Ghost-Spider has made her triumphant return, which is really a continuation of Seanan McGuire and Takeshi Miyazawa’s previous Spider-Gwen series. It warranted a new start though, since it set in motion a new story where Gwen dipped in and out of her universe and the 616 so she could go to college. It makes sense since she has multiverse transportation and everyone knows she’s a superhero in her world, but not in the 616. The problem is if you pop in and out of your universe on the regular, someone is bound to notice. In this case, Jackal has his eye on her, which is not good.
This book is great for new readers since it introduces the main premise, the character, and gives a good sense of who the characters are in Ghost-Spider’s life right off the bat. You get a healthy helping of Peter Parker and his contributions toward getting Gwen into college, a basic understanding of what is going on with Gwen’s dad who is the chief of police, and a nice farewell between Gwen and her band. The new direction makes sense, especially if you’ve ever gone to college or know anyone who has. Life changes dramatically in this time in people’s lives and Gwen wants that while also maintaining her superhero work. It might seem crazy that she wants to attend school in another dimension, and that school is totally fine with it, but McGuire efficiently explains how it works and why. Given this is a superhero swinging around amongst gods and aliens, it’s not a huge stretch!
The Spider-Gwen (now Ghost-Spider) costume is arguably the coolest costume to be created in the last 20 years, and it’s a major focus in this book. The costume itself is alive and we learn something new about it, which seems like a likely answer to a bothersome inter-dimensional hopping issue Gwen is having, but the mystery remains with the cliffhanger that’ll have you worried for Gwen’s safety. McGuire is smart to add a price to this part of the character’s journey.
As the story progresses things get complicated due to Jackal’s meddling and it’s neat to see him cross dimensions just like Ghost-Spider. You’ll appreciate how flipping evil the creators have made Jackal — he does some brutal killing in this one, and the cliffhanger will leave you wanting. Things get complicated for Gwen in her real-life too and McGuire continues to show it’s in the relationships where her skill really excels. The relationship Gwen has with her father, to her friends, feels complex and real.
The art by Miyazawa with colors by Ian Herring are strong and never loses sight of atmospheric lighting, adding a subtle sense of drama to every panel. The comedic timing works well too, like in a scene with Gwen’s dad who absolutely does not want a surprise party. The frozen moment when he realizes what is happening is priceless. The character acting is genuine too and the age of these characters is never lost. Something we see a lot of in modern comic book storytelling.
Ghost-Spider is crafted in a way that’ll make it easy for anyone to swing into. This first collection is sharp, elevating an otherwise “seen it before” Spider-Man story with interesting characters and a new beginning.
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