Marvel events are often like the latest restaurant opening in town, overly hyped and not quite right. However, “Spider-Women” continues to prove itself to be a smaller concentrated event that utilizes the characters in order to fashion an interesting story. Sure, being stuck in someone else’s dimension is a great premise, but I started this for the women I enjoy reading. Without them, this event is nothing, and writer Dennis Hopeless and guest artist Joelle Jones understand that. Spider-Woman #6 is a tight issue that highlights Jessica without detracting from the larger event going on, though it is a touch light on plot.
Jess has really played the role of a mentor throughout most of this event, but with the spotlight back on her, she gets to let her crime fighting side loose in this issue. Armed with the intel that her Earth-65 counterpart, Jesse, needs to be taught a lesson; of course, like any superhero with a family life, she gets more than she bargained for. It might have been great to see Jessica spar with herself, but the fight scene we get is one that sticks with me.
Jesse’s wife is not a meek housewife, she knows something is going on, and she’s willing to do whatever she has to in order to protect her home and children. The most entertaining parts aren’t the fighting scenes, but the scenes where the kids come home arguing about TV time in a home equipped with enough guns to support a small war. The contrast between what we see upstairs and the normality of downstairs captures what is so great about superhero stories. It’s not just about them, but about everyone they interact with and touch. Despite the fact that the rest of the world is dubbing this the next installment of the “Kill Bill” franchise, I enjoyed it all the same without having seen the movie. Jessica Drew is a badass, Jesse Drew’s wife is a badass, and they both know when to let it go. Who knew that superheroes with common sense still existed in the world of Spider-people?
While Jessica is decidedly the focus of this part of “Spider-Women,” Hopeless makes time to highlight Cindy and Gwen. Still feuding and increasingly irritating one another, these two younger Spider-Women are clearly operating on different planes. Whereas Jessica is the more mellowed Spider-Woman who puts family first, her two younger friends are full of ego and unwilling to let anything slide. Cindy wants to defend herself against Gwen’s constant berating and Gwen wants to continue to judge, yet Jessica brings a no nonsense attitude willing to shut this feud down. The juxtaposition of Jess against the other girls illustrates just how mature she is and how much growing Silk and Spider-Gwen need to do. It makes for a more vibrant event that allows us to become familiar with all of these three headstrong leads.
In addition to our three female stars, this small-scale event does a terrific job of establishing the Earth-65 universe. Hopeless and the writing team behind all of “Spider-Women” take what we know and put the slightest spin on our favorite characters in order to keep us engaged. Since dimension hopping is such an integral part of this crossover, it’s refreshing to see the team highlight this world without overloading us with characters with whom we don’t have time to connect. The strong characterization throughout these pages underscores Hopeless’ abilities as a writer and makes me want to come back for more.
Although Javier Rodriguez’s art is gold, Joelle Jones brings her own unique touch to #6. Instead of the kinetic energy of Rodriguez’s work, here there’s more focus on close-up panels and facial expressions. The battle between Jess and Mrs. Drew isn’t so much about the violence, but about the way these women are reacting to one another. While Hopeless’ words are one way to understand the women, Jones adds another layer to their dispositions. With this small-scale event that focuses on the personalities of the Spider-Women, Jones’ art emphasizes character and personality, adding more depth to the story as a whole.
If I have one critique of this book, it’s that these solo issues feel a bit fleeting. Just as I start to get acquainted with Jess’ take on this situation, the issue is over. The only real advancements to the plot are the last two or three pages, making everything before it interesting but without much purpose. It’s all a ton of fun and it’s certainly a page-turner, but it does make me question if this event could have been told in fewer issues. With $3.99 being the Marvel standard nowadays, I want as much bang for my buck as possible, and I don’t exactly get that here.
Spider-Woman #6 is easily digestible yet still impactful on the lives of these three superwomen. I don’t need an event that changes everything we know to be true, and with Dennis Hopeless’ attentive script and Joelle Jones’ character driven art, this latest installment is a fun, dynamic addition to the larger event taking place. For those of you worn out after “Spider-Verse” and “Secret Wars,” “Spider-Women” is the event for which you’ve been waiting.