ADVANCED REVIEW: ‘Spider-Gwen: Gwen-Verse,’ Issue #1

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Spider-Gwen Gwen-Verse #1 - But Why Tho

Spider-Gwen: Gwen-Verse #1 is written by Tim Seeley, illustrated by Jodi Nishijima, colored by Federico Blee, and lettered by VC’s Ariana Maher. It’s published by Marvel Comics. Gwen Stacy, aka Ghost-Spider, attempts to balance her superhero career with attending college in another universe and continuing to play with her band the Mary Janes. And she’s not handling it very well. Complicating matters, the machinations of the being known as Finale splits Gwen’s consciousness across the universe, resulting in different Gwen Stacys adopting the mantle of heroes across the Marvel pantheon. With the help of Spider-Zero, Gwen swings through time and space attempting to stop her alternate selves from messing up the flow of time – and Finale also plots to hunt her down.

This series acts as a sister series to the current What If…? series recasting Miles Morales as various heroes across the Marvel Universe, though to be honest, both series also feel like a warmup for the first part of Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse. And it feels weird. Gwen Stacy is an integral part of the Spider-Man mythos so it makes sense that an alternate version of her winds up bitten by a radioactive spider. It makes less sense for a version of her to have Thor’s hammer or a version of her to be Wolverine. In short, it feels like this series is taking a good idea and stretching it thin. It’s one thing to have a series of variant covers reimagining characters as superheroes; it’s another to focus an entire series around that.

That being said, Seeley does manage to work in themes of mental health into his script, particularly in the split between Gwen and Finale. Gwen is revealed to have a case of major self-loathing spurred by her fractured relationship with her father and her responsibilities crashing into each other. Meanwhile, Finale uses the love of her adoring fans to try and steal the lives of superheroes through time. This ends up costing said fans their lives. Good superhero stories often draw a connection between their foes, and this is no exception. Seeley also taps upon elements from the Spider-Verse miniseries and Heroes Reborn, since this series takes place on different worlds.

Nishijima, best known for her work on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, brings an anime-inspired flair to the series. Gwen looks like a dead ringer for Sailor Venus at times, excluding when she wears her symbiote suit as Ghost-Spider (though her clothing matches her white and black spider-suit.) Finale looks like a cyberpunk version of Lady Gaga and her Terminal Six are amusing alternates of classic Spidey villains. For example, Dr. Cephelopad looks like an unholy fusion of Doctor Octopus and Cthulhu. The action sequences are nothing to sneeze at, either: Gwen ends up facing off against a massive robot that looks like it walked out of the Transformers franchise. Paired with Blee’s bright colors, this art makes the book worth a read (or at the very least worth the cover price.)

Spider-Gwen: Gwen-Verse #1 pushes the appeal of alternate Gwen Stacys to its limits, though its artwork and themes of mental health are well crafted. Hopefully future issues pick up those themes, as I feel like there are only so many Gwens that this concept can work with.

Spider-Gwen: Gwen-Verse #1 will be available wherever comics are sold on March 9, 2022.


Spider-Gwen: Gwen-Verse #1
3.5

TL;DR

Spider-Gwen: Gwen-Verse #1 pushes the appeal of alternate Gwen Stacys to its limits, though its artwork and themes of mental health are well crafted. Hopefully future issues pick up those themes, as I feel like there are only so many Gwens that this concept can work with.