Spider-Gwen has quietly built itself up as one of Marvel’s strongest comic book. Jason Latour and Robbi Rodriguez have been playing the long game with this series as the war between Spider-Gwen and Kingpin, Matt Murdock, has raged on. The war between the characters has led Gwen to go down the road where she has now transformed into the Symbiote Spider-Woman. The consequences of this transformation have yet to fully play out but now with Spider-Gwen #26 we will start to see what they are. With how much has already happened in Gwen’s life prior to this new Symbiote arc, from her father’s current condition and personal life failings, things should only get more difficult for the young Gwen Stacy. Let’s see how things go with Spider-Gwen #26.
Writer: Jason Latour
Artist: Robbi Rodriguez
Colorist: Rico Renzi
Story Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 6.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: While Gwen is at the grocery store the Bodega Bandit robs the cashier and leaves. Gwen walks out without doing anything.
A little later Spider-Woman finds Bodega Bandit and knocks him down. Spider-Woman uses her new symbiote appearance to intimidate Bodega Bandit. Before she can do anything extreme Spider-Woman notices a “Have you seen our friend? flyer on a lamp post with Gwen’s picture on it and decides to leave.
The next day Captain DeWolff tries to get some answers from the cashier but he says he won’t tell anything to cops who can’t defend their own, Captain George Stacy.
Outside Captain DewWolff notices the flyer with Gwen on it and tells her partner to look into it for her.
At Reed Richards place, Reed tells Gwen that he isn’t sure about helping her get into a SHIELD facility, even though it would be fun for him to get one over on Tony Stark. Gwen tells Reed that she needs to speak with Cindy Moon because she owes Gwen something.
Later that night Spider-Woman uses her symbiote costume to cloak herself and get into the SHIELD facility Cindy is being held.
After taking out some guards she is able to get into Cindy’s prison cell. Cindy is not surprised to see Gwen using the symbiote. Spider-Woman grabs Cindy and throws her down while saying that Cindy ruined her life and she wants to know why.
Cindy laughs and says she is surprised Gwen isn’t asking how to defeat Matt Murdock. Cindy goes over how she wasted half her life trying to recreate the spider-bite event from her younger years only for Gwen to get to be lucky to get bitten and the spider powers.
Spider-Woman throws Cindy against the wall not liking to hear that her life was all about luck. Cindy recovers and says that everything Gwen has gone through as Spider-Woman isn’t because of some grand design or to be prepared for an alien invasion. She goes on to say that the further Gwen gives into her own hatred the easier it will be for Matt to control her. Spider-Woman walks away while Cindy says Gwen could walk away and not have anything to fear if she wanted.
Spider-Woman is confronted by SHIELD agents and she quickly takes them all out with her symbiote suit.
At the MJs apartment Em Jay, Glory and Betty argue about what they should do to track down Gwen’s whereabouts. They are suddenly visited by Ben and May Parker, who are holding the missing flyer.
Back at the SHIELD facility Spider-Woman has taken out all the agents and finds Felicia Hardy’s cell. Gwen is surprised to see Felicia being held by SHIELD.
Before she can get any answers Reed tells Gwen to go through his portal as things have become too dangerous there. As Spider-Woman leaves Felicia mentions that Matt holds all the cards even if no one knows it.
In the SHIELD Helicarrier Falcon gets annoyed he isn’t allowed to do anything but be the man in the chair. Director Peggy Carter allows Falcon to watch some PPV wrestling while she deals with some Thor Frogs (Throgs).
When Director Carter leaves Falcon sends a message to Captain America that Gwen is missing.
Back at the SHIELD facility Captain America finds SHIELD agents taken out and messages Falcon back that she is on the case. End of issue.
The Good: Spider-Gwen #26 continues to develop this new world with Gwen now in control of the symbiote costume. Much like the previous issue, this set-up goes a long way into setting up Gwen and her supporting casts current status quo. Though that does come at the expense that we don’t get a lot of forward movement in the story.
What Jason Latour continues to nail in Spider-Gwen #26 is the battle within Gwen’s own head now that she has the symbiote. Latour is not sugar coating how the symbiote is feeding into the hatred and depression Gwen is feeling and amplifying it with each moment that passes. Seeing how that translates towards the aggression Gwen shows towards Bodega Bandit and Cindy Moon.
That aggression that Gwen shows is nicely balanced out by the brief glimpses at her original persona when she sees the missing poster of herself. That short instance helped put an end to the Bodega Bandit scene and feed into when Cindy and Felicia brought her original self out. Seeing how when Gwen was in control of herself that the Symbiote was beginning to leave her is a good set-up to how she may regain who she is. It also worked to establish what the possible weakness of this version the Symbiote and how it will work differently for Gwen to get rid of it from the main universe version where its weakness was sound.
This status quo for Gwen was also able to give more time to develop this version of Cindy Moon’s character. Up to this point we have been shown Cindy more as a second-in-command type for Matt’s organization. Though Spider-Gwen #26 doesn’t do away with that we do get more insight into what her motivations are. Cindy’s speech to Gwen also seems to indicate that she has her own motives for messing with Gwen as there is a greater hatred for the spider did not bite her. Where exactly Latour goes with this sub-plot will be interesting to see.
Robbi Rodriguez’s artwork continues to be a highlight for this series. While there were a few instances that character faces didn’t look great the general tone continues to be nailed. With Gwen going more involved with the dark side now that she has the Symbiote suit Rodriguez did a good job giving his own Spider-Gwen spin on the costume. The design worked to show how alive it is as the costume goes wild whenever Gwen’s anger got the best of her.
The Bad: There isn’t a lot of forward progress in Spider-Gwen #26. Without Matt Murdock being physically present there was a big missing piece to the entire story. And since Matt didn’t appear in any way the scene between Gwen and Cindy didn’t have that much weight. Even Cindy referencing Matt more would’ve made things more tense. This made Felicia Hardy mentioning Matt presence feel like a late addition to the story since he was largely forgotten.
Bringing in Captain America and Falcon into the story also did not have the impact Latour was probably looking for. These two character have not been presented as the most interesting characters in this Marvel Universe, especially Falcon. It would’ve been more effective if we saw Wolverine and Shadowcat return. Those two characters would’ve given a greater sense of urgency to Spider-Woman trying to stay in the shadows as they are both very dangerous characters to come after her. Captain America and Falcon just aren’t on that level, especially since we haven’t seen a great connection between them and Gwen up to this point.
Similarly, the scene with Jean DeWolff and her partner fell flat. After how much time we have spent looking at what DeWolff and the NYPD thought about the case with George Stacy it was hard to feel bad for them. Which is the opposite from what Latour wanted since he set it up for us to feel bad for the NYPD dealing with this wall from the fallout of what Matt did to Captain Stacy. There will need to be more rebuilding for this sub-plot to make us care since Captain Stacy is not there to anchor the NYPD part of the equation down anymore and I’m not sure DeWolff is the character to be that new anchor.
Overall: Spider-Gwen #26 is a solid issue that further establishes who Gwen is now as a Symbiote version of Spider-Woman. Jason Latour did a good job showing us what the Symbiote is doing to Gwen and developing her rivalry with Cindy Moon further. That said, the rest of the issue fell flat with the Matt Murdock, NYPD and MJs part of the story feeling like it stood still. There will need to be a better balance between all these sub-plots. If that happens it will only benefit this Symbiote arc that Spider-Gwen is going through.