AUTHOR: VITA AYALA | ARTIST: PERE PEREZ | PUBLISHER: MARVEL | FORMAT: SINGLE ISSUE | RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
We should all be familiar now with Gwen Stacy as the spider person of one of Marvel’s many parallel realities. It should also come as no kind of surprise that, to evade publicity in her own reality, the Ghost-Spider has taken advantage of her anonymity in the old 616 (Marvel’s regular Earth) in order to enrol in college. This is the set up right at the start of the comic and had this writer loving it already.
Given that comic readers are supposed to like costumes and fights, the studies are sadly little lingered on in this issue. However, the old classic spider person set up of struggling with everyday life against the commitments and responsibilities of being a costumed superhero, one cursed with a conscience, a sense of self awareness and a wry sense of humour, is thankfully front and centre, even as Gwen falls into a trap set for her Earth-616 counterpart. The battles that ensue are a quick run-through of both Earth-616 Spidey history and a checklist of how these characters and events differ in Ghost-Spider’s timeline, alongside a running inner monologue that sees Gwen try to come to terms with her role both in her own universe and this one.
This really does feel like classic ‘70s Spider-Man in its treatment of the above themes, combined with a strong awareness of why many of the ‘70s plotlines let down female readers and characters, not least a certain Gwen Stacy. Aside from this strong sense of theme, the plot is relatively thin and the ending clearly flagged, but it didn’t feel any the worse for that. In fact, in a way, this issue itself was kind of throwaway, leading to very little in the way of character or plot development, but it’s an excellent entree into a relatively new phase for the Spidey universe, and one that we are very excited to see more of.