Thursday, 16 June 2016

Radioactive Spider-Gwen Vol 1: Greater Power by Jason Latour

Radioactive Spider-Gwen Vol 1: Greater Power written by Jason Latour and (mostly) illustrated by Robbi Rodriguez is the first volume of post-Secret Wars Spider-Gwen, and follows on from the pre-Secret Wars Vol 0 of (non-radioactive) Spider-Gwen. This new volume contains issues #1–6 and a single complete story arc.

Gwen Stacy is back in the webs and has an all-new, all-different mystery to solve: the reappearance of the Lizard! The Spider-Woman of Earth-65 was convinced that the Lizard died in her arms along with Peter Parker. But a new reptilian rampage leaves her with doubts not only about Peter's life, but his death as well. Troubles begin to mount as the Osborns of Gwen's world make their debut, and she finds herself on S.H.I.E.L.D.'s most wanted list! Perhaps some wise words from a mentor figure could help - how about Jessica Drew, the Spider-Woman of Earth-616? What lessons about power and responsibility will Jess have to share, and what use will they be when Gwen battles the Goblins?

I have to admit, I was a bit sceptical of this volume going in. I liked but didn't love Vol 0 and the blurb for this one made it sound like it would be continuing to centre Peter Parker in what should be Gwen's story. I was pleasantly surprised. Although the spectre of Peter Parker does loom large in this volume, it mostly does so for people other than Gwen. Harry Osborne, and to a lesser extent SHIELD and the police, are the ones who have not moved on from Parker's death. Which doesn't mean they're making life easier for Gwen, since they blame her alter-ego for it.

My favourite thing about this volume was the new info we got on how SHIELD and other superheroes work in this alternate universe. We already knew from Vol 0 that Matt Murdock was not above board, but now we get to learn about Captain America and the director of SHIELD. Minor spoilers to follow...

The BEST THING about Gwen Stacey's universe is that Peggy Carter is the director of SHIELD — with an eye patch and everything! A close second best thing is that Captain America is not Steve Rogers, but a black woman called Sam. How did no one tell me about this before I read it??? The only slight downside about Cap is that Falcon, who is a teenager in this place and time, is still called Sam, which could get confusing. But he has an entertaining role to play too, even if it's less major than Cap's and Peggy's roles.

I also quite liked the plot of this volume. To loosely summarise, it ends with Gwen coming up against  the Green Goblin and doing a much better job of it than any versions of Spidey that I've seen (which is mainly the movie ones and not all of them by any stretch of the imagination). Gwen also finds herself at odds with Cap and elements of SHIELD, a situation that needs to be resolved before she can move on. Oh, and there's a cameo from pregnant Spider-Woman in one of the issues, which was amusing even if the corresponding Spider-Woman trade has yet to be released.

This was a great comic, much more interesting and enjoyable than the first Spider-Gwen trade. If you were feeling meh about the character or creative team after that volume, I recommend giving this trade a go anyway. Obviously, if you're already a fan of Spider-Gwen, why wouldn't you have already read this new volume? Go on! I am looking forward to grabbing the next trade when it becomes available.

5 / 5 stars

First published: May 2016, Marvel
Series: Spider-Gwen on-going series. The first volume of the second run (2015b), containing issues #1–6
Format read: Trade paperback
Source: Bought from All Star Comics, Melbourne

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