As the comic book industry starts their comeback Marvel is starting by rolling out several comic books that they were publishing to stores and switching them to be digital-only exclusives. One of the titles that has been switched over to this new digital-only model is Ghost-Spider. This is a series that, like Spider-Gwen that preceded it, has been a title I’ve been championing since it began. I have been impressed by Seanan McGuire’s ability to take over this series and transition the character into becoming known as Ghost-Spider, the superhero name Marvel has been trying to push this version of Gwen Stacy as being known as. With McGuire getting deeper into her run on Ghost-Spider we have seen how she is starting to further develop Earth-65 by exploring this universe’s version of Sue and Johnny Storm. What plans does McGuire have in store for the Storm siblings and their relation to Ghost-Spider? Let’s find out with Ghost-Spider #9.
Writer: Seanan McGuire
Artist: Ig Guara
Colorist: Ian Herring
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Gwen Stacy watches the video Sue and Johnny Storm uploaded to social media asking Ghost-Spider to do a superhero team-up with them. Gwen questions if she should take the offer given how she put her hero-for-hire work on pause to focus on school.
Seeing that her clothes are shredded Gwen convinces the symbiote to give her regular clothes by offering to eat a cheeseburger and fries later. The symbiote gives Gwen normal clothes. After Gwen walks out of her room some symbiote spiders are shown on her door.
As Gwen is getting some breakfast her dad, George Stacy, talks to her how dangerous going into the fire the previous night was. Gwen reminds her dad that his job isn’t safe either. This ends up putting them in a big back-and-forth that gets so heated that Gwen transforms into the Venom version of her Ghost-Spider costume.
George quickly calms the situation by saying he isn’t trying to stop Gwen from being Ghost-Spider. As Gwen returns to normal George wonders why his daughter brought up him retiring in the first place.
Gwen explains what is going on with the Kamala Law over on Earth-616 and how Peter Parker offered to sponsor her. George says he can understand where the Kamala Law is coming from as he imagines Kamala Khan’s parents were frighten by the fact their daughter was hurt when they didn’t know she was a superhero.
He goes on to say that Gwen being a superhero isn’t the life he imagined for her. Gwen agrees but reminds her dad if they play this “What if….” Game a lot of events like the Rhino’s attack or Matt Murdock as the Kingpin would’ve gone down a lot more different. Gwen says they both have to do their parts and mentions going to check up on Bodega Bandit.
While swinging through the city Gwen gets a call from Betty Brant to let her know that their hero-for-hire website has blown up since the Storm siblings video.
Hearing this Gwen thinks that she needs to find out what the Storms really want. To that end Gwen decides to create a social media account for Ghost-Spider and immediately films a video to post.
After filming she thinks of what Betty and MJ would think of what she is doing but then thinks how she is doing it all to help people.
Eventually Ghost-Spider arrives at Bodega Bandit’s hospital room. Ghost-Spider tells Bodega Bandit that the guys that shot him are in prison now. Bodega Bandit asks if the police found his hamster, though he doubts they are trying. Ghost-Spider says that she is going to find him and that he should focus on getting better so he can return to being her nemesis.
Later, while swinging through the city, Ghost-Spider gets another alert on her phone. When she checks it out she finds a video from the Storm siblings talking about how excited they are to team-up with her.
At the Storm’s family home Sue tells Johnny to tone it done with sounding overly excited. Johnny tells Sue that she may also want to tone down her “girl power” wording. After getting into it a bit more Johnny asks Sue what they should do about their mom. Sue says she can move the body and asks Johnny if he feels like burning something. Johnny happily says yes as Sue floats their mom’s body into the kitchen.
Elsewhere Ghost-Spider goes back and forth thinking if teaming with the Storms a good idea is or not. Suddenly her spider-sense goes off as Sue and Johnny storm appear out of nowhere. Ghost-Spider mentions that Johnny’s fire is causing her spider-sense to go off, which is shown when her suit becomes the Venom version. Sue gets it and has Johnny float a little further back.
Ghost-Spider then asks why Sue and Johnny wanted to team up with her. Sue says that since they’ve been gone for years that they want someone to show them the ropes. Ghost-Spider mentions that since Vulture and Matt Murdock are in jail there aren’t any supervillains to fight, all they can do is go on nightly patrol.
Ghost-Spider says she usually can find crime going down easily which excites Johnny. When Ghost-Spider calls Johnny “Mr. Storm” he gets offended saying his dad was Doctor Storm. Sue mentions that she and Johnny don’t have a good history with doctors.
It is then shown that Sue and Johnny meet a cloaked figure (possibly Earth-65 Doctor Doom) sometime in the past.
Back in the present Ghost-Spider apologizes from bringing doctors up. Johnny says that he just wants to get to fighting crime.
As they patrol the city Ghost-Spider asks the Storms where they got their power. Sue avoids the question and Ghost-Spider puts a raincheck on that.
When they have some distance from Ghost-Spider Johnny whispers to his sister how Ghost-Spider is asking a lot of questions. Sue says that with their looks Ghost-Spider’s questions won’t matter.
Ghost-Spider finds what looks to be an illegal drug deal going down at the docks. She leads the Storm siblings in stopping the gangs doing the illegal drug deal. They are able to knockout all the gang members and Ghost-Spider says now they can call the cops. Ghost-Spider compliments the Storm siblings. As they leave Sue tells Ghost-Spider to DM her later.
Alone, Gwen reflects on how Sue and Johnny are a lot nicer than she thought they would be. End of issue.
The Good: With how much time we have spent in the main Marvel Universe, Earth-616, it was refreshing to get a story that took place all on Earth-65. While Ghost-Spider #9 does tie into the “Outlawed” storyline taking place over on Earth-616 it is not the main storyline of this issue. In going with this direction Seanan McGuire was able to ensure both the story she was aiming to tell on Earth-65 and the “Outlawed” tie-in complimented each other.
That is where I was most impressed by Ghost-Spider #9. The entire issue had a nice flow as McGuire juggled several storylines throughout this issue. We have the previously mentioned “Outlawed” tie-in with the discussion between Gwen and her dad. But then there is also the story of Gwen’s relationship with her Mary Janes bandmates, the Venom symbiote Gwen is using, her hero-for-hire work, Bodega Bandit’s whole situation and now this introduction of Earth-65 Sue and Johnny Storm. McGuire does a good job balancing out all these storylines and giving them the appropriate amount of time without any of them getting overshadowed.
One of the reasons the “Outlawed” tie-in worked in Ghost-Spider #9 was how it tied into the bigger storyline around the Venom symbiote Gwen is using as a superhero. McGuire has been able to slowly show us the different ways the symbiote has affected Gwen, both in the good and bad columns. With how iconic the “Black Suit Saga” is in Spider-Man’s history it is a smart move to do the long play when it comes to Ghost-Spider version of the story. We already saw the extremes of the symbiote back in Latour and Rodriguez’s Spider-Gwen series. Now with McGuire she has reset the symbiote and is taking her time showing signs of the symbiotes effects on the way Gwen acts.
Integrating George Stacy into this portion of Ghost-Spider #9 elevated both the “Outlawed” tie-in and symbiote storyline. The fear in George’s eyes when he saw Gwen transformed into her Gwenom form added to how terrifying it is when the symbiote takes over. You can see how Gwen losing control of her emotions can risk a bigger, darker event going down. Where exactly things go the further the symbiote story is developed will be fascinating to see play out.
George being able to calm Gwen down was also strong set-up for the serious talk they both got into over the Kamala’s Law. The discussion Gwen and George Stacy had was by far the best development of the whole Outlawed direction thus far. McGuire treated both sides of the argument for and against Kamala’s Law with respect. You can see where both Gwen and George were coming from with the sides they took. This is the best way to put over a direction like Outlawed is trying to push with Kamala’s Law. The writing for this scene helped strengthen the argument Peter and Gwen got over this topic with McGuire opening the door to re-explore Peter as Spider-Man sponsoring heroes like Gwen, Miles Morales and others in a positive light.
Ghost-Spider #9 was also able to continue the struggle Gwen has been having with balancing her life in her own universe. We saw that once again with how Gwen is still not sure about her hero-for-hire business. Having her think about both Betty Brant and MJ Watson was a nice touch of keeping her supporting cast around. With her previous discussion with her dad it is clear she still has dreams of being a Rockstar with her Mary Janes bandmates. The difficulty is that she also wants to stay an active superhero as Ghost-Spider. Balancing her band, school and Ghost-Spider life is clearly pushing Gwen in a lot of directions. Where McGuire goes with this as the rest of her supporting cast gets back into the fold will be interesting to see.
The whole plotline with Sue and Johnny Storm took the best direction it could as McGuire is introducing more classic Fantastic Four elements with an Earth-65 twist. Both Sue and Johnny are clearly famed obsessed and their experience with how they got their powers only elevated that fact in the worst possible way. Seeing how they killed their own mother with pure joy on their faces made it clear that they will become villains as the story develops. That is honestly something Ghost-Spider needs because since there aren’t any major threats on Earth-65 beyond Man-Wolf for Gwen to be constantly active as a normal superhero.
Continuing to build the mystery of Sue and Johnny Storm’s power to now be possibly connected to the Earth-65 version of Doctor Doom is a smart play. Especially since we know on Earth-65 that Reed Richards is not friends with Sue and Johnny adding in Doctor Doom to the mix adds an element of familiarity that can still diverge in its own unique way. And given that McGuire continues to have Gwen bring up Reed Richards in this story it won’t be surprising if we see a new spin on the iconic Fantastic Four the further we get into this story arc.
It was also good to see that McGuire is still keeping Bodega Bandit around. The character has been a fun antagonist for Gwen to go up against throughout her superhero career. McGuire adds a level of respect in their relationship as we do see that Gwen does care for Bodega Bandit as her “nemesis.” She knows the guy is an extremely low-level bad guy who hasn’t caught a break. Where exactly McGuire plans to go with the direction of Bodega Bandit’s character will be interesting to see.
Ig Guara delivered solid artwork throughout Ghost-Spider #9. Guara taps into the grounded nature of Earth-65 that has been established to have a more street-level tone. His artwork is at its best when showing the expression on Gwen’s face in and out of her Ghost-Spider costume. The best moment of that is in the transformation to Gwenom. Guara captures how terrifying that version of the character is when the symbiote fully takes over.
The Bad: As enjoyable as Ghost-Spider #9 is McGuire’s story is its own worst enemy on one major point for this series. And that is the fact that we haven’t spent a lot of time on Earth-65 since Gwen transitioned from being Spider-Woman to Ghost-Spider. The lack of time spent on Earth-65 has made this Marvel Universe weaker because there is a limited of characters that we have gotten to know. And even characters like Mary Jane Watson, Betty Brant and Captain America have had little physical presence in this Ghost-Spider series.
But more detrimental to this series is the lack of villains. Outside of Man-Wolf there haven’t been a lot of villains that are currently active on Earth-65 with Matt Murdock, Punisher and Vulture out of commission. Ghost-Spider will be a much stronger series if we see the villains on Earth-65 is firmly established. The possibility of Sue and Johnny Storm as villains and the introduction of Doctor Doom could go a long way in fixing that problem. There is to large of a power vacuum on Earth-65 that these and other iconic characters that could fill that role in new, exciting ways.
Overall: Ghost-Spider #9 is the strongest issue of this series to date. Seanan McGuire does a great job balancing out several ongoing storylines that Gwen Stacy is involved in. The continued development of the Earth-65 versions of Sue and Johnny Storm has been a major factor in the success of this latest Ghost-Spider story arc. Hopefully a sign of greater developments will be taking place on Earth-65 after so much time in this series was spent on the prime Marvel Universe.
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