Monday, 3 August 2015

Spider-Woman Vol 1: Spider-Verse by Dennis Hopeless

Spider-Woman Vol 1: Spider-Verse written by Dennis Hopeless and illustrated by Greg Land contains issues #1-4 of the latest (Marvel Now) Spider-Woman comics and an origin story issue from 1971 to bulk it out. I previously posted a short review of Issue #1.

Jessica Drew has been an agent of both S.H.I.E.L.D. and S.W.O.R.D., an Avenger and so much more. But nothing could prepare her for the multidimensional insanity that is Spider-Verse! A war is brewing, and every spider-character in the multiverse is a target! But being a target is something Jessica Drew just won't abide. She's a woman with a mission - and with Silk, the newest spider on the block at her side, she'll need to put all her training to the test if she wants to make it out of Spider-Verse alive! Now, undercover in the most dangerous place in the multiverse, Spider-Woman is in the tightest spot she's ever been in. What if even succeeding with her mission means her death? And can Silk handle a solo mission?

I feel a bit bad for Spider-Woman on this run because it's very much squeezed between two events (if you consider that Vol 2 leads into Last Days). This volume deals with some of Spider-Woman's adventures during the Spider-Verse event, which also involve Silk (pictured on the cover), Spider-Gwen (who is great) and Spider-Girl (Anya, briefly). The Spider-Verse event (which I thought was explained sufficiently within the comic — a nice change) centres around a bunch of bad guys who want to eat all the spider-people. It kind of reminded me of the Family of Blood from Doctor Who. The story in this volume starts of focusing on Spider-Woman and other protecting Silk, who seems to strongly attract bad guys. The mission takes them across universes and past doppelgängers until the day is more or less saved (something which obviously involves story lines in other books) and the event winds up.

The fourth issue winds up the most recent chapter of Jessica Drew's life and sets her up to get a new costume (spoiler) in the following issue, which will be in Volume 2. It was a one-shot story involving Carol Danvers and Steve Rogers (Captains Marvel and America) a small bad to fight, and of course many quips.

The last issue, from 1971, which was bundled into this volume, tells yet another origin story of Spider-Woman. Honestly, it's not that terrible, although it is that ridiculous. It starts with Spider-Woman as a Hydra agent and,via an encounter with Nick Fury (disappointingly white), ends with her questioning everything she'd been lead to believe. It was a bit melodramatic, but on the scale of weird old comics I've read, really not as offensive as it could've been. But overall, meh.

It's interesting to see that Spider-Woman's costume hasn't changed since the 70s (except for maybe her hair) and that makes her recent update all the more exciting. Her costume isn't the worst ever since it at least covers her, but it does tend to be drawn with unrealistically clingy fabric. And so, while I enjoyed the story in this volume, there were a few slightly icky art moments. Nothing too egregious, but boobs that were too big — which bothered me most on Spider-Gwen, for whatever reason — and a few weird poses. This is the series that had the particularly anatomically incorrect cover for issue #1, so perhaps I shouldn't be too surprised. It's disappointing, but on the other hand, I was pleased to see that cover wasn't included in the cover gallery at the back or anywhere else in the volume.

I am looking forward to the next volume of Spider-Woman (out next year :-/ ) and I enjoyed this volume. I'm not sure whether I would recommend it to readers who aren't already fans of Spider-Woman or Silk (or at a stretch Spider-Gwen). I don't think it stands alone that well and I suspect the next volume will actually be a better jumping on point (although I say that without having read any of it). On the other hand, this made me even more eager to read Spider-Gwen (I'm waiting for the trade) and has also made me interested in Silk, about whom I didn't know much before.

4 / 5 stars

First published: June 2015, Marvel Comics
Series: Spider-Woman ongoing series. Volume 1, contains issues #1-4 (and an issue from 1971)
Format read: Trade paperback
Source: Real life book shop!

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