, but it does provide some delightful puns. I’m more interested in how Gwen and her father’s relationship will be worked out, as well as her relationship with The Mary Janes. This verse’s MJ isn’t quite the girl we all know and love, but it’s fun seeing her in such a state – is it because she was in love with Peter before he died, perhaps? I’m so curious to learn more about her.

As with any alternate universe stories, the fun is in picking up on new versions of old characters we’re used to seeing. Frank Castle as a cop/interrogator! The Thing as a beat cop (Yancey Street shout out!)! Foggy Nelson working as at the D.A.’s office… eh, not much difference there, I think.

Spider-Gwen-1-Preview-2-9afc4I’m also choosing to believe the Bodega Bandit is this universe’s version of Paste Pot Pete. DON’T TRY TO CONVINCE ME OTHERWISE.

The final shot of the issue was another scene that was familiar but didn’t quite hit me right away. Different villain, different circumstances and certainly will have a different outcome, but I was still unsettled by the image of Gwen falling in that particular pose.

Overall, Spider-Gwen #1 mixes up old favorites with new ideas and takes on the Spidey story, and I enjoyed it a lot. It’s hard to tell where the story will go and if it will keep up this pace, but I’m hooked and I’m here for the long run. I highly recommend picking it up if you haven’t already, and reading along with Face It, Tiger playing.

(We’ve been celebrating Spider-Gwen all week! Be sure to check out our interview with the real life band behind The Mary Janes, Married with Sea Monsters.)

 

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What We’re Reading Gwensday

Wednesday! Glorious comic book day! Check out our post to see what we’re looking forward to reading this week, and let us know what you’re picking up as well.

Our pick of the week:

Spider-Gwen_Vol_1_1_TextlessSpider-Gwen #1
Story: Jason Latour
Art: Robbi Rodriguez
Colors: Rico Renzi
Publisher: Marvel Comics

SPIDER-GWEN SPINS INTO HER OWN SERIES! BECAUSE YOU DEMANDED IT! The breakout hit of the biggest Spider-Event of the century is taking comic shops by storm this winter with her own new ongoing series – SPIDER-GWEN! Gwen Stacy is Spider-Woman, but you knew that already. What you DON’T know is what friends and foes are waiting for her in the aftermath of Spider-Verse! From the fan-favorite creative team that brought you Spider-Gwen’s origin story in EDGE OF SPIDER-VERSE, Jason Latour and Robbie Rodriguez!

Keep reading for our picks!

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Spider-Gwen Week: The Real Life Mary Janes [Interview]

maryjanes

Last year’s Edge of Spider-Verse #2 introduced the world to Spider-Gwen, the alternate universe version of Gwen Stacy, the long dead girlfriend of Peter Parker. In her universe, she’s Spider-Woman, having been bit by a genetically altered spider instead of Peter, who died after genetic experimentation on himself.

The issue was, without a doubt, the most popular issue of the Edge of Spider-Verse series. As of this writing, it’s on its fifth printing, and has not only spawned fan-art and cosplay, but a real life version of Gwen Stacy’s band from the issue, The Mary Janes. Real life band Married with Sea Monsters’ “Face it, Tiger” became an internet sensation. The indie/alternative rock band’s single managed to capture the feel of the issue and the sound true to the garage band style that might come from The Mary Janes.

And in celebration of the first issue of Spider-Gwen’s solo series, they’ll be performing this weekend at the release party for the book, at Charlotte’s Heroes Aren’t Hard to Find. We caught up with them in advance of the release to talk Spider-Gwen.

MWSM

Married with Sea Monsters: the real life Mary Janes

Girls Read Comics Too: Did you expect the song to get the amount of attention that it did?

Married with Sea Monsters: We absolutely did not expect that kind of response to Face It Tiger. It blew us away! We’re up to 85,000 hits on youtube, and it’s still going strong. Hopefully people will be just as receptive to the next MJ song, Paper Doll. We’re dropping that one on Wednesday (Feb. 25th) in honor of the first book of the series!

GRCT: What drew you to Spider-Gwen in particular?

MWSM: We’ve been close with Robbi for a long time, so we’re usually in the know about what he’s working on. He mentioned this, and started posting previews of some really awesome scenes. We got really interested when he told us she was in a band. He sent over a shot of the opening pages, and we wanted to make that song! It seemed only natural to write music for another one of his comics after the work we did on FGYG. (The album is called Destrudo, the comic is called Frankie Get Your Gun.)Jason Latour S-G 1 Variant

GRCT: Are you avid comic book readers?  If so, what books (and comic book ladies) are you loving right now?

MWSM: Ryan, Alden, and Jared are casual readers. Kat is a comic nerd, and is really loving Squirrel Girl.

GRCT: Do you have anything else planned for The Mary Janes down the line?

MWSM: We absolutely want to keep writing for the Mary Janes as long as we can. It’s become our pet project, and we’ve learned a lot from having to write in a simpler style. Ideally we’d love to track a song per book.

GRCT: DC comics is launching a new title starring their Black Canary character, and she’s part of a band too. If someone else forms a real life version of that band, do you think you’d be up for a comic book battle of the bands?

MWSM: We would be so down for that battle if it came down to it, but we’d really prefer a joint tour! Can’t we all just get along?!

Spider-Gwen #1 releases tomorrow, February 25th, and The Mary Janes’s second single “Paper Doll” is expected to release tomorrow. Keep an eye on their YouTube page. For more Married with Sea Monsters, check out them out on iTunes.

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Art Love: Matt Kaufenberg Marvels

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 Spider-Gwen

 

These adorable Marvel Comics illustrations come courtesy of Matt Kaufenberg, and absolutely made my week this week.

More of Matt Kaufenberg’s take on Marvel characters can be found after the jump, or on his tumblr.

Continue reading

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What We’re Reading Wednesday

Wednesday! Glorious comic book day! Check out our post to see what we’re looking forward to reading this week, and let us know what you’re picking up as well.

Our picks of the week:

Silk #1
Story: Robbie Thompson
Art: Stacey Lee
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Cindy Moon exploded out of her bunker and into the Marvel Universe when we first learned that she had been bitten by that same radioactive spider in the first arc of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN. She then went on to save Peter Parker’s life (more than once!) and traverse the Spider-verse alongside Spider-Woman. Now, as SILK, Cindy is on her own in New York City, searching for her past, defining her own future, and webbing up wrong-doers along the way! Robbie Thompson (writer from TV’s Supernatural) fills this new ongoing series with his unique blend of antics and feels. Featuring stunning covers by Eisner Award winner Dave Johnson and interiors by future superstar Stacey Lee.

 

Ms. Marvel #12
Story: G. Willow Wilson
Art: Elmo Bondoc
Publisher: Marvel Comics

 

• Love is in Jersey City as Valentine’s Day arrives! Kamala Khan may not be allowed to go to the dance, but Ms. Marvel is! Well sort of – by crashing it attempting to capture Asgard’s most annoying trickster! Yup, it’s a special Valentine’s Day issue featuring Marvel’s favorite charlatan, Loki!

Keep reading for our picks!

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What We’re Reading Wednesday

Wednesday! Glorious comic book day! Check out our post to see what we’re looking forward to reading this week, and let us know what you’re picking up as well.

Our picks of the week:

Ant-Man #2


Ant-Man #2

Story: Nick Spencer
Art: Ramon Rosanas
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Ant-Man’s starting a new life– a bold new adventure– and you know what that means…He needs to borrow some money! Also, an old enemy returns… kinda. Sorta. Maybe?

 

hawkeye21


Hawkeye #21

Story: Matt Fraction
Art: David Aja
Publisher: Marvel Comics

The Finale, Part 1:
• David. Clint. Barney. The Building. The Tracksuit Draculas. The Clown.
• Ever seen “Rio Bravo?” Check it out, it’s pretty good.

 

Keep reading for our picks!

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Art Love: Disney Princesses/Marvel Heroines Mash-Up

Disney Princesses as Marvel Heroines by Robby

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What We’re Reading Wednesday

Wednesday! Glorious comic book day! Check out our post to see what we’re looking forward to reading this week, and let us know what you’re picking up as well.

Our picks of the week:

RatQueens_Special_01-1Rat Queens Special: Braga #1
Story: Kurtis J. Wiebe
Art: Tess Fowler
Publisher: Image Comics

“BRAGA: THE ONCE PRINCE, NOW BASTARD” Before joining the Peaches, Braga was destined to become the greatest leader of her people. But a life changing decision proved too controversial for even her most devout followers. A former life paved on the bodies of her enemies left behind…what choice was worth losing everything? Featuring guest artist TESS FOWLER!

 

detailCaptain Marvel #11
Story: Kelly Sue DeConnick
Art: David Lopez
Publisher: Marvel Comics

• Christmas comes to the Carol Corps!

• You could even say this will be a CHRISTMAS CAROL.

• That’s a hint, guys.

 

 

Keep reading for our picks!

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Art Love: Thor

new_thor_2__by_dustsplat-d8dnk2w

Thor by John Staub

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