Released: May 24th 2016
Received: Marvel Unlimited
Spider-Gwen is based entirely out of one of the alternate universes, so if you’re not a fan of those stories, I strongly urge you to veer away from this series. On Earth-65 Gwen Stacey is still alive, and not only that, she’s the one and only Spider-Woman (okay, she isn’t actually the only Spider-Woman, especially if you’re willing to count the ones in other universes). Needless to say she lives in a very different world than Earth-616 we’re used to seeing.
Spider-Gwen takes everything we know and were used to in the traditional (ie: Earth-616) Marvel Universe and flips it on its head. Pretty much any stabilizing feature you can think of will be the opposite, if not changed somehow. It’s a bit disorienting at first, but once you adjust to the ‘this is a different world’ bit it gets a lot easier.
Well, mostly. It’s still pretty weird seeing some of our favorite heroes be villains, though I don’t think we’ve seen the reverse yet? (I’m sure that’ll change with later volumes). At least Captain America is still a hero, though she’s a lot younger…and you know, a girl (I actually adore her, can we get a series focusing on her please? Or is that a thing and I totally missed it?). Falcon seems to function more as a sidekick that he has previously, which is probably due to his young age (I’d say barely a teenager, if you forced a guess out of me).
There are a ton of other cameos in this series, and we’re only one volume in. Spider-Woman AKA Jessica Drew makes an appearance (from Earth-616, so she’s unchanged); as does Mighty Thor (Again, from Earth-616), as well as Frank Castle (grey scale character that’ll likely turn villain), Matt Murdock (scumbag lawyer), Harry Osborn (S.H.I.E.L.D. agent? Or ex agent…not sure on that one), and Agent Carter (head of S.H.I.E.L.D.). The Bodega Bandit makes an appearance as well…but I don’t remember him, so he may be unique to this series? (Or I have a bad memory…).
As far as I’m concerned, the jury is still out on this series. It’s cool that they’ve flipped so many things, but it’s also almost cliché at times (like the Castle and Murdock ones). I think my opinion of the series will depend heavily (and vary accordingly) on the plot being told. The world itself has potential, but without a good story to carry it there’s no chance it’ll hold my attention.
I liked the artwork in the first four issues, but was less of a fan of the sudden art change in issues five and six. It was too abrupt and too different from the original style (which I quite liked, so I may be biased there). I hope they return to the original style, though I’d probably be able to adjust to the newer one with time.
I think I’ll continue reading the series for now (I also need to go back and read vol. 0, because I accidentally skipped that one, womp womp), because I’m curious about where it’ll lead. The series has potential, even if I do find myself wishing they’d stop focusing so hard on all the things they can make different (change for the sake of change isn’t always the best idea).