The phrase “cross-title event” doesn’t get me excited. In fact, it makes me involuntarily cringe. The thought of obtaining several issues with different titles makes me worry a little about my bank account but mostly I’m concerned that I’ll miss an issue and a key part of the story. I don’t want to have to use a checklist to ensure I’m catching all of it. So, when I heard about Marvel’s Edge of Spider-Verse I wasn’t incredibly interested until I heard about the one-shots. Now that’s a label that makes my ears perk up.
One-shot means I can enjoy a story that ends as soon as I close the comic. Even if I sometimes want the narrative to continue, I feel a sense of relief knowing I don’t need to track down five more books to learn what happens. Mostly because it’s not always as easy as it should be find those books.
Of the five Edge of Spider-Verse one-shots, issue #2 caught my eye. It presents a world where Gwen Stacy becomes Spider-Woman. Sold. One hundred percent sold.
Written by Jason Latour and drawn by Robbi Rodriguez, Edge ofSpider-Verse #2 introduces a Gwen Stacy not quite like any I’ve met before. The spunk and sass are there, so are the smarts, but there’s so much more. She has the power and the accompanying responsibility now, and it’s apparent that weight is pressing on her. She’s not as carefree, and well, she’s more like Peter.
Before we get into the hardships of her role as Spider-Woman and how she got there, let’s discuss two particularly cool facts. First of all, Gwen Stacy is a drummer in a band called The Mary Janes. It’s led by Mary Jane Watson and on the opening page of the issue they’re singing a song called “Face It, Tiger” because of course they are. (Side note: Real life rockers Married with Sea Monsters added some lyrics and recorded the song. Listen on YouTube). Secondly, Gwen gets a creative, stunning, and practical costume. It suits her style, and it’s not a sexy-fied version of Spider-Man’s costume. Since it has a hood, I’m hoping a clothing company will make a zip-up sweatshirt soon.
In this universe, Gwen was bitten by the radioactive spider. No one understands Spider-Woman. Not her father, Captain Stacy. Not J. Jonah Jameson. Peter Parker wants to be like her so much that he experiments on himself and ends up dying. Gwen is blamed for his death, and she feels guilty – as Peter once felt about her demise. Gwen struggles with the secrets she must keep, and she has to protect her identity from her own father because he wants to put her away. Police try to shoot her instead of just capture her. It’s rough out there for Spider-Woman.
Like Peter, she feels a responsibility to the mask. However, that’s not how it started. She didn’t have the equivalent of Uncle Ben’s death to force her into action. She tells her father, “When I put on this mask, I only did it because it freed me from responsibility.” That changed when Peter died. Now, using her powers is about more than feeling special, it’s about defining the mask by doing good and going after the wrongdoers.
Sure, this title gets some points simply for putting Gwen Stacy in the spotlight. It goes beyond that though. This is a character who met a tragic end at the hand of Spider-Man – both indirectly and directly in my opinion. But here, she’s the hero. She saves the day, she wrestles with the demons, and she gets a second chance and becomes a version of herself no one expects. This is definitely an one-shot I’d like to see continue into its own series, but I’ll take what I can get.