Written by Dennis Hopeless
Art by Veronica Fish and Rachelle Rosenberg
Published by Marvel Comics
Release Date: November 2, 2016
There is something to be said about going into a comic having not paid attention to things like solicits or online rumors. There is also something to be said for being unaware or forgetful about a writer’s previous works. You get this false sense of security and comfort with characters you’ve grown to love.
Over the last 13 issues, Spider-Woman has set up a comfortable and functioning, though non-traditional family unit. Throughout this issue, promises of the future are made that could have taken many more arcs to unfold. Then comes the sucker punch. Jaw drops, fetal position is assumed and you just don’t know if you’ll ever recover.
You’ve been warned.
Pay no mind to the working superhero single mother, this issue belongs to Roger, a.k.a. The Porcupine. Even when time is taken to highlight how Jessica has helped other criminals around the city reform, it still comes back to Roger’s ex-wife and the cold-shoulder she is giving Jessica, due to her involvement in Roger’s life. The reformed criminal’s past is catching up with him. This all happens just as Roger has his own personal revelations.
They’re revelations with the potential to shake-up the Drew household. Roger’s co-babysitter and family friend, Ben Urich, acts as an exposition unguent both in getting Roger to be honest satisfying readers feelings, as well as pass along a key plot points to Jessica Drew. The general banter and wit that is found in every issue of Hopeless run can easily be navigated here. On the whole, the issue isn’t overly gripping or intense. It feels like a natural progression and pacer issue, of the story so-far.
Then comes a twist.
If you are reading reviews, chances are you already know what that twist. Even going back and looking at the solicitation text for the issue, a reader could guess what is happening. For those who haven’t been spoiled or guess, that will not be revealed here.
Instead, just a note that it is so sudden, and quick. If you were skimming the issue, and not taking a minute to read each panel, a reader could have miss it’s full impact. That’s not to say the art doesn’t clearly convey what happens, it does, in an extreme fashion. It’s just that there is no wasted space in the action. The event occurs and the story moves on with breakneck speed. It’s in an effort to leave you with a cliffhanger of the heartbreak coming next issue.
Veronica Fish’s art is detailed and emotional coming across as deceptively simple. There is a clear work put into each face being unique, despite sharing similar features, trademark of the artist.
A lot of this clean look can be credited to Rachelle Rosenberg’s color work. The shadow work that goes into the lighting of each panel feels very natural and easy to view. Fish’s layouts are anything but standards. A combination of panel overlays, gutter busting and distinct choices between black and white backgrounds move the story along in a succinct fashion.
Most of the action sequences have panel overlays on the action sequences. A curved half circle panel helps to create a claustrophobic or closing in sensation, when a team of henchmen make a surprise entrance. When the Hobgoblin makes his grand fly-in, the gutters shift from white to black. Its a visual cue the revs up tension quickly.
This is a perfectly paired team that creates emotionally charged comics, for those who have been invested in Spider-Woman so far. For readers looking to jump aboard, thanks to the new arc #1 logo for MARVEL NOW!, the significance of this issue’s events may not feel as grand or surprising. Once the big ending occurs, it makes everything in the issue that came before feel hollow, or as if they were just filler.
The lettering in this issue is a bit distracting, mostly due to a copious amount of long narrow tails. While it kept the read order of dialogue clear, because everything was orderly in position, the white sweeping across many panels has the potential to pull readers out of the story.
Spider-Woman is a cleverly written, beautifully illustrated and dynamically colored story, highlighting the struggles of a single mother superhero. This is not your everyday superhero book, but something to be celebrated for it’s unique views on balancing parenthood and life. Yet, after this gut punch I’m going to need to go hide under and blanket and sob for awhile. Sure, it’s superhero comics, and things like this aren’t always forever. It still reads like a Hopeless twist that isn’t being glossed over anytime soon.
The Verdict: 8.5/10