Sometime back, during a science demonstration, a teenager got bitten by a spider. That teen gained the abilities of the spider and learnt that with great power comes great responsibility. However, that teenager was not Peter Parker. In this Universe, that teenager is Gwen Stacy: Spider-Woman.
"The Mary Janes" are rehearsing. Gwen Stacy, their drummer, is zoning out: remembering how she was bitten by a (presumably) radioactive spider. This led her to TV appearances (similar to her 616 counterpart) with her father watching, disappointed that a girl with so much to give lowers herself to such stunts (unaware it's his daughter he's watching). Gwen's boyfriend, Peter Parker, was a victim of bullies but had Gwen to stick up from him. Feeling emasculated, Peter injected himself with an experimental serum that turned him into a lizard-like creature. He died in Gwen's arms just wanting to be someone special like her. This prompted J. Jonah Jameson, believing Spider-Woman to be more directly responsible for Peter's death than actuality, to persecute her, not wanting Parker's death to be in vain.
Flashback over, and the other “Mary Janes” have to snap Gwen out of her trance, which had led her to some exuberant drumming. Bailing on the rehearsal, Gwen suits up and web slings through New York, whilst on the phone to her father. Whilst she likes music, he wants her to focus, maybe go to a college saying “If you pay attention, life will show you where you are needed most”. Gwen arrives at a train station and is challenged by a cop. Fearing for the civilians, as he starts shooting wildly at her, she webs him up and calls for back up on his radio. Captain Stacy's men arrive, with helicopter support, so Spider-Woman decides to exit.
Meanwhile, Aleksei Sytsevich is having lunch with Matt Murdock. Seems the latter has been asked by the Kingpin to get the former to kill Captain Stacy. This would remove their police officer problem and may encourage Spider-Woman to join them, figuring the Captain is as much her hassle as he is theirs.
At their gig, the Mary Janes have to go out without their drummer although Gwen arrives late and rushes to the stage. Her father has shown up, surprised that she is late to her own concert. Aleksei arrives just as Gwen does and she sees him smack her dad across the hall. Suiting up, Spider-Woman attacks, surprising Aleksei (as he thinks he's helping her) so he assumes she wants to dance! Aleksei is strong and grabs Gwen in a bear hug. Remembering back to her drumming outburst earlier (yes, really), Gwen is inspired to unleash a similar beating on Aleksei. Webbing up and then knocking out a shocked Aleksei, Spider-Woman turns to leave but Captain Stacy stops her at gunpoint, arresting her for the murder of Peter Benjamin Parker. Gwen tries to profess her innocence but has to unmask to convince her father that Spider-Woman isn't bad. She used to shirk her responsibilities but Peter's death taught her to be responsible so that the same thing doesn't happen again. She might not want to be Spider-Woman but this is where she is needed most.
Her father lets her flee, whilst in the shadows a Union Jack inspired Spider-Man watches on stating "You'll do quite nicely".
Whilst not necessarily anything special, I enjoyed this comic. Unlike with Edge Of Spider-Verse #1, this Spider had no previous comic history and so had to fill that in with a double page flashback, which worked well. It reminded me a little of the Bullet Points mini-series, with characters we were familiar with taking different but familiar roles. Here Gwen is Spider-“Man”, Peter became the Lizard and Matt Murdock works for the Kingpin. There were some nice nods in the background to show this world wasn't completely different, acknowledging the existence of Stark Industries, Roxxon Energy, Serval Industries, Alpha, Dazzler and Wasp and also J. Jonah Jameson's complete hatred of the Spider.
Story-wise, it was a bit weak to be honest as it was nothing new – Spidey avoids cops, helps civilians and takes out bad guys in a responsible manner. However, in many ways that was a good thing. This Spider just like the regular one and this story showed that. I hope we get to she Gwen use her smarts (like Peter does) in subsequent appearances as opposed to just using her “drumming knowledge” to beat someone up! One thing that stood out to me was Gwen's elegant speech to her father at the end, explaining why she is Spider-Woman, whilst nicely referring back to earlier points in the story.
Finally the art, and this is a new artist to me. For the record, I'm a huge fan of Ramos and his style and this was quite different but I liked it. The frenetic pace in fight scenes was captured well. On the other hand, I didn't care for his onomatopoeias. Too many and quite weird. “Thawp” not “Thwip”, “Kashnwse” (at least that' what it looked like) not “Crash”. I also wasn't overly keen on the grey Aleksei. A nod to his 616 Rhino counterpart of course but I wasn't keen.
All in all though, it was a good one-shot introduction to the character. She fits into Otto's plan of gathering atypical Spider-Men, especially those that aren't “Peter Parker”.
Good fun – Look forward to seeing Gwen in Spider-Verse. Nice to see a Gwen that isn't a clone.
After Edge of Spider-Verse #1 I can see Spider-Man Noir being picked up for at least a limited series but with this Spider-Woman there's not enough (yet) to make me hope for an ongoing series.