Writer: Jason Latour
Penciller: Robbi Rodriguez
Colorist: Rico Renzi
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Release Date: 10/18/17
Gwen only has revenge on her mind, and with Venom clouding her conscience it’s obvious she’s willing to go as far as it takes.
Plot: After Spider-Gwen #24‘s tragic ending, Gwen decides to seek out her own form of justice and go after Rhino and Matt Murdock. Venom has finally taken hold. However, it turns out Gwen is not the only one trying to stop Murdock.
Story: Even with the thrill and excitement of seeing Gwenom in action, there is a level of melancholy in this issue that balances out Gwen’s actions to keep the reader from really seeing her as evil. While most of the last issue it appeared Gwen had the Venom under control, she’s clearly losing her grip fast. The voice inside her head has escalated to pure malice, but we see through her thoughts and flashbacks it’s still Gwen. Jason Latour using the internal monologue throughout the issue gives us a better look at the complex Gwenom dynamic than endless panels of violence could ever do.
The benefit of the battle for Gwen’s soul is we see Gwen’s friends and family rally for her, a nice excuse to utilize the supporting cast of this book. As much as Venom is a look at Gwen as an individual, Latour brings in plenty of other characters this issue to show you Gwen isn’t actually alone. After watching Gwen fighting on her own for so long, it’s really satisfying to see that The Mary Janes and the Parkers are both looking for her.
Even among all the darkness, the story is not completely without jokes (Rhino asks if she’s been bitten by a vampire).
While Gwen doesn’t actually get to kill Rhino, I enjoyed the twist at the end of who comes to assist her. It anchors this arc back to earlier issues, which reminds readers how far we’ve come on Gwen’s journey.
Art: Even just going back to the last issue, there has been a distinct shift in the art. Ironically, we’ve just finished the “Predators” arc and now Gwen is one. Robbi Rodriguez draws Gwen stalking her prey, and the panels are more violent than the usual web-slinging action. He’s not just relying on the Gwenom costume design to scare you, but the movements of the character. For the first few panels with Gwen, before you even see her in costume this issue. she is an ominous shadow haunting the doorway.
In addition to the furious, explosive action scenes there are some masterfully done scenes of small actions that build suspense as well, like this one:
The action scenes are packed and can be overwhelming, but the issue ends with a quieter, emotional take where Gwen faces her new reality.
I like that Rico Renzi sticks to a color palette similar to the normal books, but with slightly more muted, and drearier tones, to fit the narrative. The colors are darker without completely veering from the unique style readers have come to associate with Spider-Gwen. The fight scenes with Rhino and the scenes shown through the night vision goggles also makes good use of a unique color palette to break up the story.
Verdict: This issue was incredibly satisfying in the way it ties earlier elements of the Spider-Gwen run into the current arc. While Venom is a relatively old concept, this arc hasn’t been weighed down by that past. Instead, Latour manages to keep the story feeling fresh and authentic to the Spider-Gwen title instead of a rehash of old Venom stories.
Maybe we’ll never get back to the always funny, always sassy Gwen, and maybe we shouldn’t. Gwen’s trauma changes her and, as seen already in this arc, that’s a story equally worth telling.