Comic Book Starter Guide: Spider-Gwen Journey To Ghost-Spider

Spider-Gwen Comic Book Starter Guide

Spider-Gwen has been one of Marvel’s biggest breakout stars in the last decade. From the moment she appeared in Edge of Spider-Verse #2 and then during the epic Spider-Verse, Spider-Gwen has captured Marvel fans interest. The fanbase for Spider-Gwen has only grown more thanks to the character’s appearance in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse movie. That movie cemented the character as a mainstream hit for Marvel. After having been around for just under six years there are a lot of comic books out there that have starred or at least heavily featured Spider-Gwen. To get to know where you should start understanding who Spider-Gwen is and where she currently is at we’ve put together this handy Comic Book Starter Guide.

EDGE OF SPIDER-VERSE: ORIGIN OF SPIDER-GWEN

Edge Of Spider-Verse 2 Cover

Click for full view for the cover of Edge Of Spider-Verse #2.

Issues: Edge Of Spider-Verse (2014) #2

Creative Team

Writer: Jason Latour

Artist: Robbi Rodriguez

Colorist: Rico Renzi

Like with any character you want to start as towards the beginning as possible. That’s where Edge of Spider-Verse #2 comes in and acts as the place where you get the origin story of Gwen Stacy of Earth 65 as Spider-Woman. The early parts of Gwen’s Spider-Woman career shared more similarities to the Ultimate Spider-Man version of Peter Parker’s origin as Spider-Man. The big difference with Spider-Gwen’s origin is that rather than her father, Detective George Stacy, or another family member being the big death in her life it turned out to be Earth-65’s Peter Parker. 

Tragically Earth-65 Peter Parker ended up becoming Earth-65’s version of Lizard due to constantly being bullied, with only Gwen defending him, and his desire to help Spider-Woman. Earth-65 Peter’s death taking place at the beginning of Gwen’s Spider-Woman career had large ramifications on her ongoing status quo. Immediately she was painted as being responsible for Peter’s death. This made her a target of the NYPD and other organizations right away.

Edge of Spider-Verse 2 Spider-Gwen Origin

The origin of Spider-Gwen is first revealed in Edge of Spider-Verse #2. Click for full page view.

Outside of that, Edge of Spider-Verse #2 also works in establishing the groundwork for the rest of Earth-65’s continuity. Jason Latour and Robbi Rodriguez took full advantage of Earth-65 being a completely new Marvel continuity to play with your expectations for many characters. While there are certainly the typical elements like George Stacy being part of the NYPD and J. Jonah Jameson’s anti-vigilante agenda, there were many things that were different. It all sets up for an intriguing foundation centered around Gwen Stacy that Latour and Rodriguez will go on to define their run on Spider-Gwen by.

THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN: SPIDER-VERSE

Amazing Spider-Man #13 Cover

Click for full view for the cover of Amazing Spider-Man #13.

Issues: The Amazing Spider-Man (2014 – 2015) #9 – #15

Creative Team

Writer: Dan Slott

Artist: Oliver Coipel

Inker: Wade Von Grawbadger

Colorist: Justin Ponsor

Dan Slott’s original Spider-Verse event that took place during his Amazing Spider-Man isn’t necessarily a Spider-Gwen event. But it does act as a big chapter in the early life of Spider-Gwen as she becomes directly involved with the Spider-Man Family of the Multiverse. It really is a test of how even as a new character Spider-Gwen was able to stand out in an event filled with Spider-Men and Spider-Women. It’s a test that Spider-Gwen passes as she does come across as someone that has the same stature as Peter Parker, Miles Morales, Jessica Drew, Mayday Parker, and other characters that have been around for a long time.

Amazing Spider-Man 14 Spider-Gwen Defeats Green Goblin Spider-Verse

Spider-Gwen defeats Green Goblin during the events of Spider-Verse in Amazing Spider-Man #14. Click for full page view.

Another reason for Spider-Verse’s importance to Spider-Gwen’s character are the connections it creates for her. As you’ll find when you dig deeper into the different comics and storylines Spider-Gwen has been involved in you’ll find they involve Marvel’s Multiverse. Beyond the 616-Peter Parker and -Miles Morales it is shown how Spider-Gwen starts to build connections with Spider-Man Noir, Spider-Ham, Jessica Drew’s Spider-Woman, and others. All these connections play key parts throughout Gwen’s Spider-Woman career.

SPIDER-GWEN: MOST WANTED

Spider-Gwen #1 Cover

Click for full view for cover of Spider-Gwen #1.

Issues: Spider-Gwen (2015) #1 – #5

Creative Team

Writer: Jason Latour

Artist: Robbi Rodriguez

Colorist: Rico Renzi

Where Edge of Spider-Verse #2 laid the foundation for Spider-Gwen’s Earth-65 the “Most Wanted” storyline that the Spider-Gwen series launched placed the pillars for Gwen Stacy’s world. Throughout this storyline we see how life is not easy for her as Gwen Stacy or Spider-Woman. 

As Gwen Stacy, we see her deal with the balancing act of her personal and superhero life. There is an immediate question about if she can be normal Gwen Stacy when not in costume. Because as Spider-Woman she feels proactive as she does help save people. Whereas with just trying to be a normal teenager there are many different aspects she is trying to juggle in trying to maintain her personal life. That becomes even more complicated with how Matt Murdock in particular is introduced as a villain, who will become the biggest thorn to Spider-Gwen’s side.

Spider-Gwen #3

George Stacy is established as one of Gwen Stacy’s supporting cast as shown in Spider-Gwen #3. Click for full page view.

Which brings a lot of interesting scenes with her dad, George Stacy, to the forefront. Jason Latour does a fantastic job having George Stacy be the person that helps ground Gwen when she needs it most. Especially when Ben and May Parker enter the picture and unknowingly remind Gwen of her role in Peter’s death, George is there to be the supportive father she needs. It all sets up how important of a character George is to the success of all Spider-Gwen’s solo comics.

Robbi Rodriguez’s artwork also gets as much credit for the success of Spider-Gwen as Latour. Rodriguez designs for the Earth-65 versions of the Marvel Universe adds to how you feel as though you are discovering these characters for the first time. The more horror take on Vulture and Punisher in particular really work well in starting to build Spider-Gwen’s rogues gallery as having a different dangerous aura around them than Earth-616 or the Ultimate Universe.

SPIDER-GWEN: GREATER POWER

Spider-Gwen #4 Cover

Click for full cover view of Spider-Gwen #4.

Issues: Spider-Gwen (2015 – 2018) #1 – #6

Creative Team

Writer: Jason Latour

Artist: Robbie Rodriguez and Chris Visions

Colorist: Rico Renzi

With the beginning of Spider-Gwen’s rise we saw a lot of time establishing who she is and how Earth-65 was a different universe. A lot of what we saw was surface level stuff. It was with the second volume of Spider-Gwen, which launched alongside the rest of the Marvel post-Secret Wars relaunch, that we dove deeper into Gwen’s backstory. In particular with Spider-Gwen: Greater Power, the first arc of the new series, we saw Jason Latour fully explore Gwen’s friendship with Peter Parker.

With the “Greater Power” arc Latour was able to establish Peter Parker of Earth-65 as an actual character with his own backstory rather than just relying on name value. We get an idea of why Peter’s death impacted Gwen even more than just the connection to Spider-Woman. They were honest friends even before Gwen became Spider-Woman.

Spider-Gwen #4 Green Goblin

Spider-Woman faces off against the Earth-65 version of Green Goblin in Spider-Gwen #4. Click for full page view.

That tied in nicely with how Harry Osborn was introduced into the Earth-65’s continuity. We saw how Gwen, Peter and Harry’s friendship was different. Also how Peter’s death impacted Harry made his story stand out more. Especially once you see how Latour lays the groundwork for what Gwen and Harry’s relationship will be whenever the latter pops up in this series in the future. That all led into the introduction of Green Goblin having a greater impact because of who that character was in relation to the Earth-65 continuity.

“Greater Power” also begins to open the door for how there is a greater Marvel Universe in the Earth-616 continuity beyond Spider-Gwen. There are a lot of things that are different in this universe. That includes things like the origin of Captain America as we see how one or two different actions taking place alters characters you know. Starting to establish those differences gave way for a greater exploration of Spider-Gwen’s own standing on Earth-65 as a whole.

SPIDER-GWEN: GWENOM

Spider-Gwen #29 Cover

Click for full view for the cover of Spider-Gwen #29.

Issues: Spider-Gwen (2015 – 2018) #24 – #34

Creative Team

Writer: Jason Latour

Artist: Robbi Rodriguez, Veronica Fish, Olivia Margraf

Colorist: Rico Renzi

The creative team of Jason Latour and Robbi Rodriguez have defined who Spider-Gwen is since she was created. In their nearly five-year run Latour and Rodriguez crafted a universe on Earth-65 that was unique and engaging. Spider-Gwen went through so many challenges as we saw her team-up and face off against many familiar faces that have been changed to match the Earth-65 setting. No character was more closely tied to Spider-Gwen than Matt Murdock, who on Earth-65 was the Kingpin. The “Gwenom” story arc that concluded Latour and Rodriguez’s run working on Spider-Gwen was the culmination of all these developments. 

The “Gwenom” story was Spider-Gwen’s version of Spider-Man’s Black Suit Saga. The big difference between what we saw Gwen go through compared to Peter Parker when it came to the Black Suit Saga was how Matt Murdock came into play. At every step of the way Matt Murdock was there to manipulate the situation to make life incredibly difficult for Gwen. That wasn’t helped by the fact that by this point Gwen had problems with her powers that the symbiote ended up solving. 

Spider-Gwen #32

Spider-Woman confronts her greatest villain, Matt Murdock, during Gwenom in Spider-Gwen #32. Click for full page view.

There was nothing held back in this story. “Gwenom” changed everything for Spider-Gwen as she went down a much different route from Peter Parker or Miles Morales. Pushed against a corner Gwen made the big decision that had Gwen reveal to the world that she was Spider-Woman. There was no erasing or going back in time with this decision. Gwen’s decision was permanent and how she got there set-up where you find the character today.

Through all of that Latour and Rodriguez did a great job having Gwen’s supporting cast from her father, George Stacy, to the Mary Janes play big roles throughout the “Gwenom” storyline. You see how important Gwen’s supporting cast is in the success of Spider-Gwen. The tough decisions Gwen is forced to make come across with greater importance because of how Spider-Gwen’s supporting cast factors in.

SPIDER-GWEN: IMPOSSIBLE YEAR

Spider-Gwen: Ghost-Spider #5 Cover

Click for full page view for the cover of Spider-Gwen: Ghost-Spider #5.

Issues: Spider-Gwen: Ghost-Spider (2018 – 2019) #5 – #10

Creative Team

Writer: Seanan McGuire

Artist: Takeshi Miyazawa and Rosi Kampe

Colorist: Ian Herring

It’s never an easy task to pick up on a character defining run like Latour and Rodriguez had on Spider-Gwen. But Seanan McGuire showed through Spider-Gwen: Ghost-Spider that she was ready to take Gwen Stacy into the next phase of her life. That next phase was not an easy one to enter into as the entire world of Earth-65 knows that Gwen Stacy is Spider-Woman. There is no going back to having a normal life like Gwen tried to have when balancing her personal and superhero life. 

That is what we see McGuire have Gwen deal with in the “Impossible Year” storyline. Fresh off being in prison and dealing with the Spider-Geddon event, Gwen is at a crossroads of her life. We see that she tries to maintain some sense of a normal life through her relationships with her band, the Mary Janes, and father. But even then there is the looming question of what is really next for Gwen. She doesn’t have many people she can turn to for advice on her current situation. In her own way Gwen goes through a “Spider-Woman No More” arc during this crossroad in her life.

Spider-Gwen Ghost-Spider #10

Spider-Gwen figures out the next step in her life with some help from Spider-Man in Spider-Gwen: Ghost-Spider #10. Click for full page view.

All of that makes how we finally get a meaningful interaction and team-up between Spider-Gwen and Peter Parker’s Spider-Man in the main Marvel Universe have greater impact. McGuire is able to use Peter in a way that he is able to act as a mentor for Gwen as she makes a big decision that defines her current status quo. 

Part of that decision is going with her own unique superhero identity of Ghost-Spider. That is the identity that Marvel has been marketing as Spider-Gwen’s superhero name for a while now. Having it be finally established in the comics is a big move in making it be the name she becomes known as in the future.


To comment on this article and other Comic Book Revolution content visit our Facebook page, Twitter feed and Instagram. You can catch up with all of Kevin’s thoughts about comics, anime, TV shows, movies and more over on Twitter. You can also watch the fun and silly videos Kevin is making over on his TikTok.