Spider-Woman motivated me to do one thing: Look up a quote that turns out is a bible verse “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other.*” Luke 16:13 Why did I think this? Read on.
Writer: Dennis Hopeless
Penciler: Greg Land
What is there really to say about this issue? I guess that depends on how you want to read it. As a Spider-Verse tie-in it moves along the plot of some minor characters who have the MacGuffin, who in this issue is Silk. And as a tie-in, it is a decent one in that it isn’t terrible if rather bland. It’s biggest crime is that most of it simply comes across as filler.
However, as a Jessica Drew Spider-Woman ongoing #1? It’s pretty bad. It gives no idea of what this series will be about or really who this series is about. Sure, Jess functions as narrator but most of the action and plot focuses around Silk. Also, the narration gives us no real reason to be fond of Jess. We are given no information on her past life or experiences. Her biggest characterization is that she feels superior to her parallel-world compatriots while having no real idea of what their experience level is. When I read the lines “I knew they were green, but if I’d known they were green and stupid I would’ve taped their feet to something heavy or just beat them till they quit moving” my thoughts were equally “how does she know this” and “why is she being depicted as the authoritarian figure we don’t like?” Let it be said, Spider-Woman has a long and convoluted history that only has ret-cons as its consistent aspects. But it felt like just a few months ago where I was reading issues of Secret Avengers where this same Jessica Drew was the amateur of the group and now she is supposed to be the voice of experience? Also, since Bendis re-introduced her hasn’t she basically been the screw-up trying to get her stuff together (or was that the Skrull Queen? Or both?) But hey, Hopeless starting off a new series and ignoring much of the prior characterizations is nothing surprising after Battle Avengers Royale.
Oh yeah, the quote. Basically, this issue doesn’t know what it is. Is it a tie-in book that should have been called Spider-Women? Is is a start of an ongoing series? While it might be listed as both, it is only succeeding at the first and feeling really empty at the promise of the latter. As I imagine Silk’s role as MacGuffin to the Spider-Verse storyline means she will likely be featured in the main storyline I see no reason to pick this issue up or the other tie-in issues that follow. Wait until the series actually has its own legs to stand on before reading it.
Lastly, when this series was first announced heads were scratched at Greg Land being the artist. To sum up, Land is not known at being the most female friendly artist and it is widely reported he uses porn images for a decent amount of his anatomy references. Then the Milo Manara (since-cancelled) variant cover shifted focus off of Land. But in this issue, Land is adequate. None of it is too cheesecake but none of it is really compelling. To beat the notion into the ground, it is the art you would expect from a relatively unimportant tie-in issue that likely serves as more of a money grab than a real attempt at an ongoing. Or is that too cruel?
Now for some gross speculation: Honestly, I can’t help but wonder what the behind the scenes story is. While I haven’t been a big fan of the DeConnick Captain Marvel I cannot deny that it has energized fandom, especially women. Since then Marvel seems to have made an effort increase titles featuring women and also featuring strong artistic choices. Like them or not the recent launches of She Hulk, Elektra, Black Widow, Ms. Marvel and Storm (to a lesser extent) have been visually arresting. However, that hasn’t exactly translated into sales. She Hulk and Elektra have been cancelled and I’ve read rumors of Storm having a big question mark next to its survival chances. Could the generic art provided by Land just be test to see if that helps sales? Or is this a move to have a cheesecake artist at the ready if some brokeback poses are needed to raise some… numbers? End of Speculation.
Still I can’t recommend this unless you can’t get enough of either Jessica Drew or Spider-Verse, but there are better supplies of both out there. Maybe check back when Spider-Verse is over and see if the title character is given an interesting world to inhabit.
*The full verse ends with “You cannot serve both God and money.” but that confuses the point I want to make