I don’t pick up too many B-list titles. When I stand in my local comic shop and weigh which titles to allocate roughly four dollars, the B-list ones are usually the first to get nixed. It’s not that they’re always bad or that I don’t care about those outside the A-team, it’s that I don’t have confidence that they will last. A few months of poor sales or a push for a certain superhero because of some upcoming blockbuster, and that B-list you fell in love with falls to the wayside never to be heard of again.
Therefore, the fact that this iteration of Spider-Woman lasted over a year is a bit of a gift. With every new batch of solicitations from Marvel, I would worriedly open up my web browser anticipating an end to a phenomenal run. While those fears went unfounded for months, eventually the solicitation for #18 never appeared.
Spider-Woman #17 is Dennis Hopeless’ goodbye. Realistically, Spider-Woman is not coming back, and knowing this, he gives us everything that has come to make this series one of Marvel’s strongest comics. There’s the comradery between Ben and Jess, Jessica’s persistence to have a vibrant personal and professional life, and her constant quips, this time fueled by wine. Of course, even with all of this, the series couldn’t end without Porcupine bumbling around. As Roger attempts to protect the rambunctious spider-powered Gerry and demonstrates his love for this little boy, there’s enough humor to keep readers laughing as they increasingly fall in love with this D-list ex-villain. This was never a comic about mindlessly beating bad guys, it was one about family. As Jess and her closest friends squeeze onto a couch to gab, the final panels highlight the heart of the series, fashioning a quiet yet satisfying an end to a comic that has offered up a little bit of everything.
While we see our core crew come together for one last hurrah, Hopeless also gives us one more party on Jessica’s rooftop with some of her more famous counterparts. Her feud with Natasha over Roger underscores her fire and desire to protect those she loves, while the appearance of Carol Danvers assisting with party setup puts a definitive end to the tension between the two women. Additionally, when Spider-Man appears in multiple panels and still feels like a secondary character, something goes right for Spider-Woman fans. Despite the Vision, Nick Fury, and the others side-eyeing Jess for her decisions to continue fighting street crime while taking up with a reformed villain, she is strong enough to stand up for her happiness. Not only has Hopeless helped craft a female superhero with agency, he illustrates here that he’s made one worthy of the A-list heroes with whom she spends her time.
I always pay attention to the art in a comic book, but since this was probably my last long-term rendezvous with Jessica Drew, I spent extra time on each page today. Veronica Fish dishes out dynamic art, funny snapshots, and just enough romance between Roger and Jess to satisfy the shippers out there. The best panels in this issue are her two page spread of Roger chasing Gerry around. There is plenty of movement while the action comes from the zaps Gerry masterfully lobs toward Porcupine. Also, the slapstick humor of Gerry hitting the superheroes, particularly getting Spider-Man right in the face, reinforces all of the fun to be had and creates one of the most visually entertaining issues of the series. It may not be battles against the Hobgoblin or Spider-Woman zooming around on a motorcycle, but there’s something to be said for the sweet, slower art for issue #17.
There are some good things about the unfortunate end of a series as great as Spider-Woman. The list is short but it includes the fact that Dennis Hopeless strongly ended a book he’s cultivated since the beginning, the fact that I’ll be four dollars richer every month, and the thankfulness I feel at getting as many issues as we did for a B-title. The book might not be coming back anytime soon, especially with the incredible creative teams it had, but maybe down the line a nostalgic fan will stumble into a big role at Marvel and relaunch it. A girl can hope, right?