Gwen Stacy of Earth-65 is easily one of my favorite characters. One of her trades was the first comic I ever bought for myself. I loved her portrayal in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. So you can imagine my excitement when I saw that she was getting another run, even if it is a mini-series and not a continuation of her recent run. Instead, Tim Seeley, David Nakayama, and Jodi Nishijima’s Spider-Gwen: Gwenverse #1 is the beginning of a multiversal romp featuring a whole host of Gwens from across the various Earths of Marvel.
Writing a series like this is hard work. You have to keep the old fans like me happy while giving new people enough information to know what’s going on. You have to find a way to get all of the basic information passed along in a way that doesn’t bore people who have heard the story before.
Thankfully the sarcastic nature of Gwen helps to make this a bit easier, and Seely runs with it. From the quips used when talking to others to the way her language changes for her inner thoughts, this Gwen is looking like she’ll be the Gwen character that helped get me into comics.
Part of having a favorite character like this is having a sense of knowing what they, and the characters they routinely interact with, will think and say in certain situations. Not to say that I want things to be perfectly predictable, but maybe a bit of predictability is a good thing. After all, this is comics. We know that for the most part, MJ is going to get annoyed at Gwen. We know that Gwen’s dad is going to worry about her and try to get her to stop with this whole superhero thing. The fun is seeing the journey these conversations take as opposed to the destination.
But it’s not comics without art, and Nishijima (art) and Blee (colors) hit things out of the park. There’s no question who we’re seeing in these panels, and yet they’ve made the characters their own. Much like a good cover of a song you can tell both the original that they’re working from and the fact that this is definitively their baby. And you can’t forget about the wonderful lettering from Maher that makes sure the reader picks up on what parts of lines are emphasized to make sure we can get a better understanding of the intent of the characters.
I especially like how they mix in flashbacks from both earlier in the issue (which I promise works well in the context of the story) and as a way to quickly catch new readers up who haven’t been slowly building up a collection of Ghost-Spider memorabilia like some people who may have written this review.
The real question here is if I’d want to hand this to someone as an introduction to Ghost-Spider. To be perfectly honest I’m still trying to figure that out. On one hand, you have a pretty well-done condensed history of the character that tells you everything you need to know without taking away any need to go back and read the older material. On the other hand, you have a dimension-hopping story full of alternate versions of Gwen that, while they serve as a mirror for our Earth-65 heroine to examine herself, also add a level of complexity that might be a bit much if this is someone’s first Ghost-Spider story.
Right now I’m firmly in the camp of letting a friend borrow my copy but maybe not telling them that they need to go buy it for themselves.