From Damsel To Hero: Gwen Stacy’s Superior Turn As Spider-Girl
For all of its many faults, among the finest things this spring’s The Superb Spider-Man 2 had going for it was Emma Stone within the role of Gwen Stacy.
The film’s script, unfortunately, didn’t really do her any favors, up to and including—here’s your spoiler warning—her demise at the end of the movie. Purists would possibly disagree; they’d cite the truth that the film stays true to the comic-e-book supply materials and that it was a watershed second for comics. They’d be proper about those issues: That’s what Gwen Stacy does. She dies. But with each passing yr, it seems much less like obligatory canon and more like missed opportunity—as a new comic ebook released this week exhibits.
On Wednesday, the second challenge of the five-part miniseries Edge of Spider-Verse was released. Every issue is a self-contained story by a unique creative group about an alternate version of Spider-Man set in its own respective universe. This week’s situation, by Jason Latour and Robbi Rodriguez with colors by Rico Renzi, is about a world where Gwen Stacy is bitten by the radioactive spider instead of Peter Parker.
Alternate universes are previous-hat in comic books, particularly in 2014 when the largest stories at both Marvel and DC (Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers run and Grant Morrison’s Multiversity, respectively) deal heavily with threats to multiple universes. They’re usually used as an excuse for telling a story that doesn’t match throughout the constraints of a book’s ongoing narrative—so for those who wished to have Superman raised by Soviets as a substitute of farmers from Kansas, you might simply set that story in an alternate universe and have at it without inviting the ire of everyone else making an attempt to tell or take pleasure in in-continuity stories. (If you’d like to learn that story, it’s known as Superman: Purple Son, and it’s pretty good.)
Edge of Spider-Verse #2 feels different. Not simply because Marvel guarantees that Spider-Gwen (as fans have dubbed her) will play a big part on this Fall’s big Spider-Verse event—which may very well be terrible, as event comics are at all times a mixed bag—but as a result of it finds a way to riff on Spider-Man’s core themes in a way that’s natural and fresh. All the points of what makes Spider-Man endure as a character (and in addition serve as the template for numerous other superheroes) are there, however Edge #2 comes at them sideways, making them resonate and really feel new once more.
It additionally helps that the comedian isn’t an origin story, despite the fact that that is the first time this specific version of Gwen Stacy has proven up in comics. As an alternative, readers are introduced to Gwen sometime after the spider bite. In an efficient two-page unfold, the reader is caught up to hurry: Like the unique Spider-Man, Gwen will get bitten and uses her powers to turn into famous as Spider-Girl. Her classmate, Peter Parker, is brilliant however bullied—and impressed by seeing Spider-Girl on television, he experiments on himself within the hopes of turning into equally superhuman and getting the better of the bullies that mock him. It backfires, and he turns into The Lizard. What then happens is left deliberately unclear, but Peter’s transformation and the havoc that ensues results in his dying. The general public, unaware that The Lizard was in truth Peter, makes a martyr out of him and blames Spider-Lady.
But that’s page two. Web page one is much more vital. It’s about Gwen’s rock band.
As a side notice, extra comics should have rock bands in them. However let’s talk about this one for a bit, as a result of it’s each vital to the plot and an fascinating creative resolution. In the plot of Edge of Spider-Verse #2, Gwen’s performs drums for The Mary Janes. (Guess where that title comes from.) She’s distracted, though; nonetheless reeling from the fallout of Peter’s loss of life, she’s off her game behind the kit and frustrated by the police’s relentless pursuit of Spider-Girl. It’s traditional teen hero stuff, however it doesn’t really feel tired. (A big purpose for this is simply because secret identities work so much better for teen characters. It’s a approach of externalizing how they interact with the world. You’re nonetheless figuring out who you’re, and so there’s dc comics tee shirts a performative nature to how you act outwardly—there’s always a distinction between that outward behavior and “the real me,” and that may always resonate, because that never actually goes away.)
What makes The Mary Janes so fascinating, however, even as a plot device—the story’s climax occurs at a concert—are the young girls in it. Gwen and Mary Jane are joined by Glory Grant and an unnamed bassist who we can safely assume is Betty Brant. With the exception of Glory, all of these characters are girls who have been largely outlined by their relationship with Peter. At one level or one other in the mainstream Marvel Universe, Betty, Gwen, and Mary Jane had been involved in a relationship with the superhero’s alter-ego. In building a world where Peter has died and never realized to make associates with anybody, having all the younger girls who are historically outlined by their relationships to him in a band collectively immediately locations them in a radically completely different context—in which their own personalities might potentially come to the fore.
Whereas there’s no room to truly delve into it within the confines of a single challenge (remember that Betty isn’t even named, but there’s few different characters she may truly be), the fact that they’re all in a band collectively suggests so much about characters who’re primarily thought of in relation to Peter. Girls in a band would have ambitions, they might have artistic variations, they would have issues to say about the world and arguments concerning the way to say it. They may have their very own romantic exploits wherein they’re lively members and never passive objects. It signifies a world you’d wish to spend time in. The punk-rock exploits of Gwen and The Mary Janes have the potential to be simply as fascinating as dc comics tee shirts Spider-Woman’s adventures, each visually and narratively—Robbi Rodriguez and Rico Renzi establish a look that’s enjoyable and fluid, and the design for Spider-Gwen’s outfit is solidly in the higher echelon of nice superhero costumes.
While tales set in alternate universes could be refreshing, a protected place for creators to try out wild and loopy ideas, they often find yourself being both (a) only of curiosity to uberfans, telling stories that sound like they have been lifted from conversations overheard in comedian retailers (‘What if The Punisher simply killed Everybody In the MARVEL UNIVERSE ) or (b) completely disregarded by fans who are only searching for tales that “count” in the direction of the greater continuity. Some alternate universes do acquire traction in comics, like Marvel’s Final universe—but many times these tales simply ask “What if ” very loudly with out bothering to say anything significant. Sure, it would be cool if the sky had been green and the grass had been blue, but that doesn’t make it compelling. Spider-Gwen succeeds because it isn’t a superficial inversion, but an examination of what makes Spider-Man an vital character.
In what will be the issue’s most sensible contact, the Spider-Man mantra-with great energy comes great responsibility—isn’t used as a phrase of recommendation from a father figure, however as a reprimand from editor J. Jonah Jameson, calling for Spider-Woman’s arrest. However Gwen doesn’t pay him any mind—he’s a pundit, out for blood. As a substitute, Gwen decides to be accountable. She decides to take on this burden, because she’s seen the form of affect that her power provides her, and she’s seen the harm that may come from utilizing it selfishly. She decides that the world needs Spider-Woman.
Nevertheless, there’s an elephant in the room right here, and it’s this: with the exception of assistant editor Ellie Pyle, everybody who put within the exhausting work to make Edge of Spider-Verse #2 is male. This isn’t meant to detract from the great guide that’s on the stands, however it’s essential to point out. Creator range is just as essential as character diversity, and whereas Marvel is making inroads on the latter, it’s nonetheless very much lacking in the former. Whereas we know the writer intends to use the character in its large Spider-Verse blockbuster, Spider-Gwen and her world have the beginnings of a extremely attention-grabbing, feminine-centric spin on a beloved universe, one that will have legs. One that may be a fantastic showcase for feminine creators.
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