With Spider-Gwen’s growing popularity, being part of the Marvel Rising marketing and her upcoming role in the Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse movie there was no way Marvel would let her go too long without a new ongoing. Now not long after her previous ongoing came to an end she got a brand new series in the form of Spider-Gwen: Ghost Spider. From all the marketing it looks like Ghost Spider will be Spider-Gwen’s official superhero name going forward. While I’m excited to see how that transitions happens I enter this first issue with a bit of trepidation as the first story arc of this series will tie into the Spider-Geddon event. Since I’m not reading Spider-Geddon I wonder how friendly this issue will be for those not reading the Spider-Man event or are new readers. Let’s find by checking out with Spider-Gwen: Ghost Spider #1.
Writer: Seanan McGuire
Artist: Rosi Kampe
Colorist: Ian Herring
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: On Earth-65, while looking over the city Gwen Stacy reflects on how much can be learned from spiders.
She then puts on her Spider-Woman mask and starts swinging through the city. As she does Gwen remembers how fun it is to swing around.
Spider-Woman runs into someone getting robbed. The muggers are surprised to see Spider-Woman out of prison. Spider-Woman said she served her time and tells them to decide on what they’ll do next.
The muggers attack Spider-Woman. Spider-Woman easily webs two of the three muggers while the third gets away.
The woman she thanks Spider-Woman for saving her and cleaning the city from the Hand. Spider-Woman tells the woman to call the cops because she wants to go grab a burger.
While swinging through the city Spider-Woman spots Harry Osborn. Gwen changes back into her street clothes and rushes over to hug Harry. Harry offers to buy Gwen dinner.
At a diner Gwen reveals she’s been out of prison for 52 days and mentions how MJ and the others talked to her about full disclosure on everything. Gwen confess while she doesn’t like talking about it she has accepted that super powered people must face the consequences for their actions just like a normal person. She goes on to say that she is now trying to find a balance for where Spider-Woman ends and Gwen Stacy begins. Harry says that the city hasn’t been the same without her.
Gwen suddenly spots Spider-Ham across the street and says she has to go.
Spider-Woman meets up with Spider-Ham. Spider-Ham reveals that the Inheritors have returned and showed up in the main Marvel Universe. Spider-Ham then activates his dimensional teleporter.
While teleporting Spider-Woman experiences the visions of the Inheritors killing a version of Spider-Man. When she exits the portal Spider-Woman crashes in an alleyway.
Gwen changes into her street clothes and tries to find someone that can help her repair her teleporter. She spots an Oscorp flyer and begrudgingly decides to go there for help.
Changing back into her costume Spider-Woman arrives outside Oscorp. While scoping the place out she finds it looks like it has been abandoned for years.
Spider-Woman is suddenly attacked by a Red Goblin. The Red Goblin says that Spider-Woman is trespassing and throws multiple pumpkin bombs at her. As Spider-Woman gets frustrated by the costant bomb barrage Gwen’s Venom symbiote starts resurfacing.
Gwen is able to keep the Venom symbiote at bay. She then launches a counterattack against Red Goblin and webs her to her glider. As Spider-Woman is about to punch Red Goblin someone tells her to wait. Spider-Woman pulls her punch back, giving Red Goblin enough time to escape.
Peter Parker of that universe asks Spider-Woman what she is doing at Oscorp. Gwen figures that if there is a Peter Parker there must have been a Gwen Stacy who likely died in this unknown universe. Gwen takes off her mask and reveals her identity much to Peter’s surprise. End of issue.
The Good: Seanan McGuire does a good job in picking up where the previous volume of this series left off to kick things off in Spider-Gwen: Ghost Spider #1. While the tie-in to Spider-Geddon proves to be the weakness of this issue McGuire is largely able to avoid making things complicating. McGuire avoids that by making sure this issue emphasized what makes Gwen Stacy such a compelling character.
Opening things up with Gwen Stacy returning to New York City was the right call. With everything that happened with her stopping Matt Murdock, the Hand and going to prison Gwen needed a reset. Seeing how this issue we opened with Gwen’s return to NYC it gave the idea that she was giving herself a fresh start as Spider-Woman.
At the same time because of what that happened it was good to see Gwen still looking for what she should do next. It showed that Gwen can’t just simply go back to how things were before like nothing happened. Everyone knows that she is Spider-Woman now and that is a major change. Gwen questioning when she can be a normal person and when she is a superhero is a strong starting point for this series to launch from.
This showed that Spider-Gwen is a character that is evolving and will not just be reset with each new creative. Given that McGuire and Marvel are keeping Spider-Gwen in her own universe this emphasized how she is a unique position compared to Peter Parker and Miles Morales. And because she is keeping her established continuity it means that she must live with the rewards and consequences of her decisions.
McGuire did a good job establishing how Gwen does enjoy being Spider-Woman. While keeping her life a secret was affecting Gwen’s relationships when she is Spider-Woman gave her a purpose in her young life. Whether its small things like saving people from muggers or defeating villains, Gwen is now thanked because people know who the woman behind the Spider-Woman mask is.
At the same time this has also caused Gwen to question when she can turn off being a superhero. Because as great as it is to get the acclaim she still wants to live a normal life. That is something she can’t do right now because she does not know how to balance the two yet. And it was already difficult for her to balance her normal and superhero life before everyone knew. Now she has to decide if she can just walk around normally when her friends and the public know what Gwen is doing when she isn’t around.
Bringing in Harry Osborn to have Gwen address this was a good way to re-establish their friendship. With how Gwen feels she has others looking at her differently she needs someone to just be her friend. Positioning Harry in this way opens up the opportunity to explore what their friendship is like without a Peter Parker around.
While I did not care much for the Spider-Geddon tie-in part of Spider-Gwen: Ghost Spider #1 the ending did hook me. What made the ending with Gwen revealing her identity to the Peter Parker of the universe she ended up in was the fact that it does not look like this Peter looked like an older version from Earth-65. With Peter’s shock reaction it does seem like Gwen was right that this universe’s Gwen Stacy is dead or different somehow. That reaction alone provides plenty of interest in how their interaction will go in the next issue alone.
Rosi Kampe delivered some great looking artwork in Spider-Gwen: Ghost Spider #1. The artwork was clean and got across the how Gwen was much more cheerful as Spider-Woman than she was before. Kampe also was able to show how conflicted Gwen currently is through her expressions as she tries to find a balance in her life.
The Bad: As much as I enjoyed Spider-Gwen: Ghost Spider #1 the issue was faced with several problems. The biggest one is the fact it is not new reader friendly. The impact of Gwen Stacy’s current status quo on Earth-65 completely relies on the reader knowing what happened in the previous volume of Spider-Gwen. While fans of the previous volume will appreciate the continuity being kept it will lose readers since McGuire is vague about Gwen’s prison time and taking down the Hand. Future issues will need to fill in the holes or else this series will lose new readers coming into Spider-Gwen’s universe after her appearances in Marvel Rising and Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse.
Not filling in those holes made certain aspects of this issue not hit as they should have. It particularly hurt that McGuire was not able to show us the relationship Gwen has with her supporting cast. Without scenes with MJ, her father or other friends Gwen’s current status quo is tough to wrap your mind around.
It’s in these instances that showed the fact that half of the Spider-Gwen: Ghost Spider #1 being dedicated to the Spider-Geddon event hurt this issue the most. With only seven pages to dedicate to Gwen’s current status quo there was a feeling that McGuire ran out of time to set up the world she wanted to. The minimal page count was disappointing because the most interesting things that did happen in this issue involved the story told in Earth-65.
This forced tie-in to Spider-Geddon also makes it feel like readers need to spend $20 to actually understand what is going on with Spider-Gwen. That is not helpful for a new monthly ongoing series that is looking to grow its audience. If Marvel wants to build goodwill with the reader for their ongoings they need to stop this because it will be a major turn-off to most readers who are on a budget. And as McGuire proved in the first seven pages of Spider-Gwen: Ghost Spider #1 this Spider-Geddon was not needed to create interest in this new series.
Making the Spider-Geddon tie-in worse was the fact that there was absolutely no personality to the new Goblin that Spider-Gwen went up against. The only personality to speak of with this new Goblin was that she couldn’t stop smiling. Outside of that the Goblin Spider-Gwen fights is even plainer than vanilla ice cream. For this first story arc to succeed McGuire will need to add depth to this new Goblin to make the Spider-Geddon tie-in feel worth all the trouble.
It was also odd that even though Ghost Spider seems to be the new name Marvel is having Spider-Gwen go by there was no mention of the new superhero identity. McGuire didn’t even tease Gwen changing her superhero name. Gwen just seemed perfectly fine continuing to be the Spider-Woman of Earth-65. And since she isn’t going through a costume change or is unhappy with the name it doesn’t make sense she would want to go by anything other than Spider-Woman.
Overall: Spider-Gwen: Ghost Spider #1 is a comic that would’ve been great if Marvel didn’t force it to be tied into one of their big events. From the story Seanan McGuire created in the first seven pages of this issue there is a lot to be compelled about Spider-Gwen’s current status quo. Unfortunately the unnecessary Spider-Geddon tie-in hurt Spider-Gwen: Ghost Spider launch issue. Because of that it is tough to recommend this comic to anyone except those reading the Spider-Geddon event.