Spider-fans have always loved Peter Parker’s various and sundry girlfriends, although they do tend to die and get abused, which is what happened to Gwen Stacy, who died when she was thrown off the George Washington Bridge in Amazing Spider-Man #121. Of course, she’s been brought back several times, she was alive in the Ultimate universe and she was Peter’s girlfriend in those horrible Amazing Spider-Man movies, and now, she’s back again. Sort of. In an alternate universe where Peter Parker was killed and Gwen was bitten by the radioactive spider. It’s something right out of a What If? comic, but let’s see what happens to Gwendy as she becomes the amazing Spider-Gwen.
Following the end of the Spider-Verse storyline (review here), Gwen comes back to her city and laments that nobody loves her like they do Peter Porker, the Sporktacular Spider-Ham. Granted, she has some groupies but she also has enemies like the Vulture who wants her dead. He drops Officer Ben Grimm off a building, breaking almost every bone in his body, to get her attention and Captain Frank Castle does his best to figure out who is responsible. But who is really behind it all and can Gwen finally get recognition for her hard work fighting crime?
There are a couple of funny easter eggs, like where Gwen returns a stolen cash register, hoping to get a reward and is told “adventure is your reward”, a call-back to the old 1967 Spider-Man cartoon theme song. There’s actually a couple of different takes on that song throughout.
Mary Jane Watson is lead singer for a group called the Mary Janes, for whom Gwen used to be the drummer before she quit. Of course, you have to have the rival band, run by Felicia Hardy, called, naturally, the Black Cats. Yes, they’re playing the Jem and the Holograms thing too. There are all kinds of in-jokes but none of it feels forced. Spider-Man was always known for his quick wit and mighty quips, Spider-Gwen is continuing that on her own.
It really is a fun book, not too serious but not too silly, even the parts that had hallucinatory Spider-Ham in them. You get to see a lot of alternate takes on various characters, the aforementioned Punisher, who is a police captain chief among them. Oh, and Uncle Ben is still alive. It has a lot of the old Spidey vibe from way back when, something that I think they tried to get back with Ultimate Spider-Man, but we can always do with more. Other than starting in the middle of a story, like I said, this started out in the Spider-Verse, I thought this was a fantastic comic and I’m certainly on board for as long as they’re going to make it.