REVIEW: Spider-Gwen #15 – “The Holiday for Giving”

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SPIDER-GWEN #15
Writer: Jason Latour
Artist: Robbi Rodriguez
Colorist: Rico Renzi
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Release Date: 12/21/16
Price: $3.99

It’s time for Spider-Gwen to celebrate the holidays, but her deal with the devil puts a downer on her Christmas spirit.

Plot

Gwen and The Mary Janes are celebrating the holidays by playing their music on the streets of New York City to help pay for rent. In the middle of their rocking christmas medley, someone steals their guitar case filled with their rent money. Gwen goes after the man to find herself face-to-face with one of Matt Murdock’s henchman. Matt wants to meet Gwen to test her skills as Spider Woman. Even with one of her last power-ups, the fight doesn’t end well for Gwen. With Gwen on her knees Matt leaves her with a christmas present, unlimited power-ups.

Story

Spider-Gwen #15 uses the Christmas holiday to build up Matt Murdock as a threatening villain. As the Kingpin of this universe, he uses Gwen’s lack of spider abilities as a power play of his own. It’s been evident in these past couple of issues that Gwen is desperate for her spider powers, and with Matt Murdock having the key to an unlimited source of power he officially has Gwen under his thumb.

This issue’s prime focus is on the dynamic between Gwen and Murdock, but also touches upon Gwen’s relationship with her father in a less direct way. Gwen runs into an officer that use to work with her father, and this allows Gwen to express how she feels about her father being in jail. She believes this is a journey her father has to take to let the world know the truth about Spider Woman. This section of dialogue seemed a bit long winded, but I liked the overall theme that was presented. It allowed Gwen to talk about her feelings without being face-to-face with her father, building more tension for when they do meet up again.

Even though this issue had some interesting character interactions, it was sadly another slow paced story. We’ve had a few of these in the past couple of months. With a slower paced story I wish this issue gave us more screen time with The Mary Janes. I enjoyed seeing the band rock out together, and then the best scene of the issue was the small glimpse we saw between Mary Jane and Gwen. Mary Jane has blatantly spelled out that she knows Gwen is Spider Woman, but Gwen never gives a satisfying response to Mary Jane (mostly because she always runs away or stays silent when Mary Jane brings it up). There’s a bit of tension between The Mary Janes and Gwen that I hope will get resolved soon because they are great supporting characters with, sadly, limited panel time.

Art

Robbi Rodriguez on pencils and Rico Renzi on colors bring a delightfully vibrant feel to this issue and every issue of Spider-Gwen. I really liked that this issue brought a cohesive, but different tone to a few of the sections of the story. The opening with The Mary Janes brings the rock tone that made us fall in the love with Spider-Gwen. Then the story takes a more emotional shift when Gwen talks about her father with Officer Boyle. Rodriguez uses more close up shots to portray this emotional scene. But my favorite section in this issue was when Gwen takes on Matt Murdock’s ninjas. The scene felt like a fast paced ninja/martial arts movie. This is especially evident when Gwen is being thrown down to the floor as a ninja is slicing her body.

My only complaint towards the artwork is that Rodriguez tends to use too many close up shots, especially in the beginning of the issue. It was a bit hard to tell the placing of the person stealing The Mary Janes’ rent money. If these panels didn’t have as many close up shots this scene would have been easier to follow.

Verdict

Spider-Gwen #15 may be a slower issue, but there were some great character moments that make this issue worth picking up.

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