At the end of Secret Wars Marvel folded many characters and universes into Earth-616 except for Spider-Gwen and Earth-65. Its survival has allowed Spider-Gwen to continue to deliver a different take on long established characters. The latest story arc, “Weapon of Choice,” has led to Spider-Gwen to face off against one of her deadliest villains in Punisher. Add Gwen losing her powers and the drama that has come with it has made this latest arc one of the most compelling stories in the series to date. Now with Spider-Gwen #12 the “Weapon of Choice” story arc comes to an end. Let’s see how things end.
Writer: Jason Latour
Artist: Robbi Rodriguez
Colorist: Rico Renzi
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: George Stacy calls Captain Jean DeWolff to inform her that Frank Castle is following Gwen. Jean tells George that she is bringing Frank back into the NYPD so he can operate within the law. George has enough of what Jean is telling him and says that Frank sent Kraven to attack him and Gwen at their house to draw out Spider-Woman. This leaves Jean in shock.
Elsewhere Spider-Woman is fighting Frank Castle who has become War Machine. While they continue their fight George is still on the phone with Jean and informs her that Frank is now working for Tony Stark.
As the fight intensifies Spider-Woman thinks about how something else is driving Frank in this fight. It is shown that Spider-Woman is right as Frank’s wife Maria sent him a message telling him not to try to find her or their kid.
While Spider-Woman is able to put up a good fight she is soon overwhelmed by War Machine’s weapons. War Machine uses his weapons to send Spider-Woman through several buildings, surprising the residents inside. Spider-Woman makes an attempt to grab War Machine but when she gets ahold of his gauntlets she is shocked by its tazer.
With Spider-Woman knocked out War Machine goes in for the finishing blow but is stopped by George Stacy, who is standing on a building across from where Spider-Woman and War Machine are. George tries to talk some sense into War Machine but he doesn’t want to hear none of George’s words.
As Frank is about to attack George Spider-Woman recovers and tackles him from behind in order to get War Machine’s repulsor blast to miss hitting its target. War Machine is able counter and pin Spider-Woman to the ground. As she is pinned to the ground Spider-Woman powers through War Machine’s gauntlet shocking her and kicks him away, also taking of his gauntlet in the process.
Spider-Woman goes to check on her dad and sees that he is hanging on to the edge of the building he is on after War Machine’s attack missed. Before she can help her dad War Machine attacks Spider-Woman with his gun. While Spider-Woman dodges War Machine’s shots the bullets hit the roof that George is hanging on to.
As George loses his grip Jean arrives and holds War Machine at gun point. Frank tells Jean that Spider-Woman and George deserve what he is doing to them as they are criminals. Jean points out that if they are criminals than that makes Frank worse for all the damage he has caused.
As they talk Spider-Woman saves George after he starts falling from the crumbling roof he was on.
Frank tries to shoot Spider-Woman but he is out of bullets. Since he is out of bullets Frank decides to make his escape. Ben Grimm arrives on the scene and tries to shoot Frank as he runs away but is stopped by Jean.
Spider-Woman swings her dad and herself onto the ground below the fight. While there she takes off her mask and Gwen apologizes to her dad. She continues to say that she doesn’t know how she can break the cycle she is in to protect them both. George tells his daughter that she can’t but that he can by turning himself in.
Gwen does not understand why her dad would turn himself in. George explains that when Gwen showed up as Spider-Woman he did not understand what was going on and allowed fear to guide his judgement, much like Frank Castle. He says because of that he is responsible for what happened. Gwen tells her dad she does not want to be alone. George assures her that she won’t be alone and that he must do this as a police officer.
As the police arrive at their location Gwen makes her escape while George turns himself in.
Two weeks later Gwen is at work reading an article written about her dad by Ben Urich. The Bodega Bandit arrives and tries to rob the restaurant. Gwen, who becomes angry over the article she is reading, grabs the Bodega Bandit and throws him out. She then proceeds to kick out all the people in the restaurant as well. Gwen’s boss closes the restaurant and as the two are cleaning up he welcomes her to the world of fast food.
As Gwen is standing outside someone begins to talk to her, insulting her knack for melodrama and her dad for being stupid in his bravery of turning himself in. The person then asks Gwen what she will do: be brave like her dad told her or use her head. He then explains that he can beat Foggy in court easily and get George out as long as he works with him. Gwen says that she will make sure her dad works with him.
The mysterious person shows himself to be Matt Murdock, aka the Kingpin, who has The Hand watching his back. Matt is happy that Gwen agrees to use his services and that he now has Spider-Woman working for him. Matt and Gwen shake hands to seal the deal. End of issue.
The Good: Jason Latour continues to deliver the goods as he provides a great shake up to the series with the ending of Spider-Gwen #12. The story with Frank Castle reached a satisfying conclusion that left the door open for many possibilities. Also with how things ended we got to see how Spider-Gwen is a series that is very different from the rest of the Spider-Man related series Marvel is publishing.
The fight between Spider-Woman and Frank Castle as War Machine delivered on what I expect on. As with other reimagined characters, Latour made Frank Castle as War Machine a very compelling villain. There were a lot of elements of the Punisher character mixed in with the cool weapons we expect from someone using Iron Man’s tech. The addition of War Machine’s weapons made this whole fight feel different from other fights we have seen involving Punisher. This unpredictability is helped by how Latour has been able to develop Frank as an unhinged cop whose sole focus was taking down Spider-Woman.
By battling such a villain in War Machine it gave us another chance to see the weight Gwen is carrying as Spider-Woman. Not only was this yet another battle against someone out to kill her based on what everyone thinks of her following Peter Parker’s death but she was also trying to defend her dad. George Stacy’s addition to the fight made the drama of the action feel more impactful. Given the character’s history in the main Marvel Universe there was a sense that this could’ve been the moment where we saw Gwen faced with the death of her dad. This is an element of the Spider-Man mythos that Latour did a fine job with playing up on and delivered something different.
Seeing Gwen save her dad only for George to make the biggest sacrifice to save his daughter was incredibly impactful. It’s another great way that Latour shows the reader how close of a relationship they share as father-daughter. Seeing Gwen tear up as she couldn’t stop her dad from turning himself in and having to leave him behind was heart breaking. The same goes for George’s choice to turn himself in to the NYPD as you can see that he was hoping this choice would help Gwen find a way to clear her name.
While this would’ve been a great ending to leave Spider-Gwen #12 on I’m glad Latour did not waste any time in showing us what Gwen was feeling afterwards. Seeing Gwen lash out by quickly throwing Bodega Bandit when he tries to rob the restaurant she works at was effective in showing her state of mind. Both the writing and artwork in this scene worked together to show us the toll reading articles and probably hearing people talk about her dad has had on her mentally. She definitely looked as though she hasn’t slept very much in the two weeks since the events with War Machine.
This mental state that Latour presents us with makes the big twist that Gwen is turning to Matt Murdock, otherwise known as the Kingpin in this universe, for help much more understandable. After clashing so many times with Murdock during her time as Spider-Woman he is the only she knows that can help her dad. While there may have been other choices with her state of mind Gwen it’s understandable that she would turn to the one person that she knows that will get her dad out of prison without much effort.
It’s a turn that also adds how despicable of a character this version of Matt Murdock is. Because while he is helping out Gwen he is doing it so he can assert his control over Spider-Woman. His confidence in defeating Foggy Nelson in court and how he explains it makes you hate. Now what he has Gwen do as Spider-Woman will be very interesting to see. Because does Gwen actually have a plan going into this partnership with Matt or is she going into it blinded by her focus of getting her father out of prison? That’s something that will add a lot of intriguing plot elements moving forward.
As much as Latour’s story nails it on intrigue its Robbi Rodriguez that made this issue stand out even more. His art style gives this series a unique look that makes this series different from everything else Marvel is producing. He does an especially great job making Frank Castle look as crazy as the actions Latour has him take. The way he draws Gwen in the aftermath of George Stacy’s decision also effectively showed us how much stress she is under. This in turn makes Gwen’s decision to be much more effective as we can tell that she is someone that is at the end of her rope.
The Bad: Nothing
Overall: Spider-Gwen #12 is one of the best issues of the series. Jason Latour and Robbi Rodriguez effectively shake up Gwen Stacy’s world with how her fight with Frank Castle ended. Now faced with a life without her dad to turn to Latour has created a situation where we are going to see a desperate Gwen that doesn’t have someone to talk her out of bad decisions. Gwen’s current state of mind is driven home by her decision to turn to Matt Murdock for help. How this decision will affect her personal and Spider-Woman life will be interesting to see moving forward.