A Spider-Man Podcast

Spider-Gwen #16 – REVIEW

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It was just last month when I was praising James Latour’s continued ability to make the “Spider-Women” crossover a relevant part of her mythos and not just a commercial crossover. Since then, I’ve realized two things: first, the man’s name is “Jason”, not “James” (whoops!), and more importantly, there are many characters who aren’t so lucky, and in fact have their entire development derailed due to such events.

Oh hai Miles Morales!

Seriously, can this guy catch a break and just go three consecutive story arcs without being overshadowed by bigger characters and events? I’d like this character to blossom, but he’s caught in a constant state of reaction to events beyond his control, whether it’s the feud between his father and uncle, Peter Parker’s legacy and enemies, or universe-shattering wars held in secret. His continuity is in a frightful state following his introduction into the Marvel Universe proper, and he still doesn’t even have a proper rogues gallery. Moving him out of the orbit of the Spider-Man titles and into Champions seems to hold promise, and may finally allow him to grow and develop out of Peter Parker’s shadow.

…except I’m only writing this at all because poor Miles is in yet another crossover with a Spider-book. Dang it. 

To be fair to the creators, the pairing of these characters actually makes a lot more sense than some of the other team ups that have been foisted on Miles, as their similarities allow for some really heartfelt honesty between the two. Gwen in particular has had to hide who she is and the compromises she’s made from most of the world, and while she was able to bare her soul to Jessica Drew, 616 Spider-Woman is clearly her mentor, not her peer. She and Miles can understand each other in a way that older superfriends can’t.

That’s not to say that it’s all hugs and soda pop; there’s a downright uncomfortable confrontation between the pair and Matt Murdock that’s both tense and fascinating because each character involved is in a different place than we’re used to seeing them. Miles is panicked and angry, Gwen is submissive to Murdock’s games, and Matt is actually acting to protect someone else’s interests for a change. I know I’ve lauded scenes with Matt in the past, but his scheming really does bring out the best in both the characters around him and the creators themselves.

Jason “Not James” Latour also uses the impetus of the crossover to further the S.I.L.K. storyline already underway, linking Miles’ disappeared dad to an underground supervillian arms deal that leads to an interesting and ambiguous cliffhanger. Robbi Rodriguez is in his element when the investigation leads to Club Scorpion, creating a fight scene that looks intimidating but also fun. 

I’ve gone this far without mentioning the elephant in the room, the kiss between the two that led off this story in Miles’ book. That scene being a flash-forward, we’re still not to that moment in its proper context, but given what we’re dealing with thus far, I can see it emerging organically enough. They may not have a lot of history together, but they do have chemistry, and they’re both coming into this story with emotions running high. 

However, while it’s a great hook for a story, I’m not on-board with it becoming anything more serious than a kiss. As mentioned above, Miles’ development has been derailed by enough Marvel stunts already; just because pairing the new Spider-Man with the new Spider-Woman seems like a cute idea doesn’t mean it’s good for the long-term health of the character. 

Ironically, because Gwen’s been allowed to develop much more organically, I don’t think such a relationship would hamper her growth in the same way; I just don’t want the poor girl to have to commute to a different dimension every date night. What this kiss really brings to the fore for Gwen is how downright celibate she’s been through the book’s run. If anything, Peter’s defining role in her origin is framed by her lack of reciprocation of his romantic feelings. It’s nice that Gwen Stacy, so long remembered as “Spider-Man’s dead girlfriend”, has been allowed to grow without being defined by a romantic relationship for the past three years. 

And really, where would she even find the time for a serious relationship? Girl has ninjas to punch.

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