Since debuting back in the original Spider-Verse crossover event Spider-Gwen has had several solo series and main roles on other Spider-Man events and mini-series’. Through all of these comics Spider-Gwen’s solo series have been consistently one of Marvel’s best titles. With the recent series, Spider-Gwen: Ghost Spider, Seanan McGuire picked up the baton from Jason Latour and carried on the momentum for the character. So while Spider-Gwen is getting yet another relaunch title with Ghost-Spider I’m glad McGuire is sticking around as the writer. Now with Spider-Gwen joining the main Marvel Universe how will McGuire use what has been established with the character thus far? Let’s find out with Ghost-Spider #1.
Writer: Seana McGuire
Artist: Takeshi Miyazawa
Colorist: Ian Herring
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: On Earth-65 Mary Jane is not happy to hear that Gwen has enrolled at college on Earth-616 since Gwen has a hard enough time making it to practice as is. Gwen argues that she needs to get an education so she doesn’t rely on her dad forever. They go back and forth a bit more until Gwen finally decides to end the conversation by swinging away.
Gwen is disappointed that her friends weren’t more supportive but does not let that stop her from going through with being an exchange student in another universe.
As Ghost-Spider, Gwen activates a dimensional portal into Earth-616. Once she arrives she loses her powers and is able to grab onto a guard rail before she falls on the street. After catching her breathe so her powers return she swings over to Empire State Universe.
On campus Peter meets Gwen outside the Dean’s building. Peter mentions that he had Doctor Connors help him in getting an appointment with the Dean of Admissions.
After talking a bit more Peter introduces Gwen to the Dean of Admissions. The Dean is fully aware of Gwen being from another universe.
The Dean mentions that Tony Stark established a scholarship program for aliens, inter-dimensional travelers, clones, AI and other non-human students. She goes on to say Gwen can qualify to get that scholarship with the appropriate paperwork, which Gwen already filled out and hands over to the dean.
The Dean then questions Peter and Gwen how they met. They mention that Gwen happened to land on Peter when she stepped into a dimensional portal.
Over at the NYPD office on Earth-65 all of the cops welcome Captain George Stacy back with a surprise party. Captain Stacy tells his co-workers that with the stress of Gwen enrolling in college he wants he does not want any surprises.
Mayor J. Jonah Jameson shows up and immediately orders his son’s release by saying John was not in the right state of mind because of his Man-Wolf transformation. Captain Stacy brings up that Man-Wolf tried to kill his daughter. Mayor Jameson then shows Captain Stacy the judge’s orders for his son’s release.
Back on Earth-616, while swinging through the city Spider-Man asks Ghost-Spider if she is planning on only playing civilian while on Earth-616. Ghost-Spider says that is her plan since she still plans on patrolling her universe at night but won’t just walk away from a crime she sees while on Earth-616. Spider-Man jokes that there is crime all over the place and the superheroes aren’t possessive about who answers the call for help.
Just then a woman screams for help as she is being attacked by a giant rat. Spider-Man and Ghost-Spider team-up to quickly defeat the giant rat and web it up on a wall.
The mother and son thank Spider-Man and Ghost-Spider for saving them. The kid asks Ghost-Spider why her suit is so clean. Ghost-Spider shows the kid that her costume is made out of spiders, which makes the mother uncomfortable enough to leave with her son.
Once they are alone Spider-Man reveals he still has the spider she gave him from her suit alive. This surprises Ghost-Spider. Spider-Man reveals he has done so by feeding the spider constantly. Because of that he theorizes part of Ghost-Spider’s power problems is due to when her suit is unable to get the proper nutrients from what she eats it causes her powers to become unstable. With that said Gwen likely needs to eat even more than a normal hero since on top of the calories she burns from being Ghost Spider she is eating for two because of her suit. Spider-Man suggests that Gwen eat more things like celery since humans can’t digest cellulose but her suit of spiders can be nourished by it. At the same time Spider-Man warns Gwen not to let the relationship between her and her suit to tip into the suits favor when it comes to nutrition.
Spider-Man and Ghost-Spider then head back to ESU so Gwen can pick out her classes.
Back on campus Peter reminds Gwen that he won’t be able to escort her around everyday like he did today. She is fine with that as it would get annoying if he did that. She goes on to mention that he is not her Peter and she isn’t looking to be best friends with him, and throws in an old joke about him. This leads them to joke around about the difference between media in their universes.
Afterwards Gwen hands her class selection to the Dean. Peter tells Gwen she should get a cell phone that works on Earth-616 in case of emergencies.
Gwen then says she is going to go tell her dad that things went well and they part ways.
While Gwen is running through campus she accidentally bumps into Miles Warren. Though Gwen does not know who he is Miles immediately recognizes her. Miles says it was nice to run into her.
Back over on Earth-65 that universe’s Miles Warren is shown experimenting on one of the spiders from Ghost-Spider’s suit he captured. He states soon Ghost-Spider will belong to the Jackal. End of issue.
The Good: From the opening page of Ghost-Spider #1 Seanan McGuire sets a different for this series compared to the previous series, Spider-Gwen: Ghost Spider. The entire tone of this first issue carried the feeling of a fresh start for both Gwen Stacy and the fans. And after everything Gwen has been through, from Spider-Geddon to her events in her own universe, this is definitely what the character needed.
Right away McGuire establishes that Gwen’s new identity is Ghost-Spider. There is no longer waffling between the Spider-Woman and Ghost-Spider identity like in the previous volume. Gwen is now Ghost-Spider from this point forward. That is a good thing to establish since part of the reason why she has been called Spider-Gwen is because there are several versions of Spider-Woman running around. This includes Jessica Drew, who most fans recognize as being the iconic version of Spider-Woman.
Starting the first issue with Gwen fully going by the Ghost-Spider is an important thing to start to get fans away from always calling her Spider-Gwen. That is still what she is known as in the mainstream thanks to Into The Spider-Verse. But at least starting to implant in comic book fans minds that Gwen goes by Ghost-Spider is a strong first step into getting the name over. That will make it more accepting by general audiences once the Ghost-Spider name is used in Into The Spider-Verse 2 if there are already people who know that to be her superhero name.
That aside, McGuire writing for Gwen throughout Ghost-Spider #1 was the star of the show. This isn’t the same Gwen we have been seeing as her life hit a dark period. This is a much more free Gwen who now isn’t stressing about every decision or event happening in her life. Instead she is finally seeing a clear direction for her life as she has decided to enroll at Empire State Universe on the Earth-616 Universe. With that decision Gwen clearly feels back in control of her life as she looks to how this will help her future.
It’s a refreshing change of pace since we have seen Gwen understandably stressing out over everything that has happened in her personal and superhero life. We see that throughout her time on Earth-616. Even though, like most college students, Gwen isn’t sure exactly what future path to follow at least picking out classes is a good first step with her. From here she at least can have a path to walk on rather than just swinging around changing directions depending on where the wind is blowing that day.
McGuire directly addressing Gwen’s presence on Earth-616 helped in firmly establishing this new direction for the character. Rather than there being drama about Gwen either picking up a new identity McGuire bypasses all that. She does that by using the fact that everyone on Earth-616 is now accustomed to visitors from other worlds or universes. This is a great use of the current continuity as we know that the Earth’s population has been through things like Secret Invasion, Siege, World War Hulk and, most recently, War of the Realms. All these events have normalized things like a younger version of Gwen Stacy being able to enter the main Marvel Universe from another Earth.
Getting that out of the way immediately avoids having awkwardness around Gwen being on the ESU campus. There is still potential on some awkwardness with Gwen’s future interactions with Spider-Man’s supporting cast. But that is something that would happen off campus for Gwen. At the very least ESU could act as a safe haven, for the most part, for Gwen to just act like a student, something she hasn’t had since first becoming getting her powers.
To that point, McGuire does a great job carrying over the chemistry that Peter and Gwen built up in Spider-Gwen: Ghost Spider #10. What made their interaction stand out more was that neither Peter nor Gwen hid the fact they aren’t looking to be best friends with each other right away. They’ve both had traumatizing experiences with the Peter and Gwen of their respective universe that having a friendship that starts at arms length is understandable.
At the same time, McGuire shows that Peter and Gwen have a strong natural chemistry with each other. The two naturally bounce of each other. They are both characters that are all about throwing around witty banter. And that is exactly what they do while talking to each other.
That chemistry helped in creating a mentor-protege relationship between Peter and Gwen. This is a role Peter has never filled even though there are several Spider-Men and Spider-Women running around. McGuire does well in showing that even though he’s avoided the role Peter can be a natural mentor to others. His advice to Gwen as he helps her figure out how her symbiote suit works was great step in setting up this role up for Gwen.
For her part, it was clear that Gwen has need someone that she can turn to advice for as a superhero. For how much she has been through she’s only been in the superhero game for a few years. And in her universe she really hasn’t had a chance to interact with peers in her universe since most heroes on Earth-65 work in the shadows. Having someone like Peter to turn to will help continue to grow as Ghost-Spider.
With Gwen now being a part-timer in the Earth-616 Marvel Universe McGuire was smart to immediately use Miles Warren as the first big threat for Ghost-Spider. Miles Warren and his Jackal identity has been one of Spider-Man’s worst villains in his rogues gallery. There hasn’t been a standout appearance for Miles Warren since the original Clone Saga.
Now that can all change as Jackal can go from being the worst Spider-Man villain to the best Ghost-Spider villain. That still will all come down to how McGuire uses the Jackal from this point forward. But the potential is all there for Jackal to finally be developed as a proper villain who is a major threat in Ghost-Spider’s life.
While the main focus of Ghost-Spider #1 was on Gwen’s life on Earth-616 McGuire makes sure to keep Earth-65 as part of this series. That is an important identity to keep for this series since Gwen’s Earth-65 has become a character completely unique from other universes we’ve seen. This comes from the supporting cast Gwen has there.
We get a good look at that from the opening scene in Ghost-Spider #1. McGuire makes the entire interaction between Gwen and the Mary Janes band come across like sisters. Even though Gwen and Mary Jane getting into an intense argument it never went to the point that this was the end of their friendship. This was just one of their normal fights as Mary Jane tries to keep Gwen focused on the band while Gwen continues to act like a free spirit.
And while Gwen doesn’t interact with her dad, McGuire keeps Captain George Stacy as part of the focus of this series. Opening his arc up with him going back to work helped show that things on Earth-65 are continuing to move whether Gwen spends all her time on her universe or not. There are still ramifications to her superhero life, as we see Mayor Jameson get his son out of prison and free from being blamed for his actions as Man-Wolf. Where McGuire goes with this particular power struggle sub-plot for Captain Stacy will be interesting to see play out in the background.
Something that every Spider-Gwen series has had is a look that is not normally seen in the other Marvel books. Takeshi Miyazawa carries that tradition with his artwork throughout Ghost-Spider #1. There is a youthful aura around the entire series that matches the college setting that Gwen is now in at ESU. He nails all the character reactions that enhanced the dialogue. The small bit of action we get was also was a good tease how Miyazawa will draw action scenes in the future.
The Bad: One place where Ghost-Spider #1 stumbled was the use of the Miles Warren of both Earth-616 and Earth-65. As soon as McGuire did that there was an instant sense of confusion as to which Miles we saw Gwen interact with. So as much potential as there is in Jackal becoming a major threat it can all be derailed if McGuire isn’t careful about using two versions of Miles Warren.
Using two versions just unnecessarily complicates the story that is going to be told. With Ghost-Spider #1 being a comic that is supposed to bring in new readers this was the wrong choice to make. The story with Jackal should’ve been kept simple with just the Earth-616 Jackal being the main villain of this story given all the history that is already there.
Overall: Seanan McGuire does not waste time in properly integrating Spider-Gwen into the main Marvel Universe with Ghost-Spider #1. This issue builds a great chemistry between Gwen Stacy and Peter Parker drives Ghost-Spider #1 into being a strong debut issue. Along the way McGuire establishes several plotlines that will make this a series Spider-Gwen fans will want to make sure to be picking up.
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