In the Marvel Multiverse, Gwen Stacey receives great power from a spider bite on a parallel Earth. After meeting other Spider super heroes from across the multiverse, Spider-Gwen #3 follows Gwen Stacey’s adventures, and offers:
- Action oriented artwork
- Characters that show their values and take action
- Themes of corrupted or abused power
Movement in Spider-Gwen is effective, and colours are used to build up an atmosphere
for the villains. A close point of view intensifies action scenes.
Force and movement are depicted strongly here, with every swing and punch thrown having palpable effect on the characters and objects in the panel. There’s great attention to the effects of opposing forces.
All the villains of the comic are associated with a deadly, yellow and green shade that first emanates from the Vulture’s toxic gas canisters, and carries over into the wide, empty goggles of Police Captain Frank Castle’s gas mask.
The position of the readers view into the comics moves from a first person perspective, through Spider-Gwen’s eyes, to mid shots, and then slowly out to wider shots. These large scale moments are saved for quiet, more reflective points in the story.
Gwen, Captain Stacey, and Vulture receive the most attention in this comic. Gwen shows creativity and recklessness while Captain Stacey values staying connected. Vulture is just toxic.
Gwen is a highly creative person. She improvises weapons from bowling pins and a trophy collected from her family living room. She webs these disparate items into nunchucks. Her attack on the vulture slows down his rapid assault. Recklessness is her downfall here. Taking on Frank Castle after the Vulture comes with a serious price – her secret identity may have been revealed.
An interesting point is that the Vulture begins talking about the Kingpin directly after Gwen’s bowling pin assault. The word “Kingpin” comes from a game in the same family of games as bowling, and bowls, called “Kayles”. Probably not intentional, but the scene does contain a play on words at some level.
Captain Stacey connects and stays close to the people he protects as a police captain. He insists on being in contact with people everyday. This is why he chooses to ride the subway on his daily commute. There’s some wisdom here: Stacey says “look someone in the eye, and you’ll see more than who they really are. You’ll learn who you are.” It’s difficult to understand since there are many interpretations. One interpretation: We need to others to relate to, speak to, and work with. Otherwise there is no gauge of who we are, what our limits are, and what our abilities are. It’s similar to the connectedness themes brought up in other Spiderman comics – Silk specifically.
Vulture’s costume has exhaust vents that expel toxic gasses everywhere he flies, granting him additional thrust when flying and cover. Vulture’s pollution makes him toxic to be around, in addition to his terrible ego.
A theme of abused or corrupted authority spins out of this comic. This clashes with Spider Gwen’s values, namely atonement, and taking responsibility. She returns to the Parker’s house for a moment of quiet and reflection.
There’s a scene early in the comic where Captain Stacy drops his gun and badge on the kitchen table when he arrives home. At the same time, he admits to Gwen that the Spider Woman case is “out of my hands”. There’s some wordplay with the comic images here, as Stacey admits to his lack of authority at the same time he puts down the symbols of that authority.
Frank Castle is a Police officer dressed in a blue shirt emblazoned with a giant white skull. Gwen comments he is holding “baby seal clubs”. The theme that spins out of these symbols is abused authority. Abused Power is another idea. Spider Gwen brings themes of responsibility and power along with other comics featuring spider powered super heroes. Spider Gwen appears to be examining what happens when power is corrupted or abused.
Gwen reacts recklessly because this abuse of power runs completely against her own values of fairness and atonement. When fighting Frank Castle, she rails against perverted newspaper writers and “jack-booted fascists”. Retreating to Peter Parker’s empty room – blacked out and quiet since Peter Parker passed away in this universe – Gwen reflects in silence. Her next move is a mystery.
It’s possible she returns to Parker’s room since her reason for becoming Spider Woman is to atone for being unable to prevent Peter’s death despite her abilities. It’s also possible that Peter’s Aunt and Uncle could help give her the direction and support she needs.
Spider-Gwen #3 is published by Marvel Comics ($3.99 USD). Jason Latour (W.) Robbi Rodriguez (A.) Rico Renzi (C.) VC’s Clayton Cowles (L.) Cover artwork by Robbi Rodriguez.