Ghost-Spider is one of those series that mixes domestic and superhero life so darn well. Seanan McGuire and Ig Guara get back in the saddle with this series (with Rosi Kampe on issue #6), a follow-up to vol. 1 which was pretty darn good. This is the last arc before Ghost-Spider ends up tussling with Carnage in the King in Black event, so it’s a good place to get caught up on the character.
This book is very good at capturing the complexity of Gwen and her father’s relationship. There is time spent with Gwen and her father talking things through about her life as a superhero. It’s a tough subject for them due to their history, which makes it relatable for kids who have trouble talking to their parents. These dialogue-heavy scenes never get too tiring thanks to some well placed visual ideas, like Gwen’s costume freaking out as she gets angry mid-conversation with her dad or a well-timed swinging session amongst the pretty blue and purple stylistic buildings of New York. Ian Herring’s colors amp up the graphite stylings of Guara’s pencils quite well. It’s also easy to relate as they discuss superhero matters because McGuire is so good at tapping into what it is to be a teenager figuring things out.
A new wrinkle in Gwen’s life emerges through Sue Storm and Johnny Storm. The brother and sister duo reemerge in the Ultimate universe seemingly to allow Gwen to retire from superheroing in New York. These younger and edgier versions of Susan and Johnny are an interesting twist on the familiar siblings and McGuire gives us just enough to be wary of them so that we’re unclear of their intentions and want to learn more.
The buildup with these characters is interesting though it falls a bit flat as it wraps up much too quickly in the final issue. In fact, much of the Sue and Johnny stuff is buildup with little action in some issues of the arc. That said, it’s a nice promise for more in future stories.
The art by Ig Guara continues to be great in this series. Want a new costume for Ghost-Spider? You’ve come to the right place. It’s dark, brooding, and suits the weird sci-fi relationship she has with the costume. It appears we’ll see more of it too in the King in Black event. The flashbacks to Human Torch and Invisible Woman’s rise in power are also well done. You get the sense of what Johnny and Sue go through adding to their humanity and complex rise.
This trade paperback has moments of melodramatic genius but wraps things up too quickly with Sue and Johnny for the conclusion to feel earned. That said, McGuire only strengthens the Gwen character via her relationship to her father and new wrinkles in her superhero life. Given this character rarely gets play these days, this is a good place to start before her return in the coming months.
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