Spider-Gwen: Ghost-Spider #9 // Review
Gwen’s in a band. She’s the drummer. They’re playing a concert at a dance club. She’s been rushing the beat. It’s annoying the lead singer, but a little problem with the beat becomes a rather minor concern when a bomb goes off in the club. Gwen’s going to get to the bottom of what happened because it’s her book and she’s the title character. Writer Seanan McGuire stylishly reaches the end of a multi-part story with “Hammer to the Heat”--the ninth issue of Spider-Gwen: Ghost Spider. Artist Takeshi Miyazawa brings wit and menace to Gwen’s world.
It’s a mess in the club. Smoke is clearing from the bomb, with People crawling through the wreckage. Gwen’s band rests onstage behind a massive wall of webbing. They’re safe. Not everyone else is as lucky. Gwen knows the bomb was meant for her. She’s off to confront the person responsible for putting so many lives in danger in an attempt to end hers. She’s angry and upset, and she’s willing to do something very, very drastic to the individual responsible. Things get a little complicated when that person turns out to be a massive Man-Wolf with the power to crush her tiny, little body.
McGuire has been playing with a lot of different moods in recent issues. McGuire has been hitting all of the traditional Marvel web-slinger concerns with Gwen. It’s been a lot of fun watching all of the anxieties and frustrations of trying to balance life, art, and heroism under the mask. With “Hammer to the Heat,” McGuire puts Gwen in all-out vengeance/heroism mode. She’s been teetering on the brink of doing something really questionable, and there’s a good chance that she might really hurt someone. McGuire balances dramatic tensions against a darker end of Gwen’s intensely charismatic sense of humor in a well-paced story that shoots Gwen out into a resolution (however temporary) to some of the issues she’s been dealing with thus far.
Miyazawa continues to find interesting angles in which to propel the action of the series. Miyazawa keeps the visual energy interesting rom the clever, little Gwen’s-eye-view of the club’s wreckage at the opening of the issue to the clean-up in the bomb’s aftermath to the grim determination of the hero to track down the villain to the ridiculously mismatched combat between girl and Man-Wolf at issue’s end. Gwen’s incredibly expressive through a pair of eyes and very dynamic body language. She’s kind, compassionate, vulnerable, aggressive and somewhat merciless. Miyazawa expertly captures subtleties and intricacies in Gwen’s many moods.
McGuire and Miyazawa give Gwen plenty of room to move around the center of the panels with an impressive amount of characterization feeding through the story. Gwen’s a very complicated person. One of the big problems with the long-run of Spider-Man had been the repetition of his life. Every villain he put away was destined to escape and come after him again. For his first several decades, Peter Parker’s life became one, long dark tapestry of justice and vengeance. McGuire and Miyazawa give Gwen’s life more texture. With his installment, it really feels like she’s learned something in the process of dealing with everything she’s dealt with. She’s come a long way in recent issues, and it REALLY feels like she’s progressing in a way that Parker hadn’t been allowed to this early in his career. It’s refreshing to see this sort of story handled with a better grasp of a long-term story arc.