This week Spider-Gwen finally hits the stands, and Image celebrates the arrival of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips’ Criminal with a brand new one-shot!
Spider-Gwen #1 (Marvel Comics)
Second only to Star Wars, Spider-Gwen’s solo series is probably the most-hyped #1 to hit the stands this year. The first appearance of the Gwen Stacy Spider-Woman in Edge of Spider-Verse #2 has gone though multiple printings, and the character has already become a favorite of the Internet. With this much hype, there’s no way the book could live up to the lofty expectations people have for it, right?
Spider-Gwen is fantastic. It feels like a natural continuation of Gwen’s Edge Of Spider-Verse issue as well as the mega Spider-Verse event that just wrapped up. The naturalness of this issue stems from the fact that both Jason Latour and Robbi Rodriguez have returned to shape the world of Gwen, and they both do a stellar job of expanding this universe.
Speaking of Gwen’s world, things aren’t going so well for her. Since returning from her multiverse adventure, New York City blames the recent crime waves on Spider-Woman’s disappearance, her father (who recently found out Gwen is Spider-Woman) is desperately trying to make contact with her, and to make matters worse, The Mary Janes have found a new drummer. Oh, there’s also a villain named the Vulture who’s been on the hunt for Spider-Woman.
As I said before, this issue feels like a natural progression for Spider-Gwen’s world, and much of that stems from Jason Latour returning to the character. Latour’s script is full of great moments and nods to the “regular 616” Marvel Universe, yet doesn’t get bogged down in showing us the differences between Gwen’s world and Peter Parker’s. Latour also has a lot of fun throwing Gwen through the physical and emotional ringer, from the fights with Super villains to trying to get back into her band.
Like Latour, Robbi Rodriguez’ return to Spider-Gwen is a very welcome one. The same kinetic style that he brought to Edge of Spider-Verse #2 is on full display here, and he’s even able to cut loose a little more than in that issue. Rodriguez’ style fits perfectly with this series, especially in the scenes where Gwen is swinging through the city.
Spider-Gwen #1 is a ton of fun, and an absolute must read for anyone who picked up Edge of Spider-Verse #2 or is a fan of Spider-Man. There’s been a lot of new Spider-Man tie in books hitting the shelves lately, but Spider-Gwen is easily the best of the bunch. Don’t let it pass you by.
Criminal Special Edition #1 (Image Comics)
Speaking of returns, this week sees the return of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips’ Criminal, in the form of a brand new special one-shot to celebrate the arrival of Criminal at Image. Unsurprisingly, these two have crafted another awesome tale that’s worthy of the Criminal name, and a perfect book for people who’ve never read a single issue of their classic series.
This issue focuses on Teeg Lawless, who’s currently serving a 30-day sentence in county jail. While he’s content with reading his pulp barbarian comics from the prison library, there’s a price on his head from outside, which makes him a target for nearly everyone inside the prison. Lawless wants revenge on the man who sold him out, and he’s going to get it. As long as he survives his sentence, that is.
Like all of his Criminal stories, Ed Brubaker’s script oozes with pulpy goodness, and presents a grimy, dark and lived in world full of danger. Likewise, Sean Phillips’ art adds to the atmosphere that Brubaker’s script creates. You can almost feel the dirt and grime on the prison walls, and hear the broken bones crack in the brutal prison fights. The two break from tradition with some pretty fun scenes inside Lawless’ Savage comic book, which offers a nice change of pace from the gritty nature of the book.
Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips are masters of the craft. If you’ve read Criminal, Fatale, or their current series The Fade Out, you already know this. If you haven’t read any of those, slap yourself, then go to your local comic shop or Amazon and snap them up immediately, along with this bad boy. Criminal Special Edition #1 is the perfect trip back to Brubaker and Phillips’ dangerous world, and another example of two masters at the top of their game.