By Jason Latour, Robbie Rodriguez, and Rico Renzi
Spider-Gwen, the breakout star of last year’s Spider-Verse story line, is back with a brand new issue #1. Unfortunately, that really is the end of the excitement. Latour, and more notably Marvel, feed us quite a bit of the familiar, and not in a good way.
Just a year ago, this character had such a dynamic debut in her one-shot, that it quickly sprung to life an ongoing book. To see something like that happen so quickly is rare in the world of comics. That early excitement is lacking completely here. Where the first #1 and it’s opening arc felt playful, this “debut” adds nothing new and feels like a retread. It’s too early in this character’s history to be rehashing story lines already. Jason Latour’s writing is straightforward. The story moves from plot point to plot point, offering no nuance or subtlety. While stories of this nature are nice from time to time, this book leaves the reader with an empty feeling. Furthermore, Latour’s dialog is stiff. He even includes a reference to Cash Money Records, which hasn’t been relevant in well over a decade. Instead of taking this opportunity to set up future issues, Latour goes for filling in the back story. It’s an attempt to catch up new readers, but unfortunately it feels more like spinning wheels.
That being said, this book is not all bad. The strength of this issue lies with Rodriguez and Renzi’s art. The layouts are simple, yet effective. The art is light, beautifully colored, and still very energetic and kinetic. Rodriguez excels at showing how athletic a lead Spider-character should be. The visual language is presented in a fashion that communicates a certain bounce, that’s quite enjoyable. Renzi’s coloring pairs perfectly with this. It should be mentioned, Renzi also colors several flashbacks scenes with a hazy, muted wash that helps communicate the difference in the setting.
First issues are always tricky. There’s backstory to be caught up on, and new story to introduce. It’s no easy task to set the hook for the remainder of the arc, or even multiple arcs. Unfortunately, this first issue fell kind of flat. Latour has been a favorite writer of many in the past, so it’s entirely possible he can make some course correction on this book. But at the end of the day, he’s still just setting up pieces on the Spidey chessboard that someone has already played with over and over again.