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Spider-Gwen #4

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by Jason Latour, Robbi Rodriguez and Rico Renzi

The idea of Spider-Gwen, when first realized and first witnessed back as one of the Spider-Verse cross overs was massive. The implications of getting another perspective on a character that has been dead since Stan Lee penned the book–ignoring all that clone bullshit–was huge. Jason Latour and Robbi Rodriguez had something special and something that made people take notice. Four issues in, it’s still an epic concept, but it feels like maybe the monthly grind is starting to take its toll.

Latour moves his story along at a good enough pace; it’s not too fast, it’s not Hickman-levels of build-up, and it’s good enough to enjoy. The twists on prominent characters is nice, the ideas for Gwen’s backstory is great and, again, it’s cool to see Gwen Stacy from this perspective. But it really does feel like this might be a story better off only being a mini-series, rather than an ongoing book. It just doesn’t feel like the world is big enough to have longevity and it should just be a damn shame for the book to roll on into obscurity because it’s dragged out too long. It’s not that the book is bad, it really isn’t, but it’s just not up to the levels of some of the other star books from the Marvel camp. Five or six issues might be more than enough to tell a story, reward fans with a Spider-Gwen and move on. But maybe this opinion is in the minority and people are lapping it up. Still, it stands that having this book dragged out and pulled off its high pedestal does nobody any favours.

Part of what makes this book feel like it’s being affected by the grueling Marvel Monthly schedule is the slipping of Rodriguez’s art. Personally, his art is stellar. He killed it with FBP from Vertigo, and he started out extremely strong with Spider-Gwen. His design is phenomenal, his style and look is new and fresh for the Marvel camp and it’s usually a pleasure to see. This time, however, it feels like he was rushed. Spots feel off, for lack of a better term, and aren’t as tight as what you can usually expect from him. There are still pages that impress, but it’s certainly not as consistent as it has been, and it’s a shame because he’s so much better than what was on display here. Colourist Rico Renzi, for his part, does a good enough job of trying to rescue the book, or at least he tries to keep the level of quality we’re used to, but no matter how good he is with his colors, if the pencils and inks aren’t up to snuff there’s only so much he can do. As usual, though, his part is still stellar and his color usage is great and, as with Rodriguez’s work, it certainly helps to set it apart from other Marvel books.

Spider-Gwen was good, sure, but it wasn’t what we’ve been getting. It wasn’t up to the standard that this creative team has set for themselves and, really, it’s just a shame. Knowing what these guys can do and not seeing it is just disappointing. If Spider-Gwen doesn’t survive, it would be better if it ended on a high note and not cancelled because of numbers–note that I don’t have exact figures to back anything up, and maybe it’s selling like gangbusters and I should just shut up–or because of quality. It’s a great concept, with a great visual team, hopefully this is nothing but a minor slip in an otherwise successful run. Don’t let this deter you from trying this book, if you haven’t, because if only for Rodriguez’s work, Spider-Gwen is worth it. Let’s just hope that next month it’s back up to the level of quality we’re used to.

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