Ghost Spider #1 // Review
Gwen Stacy has elected to enroll in school out of state...sort of. She's enrolling at Empire State University. ESU is in New York, she lives in a different New York. She'll be commuting to a parallel dimension to go to school. It's actually easier that way. A new chapter in the life of Gwen Stacy opens as writer Seanan McGuire and artist Takeshi Miyazawa present the debut issue of Ghost-Spider. All the witty humor and deftly juggled work/life/adventure balance of Stacy's previous series continue into the debut chapter of her latest chronicles.
It's difficult for Gwen to explain to Mary Jane that she's going to be going to school in a parallel dimension. There will be less time for her to practice with the band. Having delivered the bad news, Gwen is off to meet with the Dean of Admissions at ESU. Her pal Peter Parker managed to get her in right away. And helped her apply for a certain Stark Scholarship set-up for aliens, dimensional travelers, machine intelligences and such. Things aren't all perfect though, she finds herself fighting a giant rampaging rodent alongside Spider-Man. In a battle which will doubtlessly foreshadow further entanglements in future issues.
McGuire's writing is particularly sharp in this debut issue of the new series. The premise of a young web-slinger commuting to a parallel dimension to attend college is remarkably smart. It puts an intelligent spin on a Spider-person genre that has been grinding along for decades. At its heart, all of the basic issues that Ditko was working on back in the 1960s are still there. McGuire isn't re-inventing everything. She's just mutating enough to keep it remarkably fresh. The dialogue is sharp, and there's a very deft layering of different plot points that bring together a very well-rounded issue. What's more, McGuire has a clear mastery of the way culture would move in a world that's seen decades of superhero activity. The culture of Marvel Manhattan feels so real in McGuire's hands. Her treatment of it makes the. Gwen's personal drama that much more vivid.
Miyazawa's work fluidly moves Gwen through a series of distinctly different scenes. The subtle difference in dramatic tensions is delivered in a variety of different ways between facial expressions, body language, and the framing of each panel. McGuire throws a few moments at Miyazawa that would likely be way too idiosyncratic for most artists. Miyazawa gives them a brilliantly quirky life. One particularly amusing moment has Spider-Man and Ghost Spider finishing an encounter, looking at each other for a brief moment of silence and then breaking into laughter. The strangeness of the moment has overcome them, and they're laughing. Miyazawa brings across that moment and so many others with a brilliant touch.
McGuire and Miyazawa have done such an excellent job with Gwen this year. This new chapter moves Gwen in a direction that allows for her to advance in a new direction of character development while staying true to the roots of the firmly established tradition of Marvel wall-crawlers.