Spider-Gwen has become… Gwenom!
Gwen Stacy, the Spider Woman of her world, has been given the Venom symbiote by Matt Murdock, the Kingpin of Crime, to take revenge on the Rhino for putting her father in the hospital. She begins a warpath across town to find out where the Rhino is holding up while the city of New York turns even harder on her than it already was? Can Gwen hold everything together? Does she even want to anymore?
You ever read something and think, “This really wasn’t written for me?”
I’m not trying to underhandedly drop an insult on this comic, honest. I didn’t think it was bad, but it just really isn’t aimed at me. I’m not the target audience.
Part of the reason I believe this is the fact that Spider-Gwen #25 retreads well-trodden ground pretty hard. The story of Spider-Man and the Venom symbiote has been told and retold many a time, and, unfortunately, Spider-Gwen adds very little of value to the formula.
The symbiote makes her angry and impulsive. It prays on her base desires. The comic does add some funny subtle twists; Venom vocalizes the minor vices in life in Gwen’s head. She thinks about food, and it tells her to get some cake. She thinks about exercise, and it tells her to lie on the couch. Not every negative impulse amounts to ripping someone’s throat out with your teeth.
The other differences are mostly in the set-dressing in Gwen’s life. Her father is in the hospital. There is a specific person responsible, namely, the Rhino. The Punisher is a factor. Matt Murdock gave her the symbiote, and it’s her only source of power right now.
And all these differences may add up to a more unique tale somewhere down the line. However, in this issue, it just feels like a condensed retread.
That’s why it feels like it’s not made for me. It’s almost certainly geared towards newer readers, likely teenagers, who aren’t super familiar with Marvel lore. They haven’t read this story before, so they don’t see a lot of the character and plot similarities.
And that’s fine. I can’t fault them for it, or for Marvel making a comic that is actually approachable to people who aren’t super familiar with their 70-year history. And again, the comic isn’t a bad read for me; it’s just too familiar. Spider-Gwen is a likable character underneath Venom, and the plot-specific differences are compelling.
Unfortunately, it’s also competing with Mike Costa’s Venom book for Venom space right now, and that has started doing some really interesting things with the Venom setup, albeit with Eddie Brock specifically.
The art is a bit underwhelming for me. It’s very stylized, and some of the design choices don’t work for me. The Spider-Gwen/Venom look could have used some more alterations, and I really don’t like this take on the Rhino aesthetic. I do like bearded Frank Castle though.
So, if you’re newer to comic books, Spider-Gwen is actually a pretty solid entry point. If you are a comic-reading veteran and aren’t especially interested in the character of Gwen Stacy’s Spider Woman, then it’s definitely not for you. Overall, it is a competently put together comic, but it’s unfortunately been put in the position of treading the old territory of a predecessor.
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