Dennis Hopeless (W), Javier Rodriguez (P) and (C), Alvaro Lopez (I)
Cover by: Javier Rodriguez
Publisher: Marvel Comics
I’ve yet to shy away from sharing my more unusual opinions, so I’m certainly not going to start now. After all, I am the B-List Defender. Spider Woman aka Jessica Drew is by far my favorite super hero with “spider” in the name (followed by Kaine aka the Scarlet Spider). Make of that what you will. I’ve just always enjoyed her more than any other “spider” hero that may or may not be out there. She’s a very interesting character to me, and her backstory is intriguing. She was injected with a serum and put in stasis in the early 20th Century against her will by her father in an attempt to save her from a disease. She woke up in the present with her powers and has been kicked back and forth by Shield and Hydra until she finally ended up as a regular on the Avengers. She has since left the team to start up her own PI firm, aided by the intrepid reporter, Ben Urich, and the former crook, Porcupine.
I have wanted to talk about this comic for a while, but I can’t only talk about comics that I strictly love. I honestly would have rather done it before Civil War II ramped up, but here we are. What can you do? (other than allot your time better, which I should probably do).
In terms of comparison, this book is most like Nick Spencer’s superb Astonishing Ant-Man title. They’re both character-centric books about flawed individuals barely holding their lives together. There’s action in each, but the dialogue is just as eye-catching. Each title has a lot of comedy and a lot of heart. The leads are charismatic in their own ways, and both have histories that they’re trying to get past.
The nominal difference between the two is that Scott Lang’s child, Cassie aka Stature or Stinger, was born Scott took the mantle of Ant-Man. Jessica Drew’s infant child, Gerry, was born since the beginning of the All-New, All-Different Marvel.
I was admittedly a little suspicious about that new plot point when it was first revealed. Though Hopeless had done fantastically on this series before Secret Wars, it seemed a peculiar direction to take. I ended up enjoying it quite a bit, and the baby, though the care of it was the focus of the series for a few issues, has far from taken over the book. It’s still all about Jessica Drew, and that’s the way I like it.
As previously stated, this issue takes place during the Civil War between Iron Man and Captain Marvel, the latter of whom is Spider Woman’s closest friend and confidant. Here, Spider Woman and Porcupine are in Canada serving as “Wendigo Protection” for large hotel that hired them. Meanwhile, Carol Danvers is incessantly trying to convince Jessica to aid her in the conflict.
I’m not following Civil War II. Though I think the premise is interesting, the execution of the story has not captivated me. I’m wary of how this story is going to interact with many of my favorite Marvel titles. I knew it was going to touch this book, since Jessica Drew and Carol Danvers are one of Marvel’s coolest dynamic duos (behind Power Man and Iron Fist, of course).
How did this tie-in turn out? Quite well, and creatively. I enjoyed this issue quite a bit. The pacing is brisk and thought-out. It sets up how it’s going to relate to Civil War II early on, and, true to her nature, Jessica Drew does everything she can to stay out of it.
This has always been a book absolutely dripping with personality, and this issue is no exception. Dennis Hopeless has done an excellent job of rounding out Jessica Drew as a character. She’s short, irritable, and only does the hero business because her conscience won’t allow otherwise. She’s also really clever and endearing. The book starts off with her insulting all other active heroes for starting up this new Civil War. She spends the issue ignoring Carol’s calls until she shows up in Canada to harangue Jessica for ignoring her. The ensuing shouting match while they fight Wendigoes is the highlight of the comic.
The Wendigo threat appears quickly, and the action sequences are very well put together. Rodriguez has been a revelation of an artist for this series. I very much look forward to his future in comic books. He has a very unique and detailed style that is very appealing to look at. With Lopez on the color, the two make this comic gorgeous to look at.
One thing that I have missed in comics in recent years is fully drawn-out, sequential fight scenes. This book has brought them back. Last issue had an awesome fight between Spider Woman and Tiger Shark where the reader gets to see every blow exchanged and each move of the awesome super powered gymnastics. This issue does it just as well with the fight between Jessica and the Wendigoes. There is one page where the sequence of the panels does get a bit confusing, but this is the first time it has happened in this series. I don’t expect it to continue to be a problem in future issues.
How this book will continue to tie-in to Civil War II is pretty intriguing. Carol doesn’t ask Jessica to jump to the front lines. Instead, she asks her assistance as an investigator by having her watch Ulysses to see how foolproof his predictions are. That’s an interesting way to get Spider Woman involved, and it makes a lot of logical sense. It also implies that Jessica will be a pivotal part of the conflict, even if it isn’t strictly acknowledged in the main story.
Overall, this is a very solid read. It’s fun, quick, and clever. This issue won’t likely stick with you, and it’s certainly not the best book of the series. However, it does its job well, and skillfully bears the burden of its necessary tie-in. It’s just a thoroughly entertaining read. Give it a try. These are the kind of b-list comics that made yours truly become the B-List Defender.
Final Score: 7/10