Spider-Gwen: Ghost Spider #5 // Review
She’s got band practice with Mary Jane. Then she’s got a date with Harry Osborn. Then she’s got to help a few people out. And stop a bank robbery. Y’know: normal stuff for a girl in school...if that girl happens to be Gwen Stacy: Spider-Woman. The life of a young hero continues in the latest issue Spider-Gwen: Ghost Spider written by Seanan McGuire with art by Takeshi Miyazawa and color by Ian Herring.
Life may not exactly be getting back to normal for Gwen Stacy, but it IS starting to feel a bit more stable for her. Things are feeling a bit more in synch with the band she’s drumming in. She’s dating a former SHIELD agent who seems to really care about her and respect her. Things seem to be threatening to. crumble around the edges, though. Was it really ethical to take money that had been offered to her for aid in finding a woman’s purse? How easy is it going to be to go back to class what with everyone knowing about her extra-curricular life behind the mask? And how is she going to deal with making enemies as Spider-Woman?
The formula for a decent Spider-Person story has been firmly established through numerous titles over the course of well over half a century. To her credit, writer Seanan McGuire finds a way to make it feel fresh with a fun match-up reversal of so many of those elements that have made the character so appealing through the generations. Allowing for her identity to be publicly known adds an element of drama that increases the hero’s anxiety. Her acceptance of money for a job she had done out of the kindness of her heart also adds an interesting depth. McGuire’s wit fits Gwen quite well. There’s nothing expressly new in the way she’s tackling a spider-base character, but McGuire delivers it all to the page with more than enough charm to keep it fun through another chapter in the life of a girl who really just wants to help people out.
Miyazawa draws emotion into Gwen AND Spider-Woman with a smart sense of action and angle. As Gwen doubt, determination and so much more plays out on her face. As Spider-Woman, her body language delivers a tremendous amount of personality, accompanied by shifts and squints of those huge, iconic Ditko-inspired eyes. One of the most interesting aspects of Miayazawa’s characterization of Gwen is that she has the body language of a young woman. It’s subtle, but Miayazawa gives the distinct impression of someone just beginning to find herself. The presence of youth mixes with the traditional postures and movements of Spider-Man fuse beautifully in another satisfying issue. Ian Herring’s colors lend kind of an expressionistic feel to the action sequences. Solid blocks of color serve as the only background to action panels dominated by dramatic lines of movement. Elsewhere shadows draw across faces to lend depth to the drama. When not in costume, there is the ever-present shadow of Gwen’s bangs and forelocks echoing the presence of the cowl in costume. The colors add to the shy characterization of a character who isn’t entirely comfortable in the spotlight whether it’s classmates asking for a selfie or people cheering and applauding her actions as Spider-Woman.
McGuire is carving out a refreshingly unique corner of the world for Gwen. The character’s personality in action in Miyazawa’s art is perfectly in synch with the character’s dialogue. McGuire and Miyazawa have a good connection with the character which will hopefully suit her quite well. The team is slated to continue on the title for the next couple of issues at least. It’ll be interesting to see where they take the character.