Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Spider Woman: Shifting Gears Vol 1: Baby Talk by Dennis Hopeless and Javier Rodriguez

Spider Woman: Shifting Gears Vol 1: Baby Talk written by Dennis Hopeless and illustrated by Javier Rodriguez is another volume 1 following, chronologically Vol 2: New Duds, which I previously reviewed. Because randomly restarting numbering schemes is just so Marvel. Anyway, this is the volume with the pregnant Spider-Woman on the cover, and all five issues contained inside it deal with the one story arc of Jessica being (very) pregnant and then having a baby.

Jessica Drew is a private investigator, a super hero and...a mom-to-be? Since we last saw her, Spider-Woman's got a whole new responsibility -now she's adventuring for two! Ben Urich and Porcupine are still along for the ride -in fact, half the time they won't even let Jess leave the car! How's a gal supposed to save the day when her friends are being all overprotective? Then, Spider-Woman will be in over her head when she gets trapped in an alien hospital. Jess is no stranger to unusual circumstances, but getting held captive by Skrulls in the center of a black hole with a bunch of extraterrestrial moms-to-be might take the cake! Expectations won't be disappointed in the mother of all Spider-stories!

This was a strange read, not least because it started with an eight-month pregnant Spider-Woman and no explanation as to how or why. However, having gotten past the surprise — helped by the cover — the story takes us to interesting places. First Jessica Drew must deal with having to step back from her usual superhero PI work. Since her superpowers didn't vanish, she finds it hard to hold back because she can still beat up bad guys and the only thing stopping her is the risk to the baby if something more dire than petty criminals show up.

The story takes us through the boredom of pre-partum maternity leave, a requisite bit of action involving aliens and saving a bunch of other pregnant people, then a look at Spider-Woman's life as a mother. I enjoyed the middle part of the story the most — the action and the butt-kicking while pregnant. Overall, I thought this volume raised some interesting issues regarding motherhood, friendship, work and the sense of self. That said, the ending was a little sudden and did not follow through on some of the subversive ideas that were being built up earlier on.

Nevertheless, this was a fun read and I recommend it to fans of Spider-Woman. The pregnancy is dealt with better than I expected and we do find out why/how she got pregnant in the end. (We don't find out why everyone expects the baby to be a normal human though...) Spider-Woman has had some crappy storylines and this one is not so bad, even if it was unexpected when it launched.

4 / 5 stars

First published: 2016, Marvel
Series: Spider-Woman, ongoing series. The start of a reboot which still follows the previous continuity
Format read: Trade paperback
Source: Purchased from All Star Comics in Melbourne

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