Well, we the fans asked and we received. After the astronomical success of Edge of Spider-Verse issue #2, fans flooded Dan Slott with letters and pictures begging for more of Gwen Stacy as Spider-Woman.
Unlike in reality, death in the comic-book world is by no means an absolute. Over and over we see characters die and then either through alternate realities or with a last-minute jolt of adrenaline to the heart, we see them reincarnated. One of the few characters that never received this gift from the comic-book gods was Peter Parker’s true love, Gwen Stacy. We watched her die at the hands of the Green Goblin in 1973, watched as Peter blamed the Goblin for Gwen’s death, then ultimately blamed himself. All the while fans were wishing for her to return, really return, but after only eight short years in comics Gwen seemed to be gone for good.
Now enter the Marc Webb Amazing Spider-Man movies. For the first time we got to see a well-told Peter and Gwen love story on the big screen. That, along with Emma Stone’s flawless performance as the brainy blonde, made us all rekindle our own love affair with Spider-Man’s first love.
Then comes Edge of Spider-Verse issue #2, where we are introduced to an alternate universe where Gwen gets bitten by the radioactive spider instead, and where she is the one who can’t save Peter. I remember the day this comic came out in our shop: we sold out of that issue in a day, and for the rest of that week and many weeks to come. I was getting calls and requests asking if I had a copy of Edge of Spider-Verse #2, the one where Gwen Stacy is Spider-Woman.
In Gwen’s first solo self-titled issue, we get a little backstory on what life is currently for Gwen. Mainly that for the most part the whole city thinks she’s more of a menace, even a villain than a hero (something Spider-Man also faced). Add her policeman father, some drama with Mary Jane (ain’t that always the way?) and cell phones to the mix, but otherwise it has the feeling of an early Peter Parker story. The first issue even has an allusion to Amazing Spider-Man issue #2, with the Vulture as Gwen’s first nemesis.
As a woman I have to say I’m a fan of having a new female superhero. What’s great about Spider-Gwen is that she gets to do exactly what Peter did. She gets to do all the saving. In the last few months we’ve seen a rise in youthful female superheroes. I like to call it the “Ms. Marvel Effect.” The success of a superhero story being retold with a young girl was so well received by comic-book buyers that they wanted more. We now have Batgirl going back to college, Silk is drawn with a more youthful look, and of course a teen girl getting the powers of Ms. Marvel. Though change isn’t always welcome in the comic-book world these changes are doing something good, giving a handful more comics about young females that young females can actually read. No sex, your basic comic-book action and some relatable girls saving the world one day at a time.