When we comic reviewers judge a new issue, we comment on everything from the art to the coloring to the story itself. Did the editor make any big mistakes? Do the panels have a good flow to them? Do the art and language come together to create a work that makes sense? There are a billion questions to ask. However, the most important one for me- Would I read it again?
Although the answer to that question varies, whenever I pick up Spider-Woman it’s likely the answer will be yes. Over the past couple of years, Spider-Woman has continued to find its voice, and in doing so, it has become a comic that is consistently funny and heartwarming with superhero throw downs that add the element most of us craved when we first picked up a Marvel book. In Spider-Woman #16, Dennis Hopeless and Veronica Fish create a satisfying conclusion to the Hobgoblin run with a perfect balance of action and sentiment. In other words, it is one that I would read again.
As with many comics in the Spider-family, Hopeless usually begins with a bit of narration from Jessica’s point of view. It doesn’t just give us an idea of what’s going on and where we’re picking up from the last issue, but it’s also a quick glimpse into our main character. Instead of getting inside Jess’ head, we see her through Roger’s love-stricken eyes in #16. By this point, we know Jess is full of determination, wit, and thoughts about her newborn. We know what she thinks about her world. Yet, this is the first time we’re seeing her through someone else’s eyes. Roger describes her much in the way that we perceive her, but he also grasps that her pledge to her friends could also lead to her downfall. Not only does that assumption highlight how Jessica operates, it also provides context for Roger’s own actions later on. Additionally, this framing is perfect as it gives us more context for Roger’s romantic feelings.
The level of intimacy between these two characters is where Hopeless illustrates the emotional aspects of this book. When Jess battles Ringer, despite broken bones and the certainty of defeat, she doesn’t do it for herself, and neither does Roger tackle Hobgoblin just to save his own hide. They are determined to protect one another, and when they succeed, they celebrate by making out in front of a very confused Carol Danvers.
It’s just about the two of them here. While Ben Urich has been a part of Jess’ team and key to some of her successes, this book has evolved from a solo series about Spider-Woman to a book highlighting the adventures of Jessica and Roger. This issue is the climax of all of that. They are partners, as Roger so aptly realizes, and as they stand side-by-side willing to go back into battle despite exhaustion, it’s clear that they are committed to seeing their relationship through to the end. I’ve seen a lot of 80’s movies, and with the exception of “Pretty in Pink,” it almost always ends with the couple you’ve been rooting for riding off into the sunset. That’s the story we get here, albeit with a few more bruises, and I like it.
As this issue balances both love and battles, Veronica Fish steps up to the plate to demonstrate this all through her art. Jess’ face when Roger is dangling behind Hobgoblin’s glider captures both her desperation to save him and her love for him. It’s a face of agony that highlights just how deep into this Jessica is.
In addition to getting the scenes that tug on your heartstrings, Fish also brings about some great action. As Hobgoblin and Spider-Woman hurtle toward each other with glowing hands poised to attack, she flawlessly depicts the anticipation of a battle. Through the scenes when Spider-Woman is somersaulting over villains and Roger is attempting to crash a glider as gracefully as possible, we get the full spectrum of a standoff and it’s significantly more fulfilling than just a few punches thrown for the sake of action.
With this being the penultimate issue of Spider-Woman, I can’t say anything except that I will miss picking this series up every month. Action. Big villains. Romance. Dennis Hopeless and Veronica Fish give us all of that with Spider-Woman #16; so go pick up the issue now if you mistakenly haven’t already. It’ll be one you want to pick up again and again.