Relaunched last year, Spider-Woman is a series that has had the energy of a locomotive and the personality of a very loud luchador. Karla Pacheco and Pere Perez have infused this volume with so much it’ll likely stand out as one of the top runs of the series so far. This week, the second trade paperback in their run makes its debut in comic book shops collecting issues #6-10. Its plotting is about as erratic as Jessica Drew herself as it zips into space, takes a side step with a King in Black tie-in, and then wraps up the main ongoing narrative.
The opening issue of this collection is an expert example of how scene changes can keep the story moving along. It also has an effect on making Spider-Woman’s behavior even more erratic. Pacheco is doing a great job making Spider-Woman quite angry as she flies off the rails more than once with only Captain Marvel holding her back. With multiple scene changes, the issue zips along, pinballing from one violent interaction to another. The journey Captain Marvel and Spider-Woman are on feels epic in nature, but also a bit fruitless. They’re trying to find a supervillain after all, and they keep well hidden.
Her anger issues end up being the issue at hand that needs a resolution, and by the end, we get it. The quickness in pace at the start of this volume helps keep Spider-Woman’s anger at a constant level, yet it wouldn’t be believable for Captain Marvel to stop her and say something. She has no time to. It’s uncommon to see a superhero fly off the handle more than once and Pacheco gives her plenty of time to punch and smash baddies who probably deserve it anyway. This all builds nicely so that Spider-Woman feels a bit different and unpredictable. This plays into the side quest involving King in Black with issue #7.
As usual for this series, Spider-Woman #7 is action focused, with Pere Perez blowing us away with creative layout design. Most gutters in this issue are literally goopy Symbiotes oozing about, but when the action gets crazy they actually flail at Spider-Woman. It’s a cool effect that enhances the action at the moment. This series has been quite good at doing subtle things like this to amp up the action sequences.
The main confrontation between Jessica and Octavia Vermis arises in issue #9 and is held together with two exceptional double-page layouts by Perez, which detail the life of Jessica Drew in one, and Octavia Vermis in another. For Vermis, Hydra tentacles break up the panels, weaving in and out of her life to show us the torturous childhood she had and how she turned things around. For Jessica, we get to see what she has gone through in this story via DNA strands weaving in and out. We get to see the violent temper Spider-Woman has endured and how she has not been right for some time. Both layouts help convey what these women have gone through in a vividly gorgeous way.
For a short story arc, this book delivers. It not only wraps up Spider-Woman’s rage issues, but also closes the door on the new — and controversial — black costume. Most importantly, it never stops having fun and always seems to go for broke with its art and ideas. I mean…just flip to the back of this book and see what Pacheco did to Vermis (don’t actually do that, just read the thing!).
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