Writer: Jason Latour
Penciller: Robbi Rodriguez
Colorist: Rico Renzi
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Release Date: 5/31/17
When Gwen goes in search of Harry Osborn in order to save him she gets more than she bargained for, including a few new enemies, in Spider-Gwen #20.
Plot: Gwen goes in search of Harry Osborne in hopes of saving him– and herself– thanks to a deal she made with Matt Murdock. However, upon arriving at Madripoor she discovers that she’s not the only one looking for Harry. Before Gwen can even convince him to return, they must fight for their lives.
Story: With many titles in the main Marvel universe being dragged down by the doom and gloom of the Secret Empire crossover, readers can still look to Spider-Gwen for a book that provides lots of humor and heart.
Latour manages to keep the book light and fun while still building an arc with high stakes. There are a lot of funny lines around the introduction of Earth-65 Wolverine (I won’t spoil the bit) and quips from Gwen about the absurdity of her situation. Even with her life on the line, Gwen still manages to make light of situations.
There are also some deeply touching moments that root the story in Gwen’s friendship with Harry. Gwen is skeptical of her alliances but believes it’s Harry’s best hope and wants him to believe that too. She hasn’t given up on him.
Matt Murdock continues to be a far more interesting pairing for Gwen than Frank Castle. Even when you’re rooting for Gwen, Jason Latour’s writing of the character makes readers want him to stick around longer – even if he is a villain. Seeing him interact with Foggy was also a nice touch.
The issue did have a lot going on and I’ll be interested to see how Latour manages to keep all the plot elements juggled- S.H.I.E.L.D., clawed assasins, Murdock and George’s Trial just to name a few.
Art: Off the bat, one of the most exciting aspects of the art in this issue was the decision to incorporate the credits into fight sequences between Gwen and Wolverine. It’s done in a strategic way that doesn’t distract from the action but highlights it. In general, the addition of Wolverine gives artist Robbi Rodriguez and colorist Rico Renzi space to play around with new effects and movement that comes from the claws.
The coloring in the book is incredibly nuanced, changing to capture the tones of the scenes and distinguish the settings. Scenes back in New York have a darker, saturated palette while Madripoor lights up in washed out fluorescents reminiscent of a Tokyo-type place. I like how Spider-Gwen can often shift from a neon pop art vibe to something much softer and emotional.
Robbi Rodriquez doesn’t skimp on the details either, whether it’s capturing the background on Harry’s shattered phone (a photo from high school) or the slightly jagged, toothy smirk of Matt Murdock. Spider-Gwen has plenty of movement and action but also gives readers a reason to slow down and really examine and appreciate each panel.
Verdict: As someone who personally enjoys finding out about all the Earth-65 versions of characters, you won’t find me complaining about the addition of Wolverine. There are some funny moments in the book, but Latour balances it out with Gwen’s human side showing how much she cares about Harry. It’s this balance that keeps Spider-Gwen entertaining but not too goofy.
That said, setting up the introduction of Venom and then taking a complete left turn to introduce a new character felt a little disorienting. It makes sense that S.H.I.E.L.D. is also after Harry, but I hope Latour gets back to focusing more on the issues at hand, rather than claws, in the next issue.