After many years of wondering about the ultimate function of Spider-Woman in the Marvel Universe, I can’t help but think Jessica Drew has finally found her place. While many others question who our new CEO Peter Parker is at his core and cause an uproar when Captain America strays from the path for which he is known, Jessica has hit a sweet spot of characterization, dependable without being boring.
Jess is funny and strong and her book unfailingly has me laughing out loud as I cheer her on against the bad guys. The latest installment, Spider-Woman #9 is a breath of fresh air that in a just world would have hordes rushing to their comic shops to pick up a copy. Dennis Hopeless and Javier Rodriguez deliver an issue that captures the individuality of Jessica and her team while also functioning within the larger “Civil War II” event taking place.
The way to allow Spider-Woman to shine is to focus on her humor and her ability to kick some butt, and there is no better way to demonstrate this than placing Jess and Roger in Canada searching for Wendigos, think of a cannibalistic yeti. In order to switch things up a bit, Roger is the proactive part of this duo while Jess continues to be distracted by Carol Danvers. Although Jess trained Roger before going on maternity leave, Roger’s execution could still use some work. His heart is in the right place, but I doubt any awards for number one spy will be in his future. He’s a wonderful comedic foil to Jess’ stiff upper lip and if his attempts at sneaking though a kitchen packed with cannibals is never funnier than when he’s shooting off porcupine pins by the dozens. I don’t know where Hopeless comes up with these ideas, but if the litany of enemies Jessica has encountered this past year are any indication, she and her team are due for many more offbeat adventures before we reach 2017.
While I will probably want Porcupine in this book for as long as it’s being released, Jessica’s first confidant is Captain Marvel, and as most girls can tell you, sometimes even your best friends can make you want to scream and tell them to leave you alone for a while. From the beginning, the squabbling between the two women is ridiculous yet still packed with love and warmth.
The relationships between the two friends is hands down the most realistic aspect of Hopeless’ writing. Before the action and the jokes, a writer needs to understand people, and that’s exactly why Hopeless is such an asset to this ongoing. He gets that best friends can get on each other’s nerves, and that good friends will always be there for you, even if they are hurling insults your way. The closeness between Jess and Carol is what keeps the “Civil War II” plot from feeling shoehorned in. It’s not just some random event that Jessica is being pulled into because of an executive order; it’s a real situation that her friend needs help with. She can take some time away from Wendigos for that. Like the scenes involving Roger, the tantrum between Carol and Jessica underscores the strengths of Hopeless’ work, and these masterfully handled relationships are why the book thrives.
For those of you who haven’t read any of my previous musings on this series, Javier Rodriguez crafts dynamic artwork which pops on the panel. When these two men were still finding their footing with Jess, Rodriguez consistently created work that kept me coming back for more. Now that he and Hopeless depict Spider-Woman in a constant manner that grants her agency, his art is even more of a reason to come to these pages again and again. Simply put, he’s a major player in why I continue to pick Spider-Woman up, and my words cannot do him justice.
Enthusiasts who haven’t been following along with other “Civil War II” tie-ins can confidently pick up Spider-Woman #9. It frames the central conflict in an accessible way while still providing a fantastic story about Jess’ small time crime fighting. Dennis Hopeless balances action and fun in order to highlight a comic capable of keeping readers thrillingly engaged while Javier Rodriguez’s art illustrates what cannot be shown through words. It’s a good Spider-Woman issue and a great event issue, which makes #9 an easy one to recommend to Jessica Drew lovers and Marvel junkies alike.