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Spider-Gwen, I Heart You by Marco Manalac

spider-gwen-1-cover-robbi-rodriguez-109184I enjoyed the Spider-Verse epilogue in Amazing Spider-Man issue 15 more than I enjoyed the actual Spider-Verse event. The main reason behind this is because there was more conflict, more tension, and more action packed in this one fast-paced issue than across the six chapters of the main storyline. The plot of this issue was simple. The Spider-Totems had won their war against the Inheritors, by trapping the vampires in a radioactive universe. And all of them had begun returning back to their original universes. But the Superior Spider-Man, better known as Doctor Octopus, had other plans. Knowing that going back to his original timeline would mean his demise, he attempted to destroy the Great Web of Life. He knew that the Peter Parker leading the Spider-Verse army was the Spider-Man of his Earth-616, in a later point of time. And Doctor Octopus knew that Peter’s return could only mean that his future self had died.

So Amazing Spider-Man issue 15 had the Earth-616 Spider-Totems ganging up on a crazed Superior Spider-Man, literally cutting up the Great Web, doing damage to all of reality. And although the Earth-616 Spider-Totems were able to defeat the Superior Spider-Man, he had already done enough damage to reality. The Spider-Totems from all the universes lost a big chunk of their Spider-Sense abilities, meaning that they could no longer see into the future, because of the destruction Otto brought to the Web of Life. One will almost feel pity for the Superior Spider-Man. After being neutralized by his enemies, he was sent back to his original timeline, with no memory of what happened in the Spider-Verse series. It’s almost tragic to see him wake up with no idea of what happened when he left Earth-616, and no idea about what will happen to him in the near future. He did die honorably, after all, before Peter Parker regained his body. So Doctor Octopus is still a hero in my eyes, giving up his life to make way for Peter Parker to reclaim the throne.

Things are going to be exciting because Spider-Man U.K. lost his universe, and decided to travel the different realities in order to restore balance and save lives in the worlds that lack or need a Spider-Totem. Anya chose to join him on his journey, as she said that there were already too many Spider-Women in Earth-616. This sets up the upcoming Spider-Verse series where Spider-Man U.K. and Anya will team up with the different Spiders to save and protect their respective worlds. It’s going to be a cosmic adventure, filled with thrilling action, and laugh-out-loud jokes.

Another highlight for this week is the first issue of Spider-Gwen. Spider-Gwen became so popular after her appearance in the Spider-Verse mini-series that Marvel opted to create a whole, new, ongoing series starring her. In Spider-Gwen’s world, she was the one bitten by the radioactive spider that granted her powers, not Peter Parker. In her world, she lives on, while it was Peter Parker who died. To make things more interesting, or complicated, is the fact that the whole world blames Spider-Gwen for the death of Peter Parker. With the help of her police officer dad, George, who knows her costumed identity, Gwen may live a lot longer than her Earth-616 counterpart.

But it’s not going to be easy. A jealous and fame-hungry Vulture picked a fight with her just this first issue. By the end of the book, Gwen was falling down toward her death, about to crash into the water. One can’t help but remember the most tragic scene in comic book history after seeing this page. Earth-616’s Gwen died too soon, and too painfully. So it is bittersweet seeing her now in her own book, fighting crime but also encountering the same dangers that eventually led to her demise in other universes.

An interesting aspect of Spider-Gwen’s life is her role in a rock band. She was originally part of a successful girl band called the Mary Janes. But her life as Spider-Woman, and her clash with MJ, took her away from her band. But now her band is suffering, trying to get things together. And at this point, she is forced to spy on them, sticking high-up from a window. It’s a good tactic by Marvel, making Gwen cool and hip versus the usual style of making Spider-Characters socially awkward and wimpy.

I sure hope that a lot of people give Spider-Gwen a chance. I know there was a lot of hype going into the release, but I pray that the interest can be sustained. More importantly, I can only wish that when Secret Wars hits us, Spider-Gwen will be able to survive all the chaos and come out alive. Marvel has a very strong cast of female Spider-Heroes. Spider-Gwen finds herself in the ranks of Jessica, Anya and Silk, all very strong and established women in comic books. This is a trend that a lot of people can definitely ride on. Cheers to more girl-power in the Spider titles!

(When he’s not out on the streets saving the world from made-up villains, Marco Manalac is usually surfing the internet. Follow him on Twitter @marcomanalac. Email him at marco.manalac@gmail.com)

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