We’re currently in the throes of “Spider-Verse” and with that comes the first issue of Spider-Woman. Between the buzz from fans around Spider-Gwen and Marvel pushing Silk so hard, Jessica’s ongoing series hasn’t gotten much attention aside from a poorly commissioned variant. Unfortunately, Spider-Woman #1 reflects this attitude and Jessica Drew quickly becomes an afterthought in a book that has her name on the cover.
There is just one problem that drags down the whole of Spider-Woman #1 and that problem is called Silk. With the focus on Silk and her recklessness as an untried hero, this feels more like a prequel to her own series than one that’s supposed to invigorate our enthusiasm for Spider-Woman. They appear in almost the same number of panels alongside Spider-Man Noir, but this issue furthers Silk’s storyline without enriching Jessica’s. Why is Jessica there? What makes her the person best suited to protect Silk? How does all of this play into Jessica’s larger role in “Spider-Verse”? Does she even have a larger role in this event or do all the other Spiders just function to protect those deemed most important?
By the end of this issue, I can’t answer any of these questions nor do I have faith that they will be answered. Any responsible hero could easily take Jessica’s place as a mentor. In fact, by the end of the issue, two others have taken over this supporting role from her. Admittedly they do this as Spider-Woman is sent on a mission only she can complete, but since we don’t know what this new mission is, I still have doubts that Jessica will prove herself to be the one capable Spider out there. She plays a cookie-cutter part in her own story while Silk demands that her thoughts and character be known.
What makes it all worse is that I couldn’t care less about Silk. Her personality isn’t worthy of the spotlight, and I want to skip over most of the panels in which she appears because she’s boring. She’s meant to become a ‘bride’ and supposedly is a keystone to “Spider-Verse,” but I am so uninterested in her that her rebellious whining only detracts from a story kicking off Jessica’s solo series. After she disappears multiple times and doesn’t listen to those out there only trying to help, I’m ready for Morlun to gobble her up. Had I read this without knowing the title, I would have thought it was Silk #1 with Spider-Man Noir and Spider-Woman in supporting roles, not a series devoted to Drew. It’s a shaky continuation of “Spider-Verse” at best and an awful introduction to Jessica at worst.
While the Spider-Woman series immediately gets bogged down by the intricacies of Spider-Verse and a superhero who is force-fed to us, there are some glimmers of hope in this issue. For all the times when it feels as though Jessica is getting shoved off to the side, there are many instances when Spider-Woman cracks dry jokes that make me want to see more of her. From taking time out to explain a Twinkie to the Inheritors to references to bikini selfies, Jessica really makes me laugh. She’s quick and witty, which I love. Many of the other Spiders may look at her as the stoic one focused on her mission, but she’s human underneath her suit, and writer Dennis Hopeless is determined to highlight that complex personality. She’s a hero that I can relate to, understand, and respect, which makes her interesting to read.
The strongest part of issue #1 is the art, particularly when it comes to coloring. It’s bold and demands attention, fashioning panels that I don’t want to look away from. The colors pop on the page and there are seamless transitions from the vibrant unknown world that Jessica and her partners traverse to the more subdued world of Earth-90214. This release might miss the mark on other points, but art is one of its saving graces. It’s an issue where anyone can see that the visual aspect of a comic is just as important as the written. Between Greg Land’s penciling and Frank D’Armata’s coloring, Spider-Woman is thrillingly engaging.
Despite a shaky start, there is some good in Spider-Woman #1. Even though this story isn’t the best introduction to Jessica Drew, she is a hero that I can immediately connect with, and that makes her all the more exciting to explore. As long as Marvel avoids some of the problems that popped up in the 70s run of Spider-Woman and decides to truly focus on Jessica as an individual, this hero could become one of the best Spiders out there. I’m especially excited to see what Jessica will face once she’s no longer tied to Spider-Verse because that’s when I think she’ll have a proper opportunity to develop and shine. It might not start with a bang, but it certainly could continue with one.