Every superhero will have their fair share of stories where the odds are overwhelmingly against them, but it’s hard to think of a character that more readily takes to that narrative style than Spider-Man. Whether it’s the Sinister Six, the Master Planner, or any of the Osborns’ long-term schemes, the Marvel Universe seems to take a perverse pleasure in piling on as much peril onto Spider-Man as it can in a single sitting, and readers love watching him struggle through it.
It’s no surprise that Spider-Gwen should inherit this trait, and as a reader, I’m eating it up. As bad as the situation was presented last issue, this only serves to worsen it, as every saving grace has been tossed aside. The S.H.I.E.L.D. agents that were fighting each other? They’re working together now. Harry Osborn is at least capable of helping protect himself? He’s rapidly losing his humanity as the Lizard formula infects him. There’s no Bodega Bandit to annoy Gwen in Madripoor? Ha! There’s actually a Bento Bandit there to sour her day.
As bad as that all sounds, however, Gwen doesn’t even know about the peril her father is in. George Stacy is an honorable man about to be destroyed by the system he’s placed his faith in, and the issue’s conclusion opens the very real possibility that this may be paired with literal destruction. Everything that matters to Gwen has been placed in danger since the start of this story arc, and we may have finally reached the boiling point.
That increase in tension also works against the issue in terms of its place in the larger story. Essentially, Gwen and Harry have been on the run in Madripoor for two issues now, and the situation has only deteriorated. Obstacles were introduced and then escalated before our protagonist was even able to address them in their initial form. Something needs to give to break the tension and allow the narrative to progress.
Sadly, the issue doesn’t give Robbi Rodriguez much material to flex his muscles with; the action is mostly low-key and claustrophobic, as opposed to the frantic scenes his work shines in. Aside from a humorous aside at a nightclub and an impressive visualization of Shadowcat’s powers, there wasn’t much for Rico Renzi to go crazy with in terms of coloring, either. Having said that, Rodriguez can draw a very intimidating Rhino.
The past two issues have set the stage for what promises to be an explosive confrontation, but after two months of build, I’m ready for the payoff. We’ve got ninja, a Lizard, two Wolverines and Venom lurking in the shadows; it’s time to light the fireworks and let things explode.