Spider-Gwen has been consistently one Marvel’s best titles since it originally debut last year. The challenges Gwen has faced in light of her father’s arrest has turned this series upside-down in the best kind of ways. Jason Latour has turned this new development into something that is completely different from what we have seen any of the Spider-Man related characters go through. The connection with the evil Matt Murdock has made the shades of grey Gwen is operating under even darker. How things continue from here is anyone’s guess. So with that said, let’s see what’s next for Gwen Stacy with Spider-Gwen #15.
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: In the secret SHIELD prison Cindy Moon is reading in her prison cell as the guards are singing Christmas music. The lights suddenly go out and the guards are quickly taken out by a person wearing a devil’s mask.
The guy in the devil’s mask opens Cindy’s prison cell. She quickly deduces from his smell that it’s Matt Murdock and immediately kisses him. Cindy then wonders why Matt, the Kingpin of Crime, would want from her as SILK’s leader to get Spider-Woman back in action.
Elsewhere, the Mary Janes are performing some Christmas music on the streets of NYC. A person in the crowd suddenly steals the money people gave them. MJ tells Gwen to go after the guy as Spider-Woman.
Gwen decides to go after the guy who stole their money in her normal clothes without taking her power-up pills. She struggles to catch up to the guy and ends up tripping in an alleyway.
When she gets up she sees a Hand ninja named Otomo, who is the First Blade of The Kingpin, has already captured the guy who stole her band’s money. Otomo throws the guy down and tells Gwen that his boss wants to meet her at midnight.
A little later an NYPD cop, Officer Boyle, gets Gwen and her band’s statement about the guy who stole their money. Boyle is shocked to learn she is Captain Stacy’s dad. He tell Gwen he is sorry for what happened to her dad and that a lot of cops on the NYPD were upset Captain Stacy was working with Spider-Woman.
Gwen reminds Boyle that her dad was in charge of capturing Spider-Woman and that he only help her because he knew Spider-Woman was good hero. She goes on to say that the trial will be the stage her dad needs to tell the truth and protect them all from what is going on.
Boyle is shocked to hear such mature things coming from Gwen. He tries to get Gwen to tell her dad something for him but she says if Boyle has something to say to her dad to say it himself since it’s the holidays.
Later that night Gwen arrives at the rooftops in her Spider-Woman gear for the meeting with Matt. As she waits a Hand ninja attacks her from behind. Spider-Woman quickly recovers and takes one of her power-up pills, leaving her four left. With her powers back Spider-Woman is able to easily take down the Hand ninja.
Before Spider-Woman can catch her breath four more Hand ninjas surround her. Spider-Woman does her best to defend herself against the Hand ninjas.
As the fight is going on Matt and Otomo watch on from a nearby rooftop. Matt asks Otomo for his opinion on Spider-Woman. Otomo says that while Spider-Woman has the powers she will never be able to reach the level of being an elite Hand ninja. Matt reveals that it’s not Spider-Woman’s skills that he is interest in but what she represents.
Not long after a heavily injured Spider-Woman is on the verge of collapsing after defeating the Hand ninjas. Otomo appears and forces Spider-Woman into defending herself. Otomo is able to cut Spider-Woman with his sword several times, destroying her web-shooters with her power-up pills inside in the process.
Matt congratulates Otomo on his skills still being at a high level. He then expresses his disappointment in Gwen’s showing in the fight. Matt then reveals he knows all about Gwen’s use of power-up pills to mask the fact she has lost her powers. He goes on to reveal that he is in a secret relationship with Cindy Moon, who revealed Gwen’s loss of powers to him.
Feeling the spirit of holidays, Matt gives Spider-Woman a case full of power-up pills. Spider-Woman wonders why Matt would give those to her. Matt does not reveal why he did this for her. Instead Matt acts mysterious and walks away while singing Christmas music, leaving a stunned Spider-Woman alone to sit in the snow.
At the NYPD holding cells Officer Boyle gives Captain Stacy a Christmas present. Boyle salutes Captain Stacy saying that he was a father figure to him and a lot of other cops. Captain Stacy shakes Boyle’s hand from his cell and wishes him a Merry Christmas. End of issue.
The Good: Jason Latour and Robbi Rodriguez continue to find ways to move Gwen Stacy in a direction that moves her personal and superhero life in unique ways. There is a constant conflict between both sides of who Gwen wants to be in and out of her costume. With Spider-Gwen #15 continues the trend of challenging who the character is ways we don’t see from most superhero books.
The lack of powers has been something different for Gwen compared to her Spider brothers and sisters. Unlike when Peter Parker and others have lost their powers for a time we always knew that they would get them back somehow. That thought of never getting their powers back was never a question for them, at least for us as readers. The same can’t be said for Gwen as Jason Latour continues to go a longer period with this power loss.
By having gone for such a long time between when she lost her powers and now we see how Gwen is trying to balance the pull of being a superhero with conserving the power pills she has. Having a limited supply of them has shown us that while Gwen wants to always save the day she knows that something she can’t do. Her trying to catch the bad guy at the beginning of this issue was another example of Gwen’s conservative nature with her power pills is not a good long-term solution. This set Gwen up to be an even more vulnerable position for Matt Murdock to take advantage of later on in the issue.
Gwen’s position of weakness compliments the current seat of power Matt finds himself in as the Kingpin of crime. Latour has created a character in Matt that you want to see get punched every time he is on screen, even without him saying a word. Even when he provides Gwen with a helping hand so she can continue being Spider-Woman you know that you can’t trust him. Because even in helping we know that Matt is just taking advantage of Gwen’s current lack of power for his own gain.
The addition of Earth-65 Cindy Moon to Matt’s continued growth in power makes both characters even more dislikable. This relationship between the two creates an even bigger gap for Gwen to overcome as Spider-Woman. Because now not only does she have to figure out a more long-term solution than being reliant on power pills but also has two of the most powerful mafia leaders to contend with.
While this long-term problem continues to get worse for Gwen, this is not the only problem she has to contend with in her Spider-Woman career. As we see with Spider-Gwen #15, though we think she is an experience hero, Gwen still has a lot to learn. Her fight with Otomo and the Hand ninja is a good reminder that Gwen is not an experienced fighter. Up until now she has been relying on luck and her powers to get herself through everything. But now that she is in the grasps of Matt her luck and powers won’t be enough. She needs to get some form of training if she wants to be able to continue on as Spider-Woman.
I also got to give it up to Latour for making Otomo and the Hand such dangerous foes for Spider-Woman. For far too long we have seen how the Hand have become a joke as grunts for other villains within the Marvel Universe. With Earth-65 being completely separated from the main universe Latour took this as opportunity to make the Hand a credible threat. Spider-Woman’s reaction to their use of deadly force when she barely dodged their killing blows was fantastic. Otomo’s review of Spider-Woman in action was equally well done to show us the standard elite Hand ninjas hold themselves and others to.
This conflict with Gwen’s Spider-Woman life was nicely balanced with her personal one. Latour continue to do a good job integrating Gwen’s personal life into the moral conflict she has. The Mary Janes have been a good reminder of all the good Gwen can do as Spider-Woman. This nicely transitioned to the current state with her dad in prison. Gwen’s confrontation with the NYPD cop reminds us of how much her father’s current situation is affecting her. The ending was a nice payoff to at least give us some hope that for all that is currently happening the strength of Gwen and Captain Stacy remains strong.
As always, Robbi Rodriguez unique style gives Spider-Gwen #15 a personality that does not exist in other Marvel comics. Rodriguez does not have the typical superhero style which is perfect for a series like Spider-Gwen that takes place in its own universe. His action sequences are fluid with how he portrays the Hand as dangerous foes when up against Spider-Woman. At the same time, Rodriguez is able to nail the emotions on characters faces to give them enough expression without looking over the top.
The Bad: Nothing
Overall: Spider-Gwen #15 is further proof of Jason Latour and Robbi Rodriguez continuing to deliver Marvel’s finest comic book month and month out. The story of this issue has a great balance between Gwen Stacy’s life in and out of her Spider-Woman adventures. The way Latour blends the two together works well in complimenting one another. Rodriguez further adds depth to the story by making characters like the Matt Murdock have a much more dangerous look to him compared to his Marvel Universe counter-part. If you aren’t reading Spider-Gwen right now I highly recommend changing that right now and catching up. It’s one Marvel series that you shouldn’t miss out on reading.