Spider-Woman is without a doubt the most consistent, fast-paced action comic on the stands today. Karla Pacheco and Pere Pérez make each issue into something that’s visually stunning while also completely bonkers in its ideas. I dare you to randomly pick up any issue and not find yourself saying to yourself, “Oh wow.” That continues in today’s Spider-Woman #19, which is out in comic shops.
This issue opens with Spider-Woman’s Skrull nemesis Queen Varanke kidnapping her child on orders from Kingpin. This is a Devil’s Reign tie-in, but really it’s easily read without following that event. Pacheco uses the event to give reason to some rather bad times for Spider-Woman and now Jessica Drew is racing against the clock to save her kid.
This issue is a chase to get a hold of Spider-Woman’s child while facing off against a Skrull who can mimic anyone and anything. Playing into the Invasion of the Body Snatchers vibe is Spider-Woman not knowing if heroes who pop in are a Skrull or not which is solidly played for laughs. Meanwhile, readers will root for Spider-Woman to punch everybody that shows up be it Spider-Man or Iron Man if it means she can save her kiddo. There’s a page or two that doesn’t quite work–the crash could have used more especially compared to the packed pages around it–but it’s a solid action frenzy.
Something this series does so masterfully is it captures the high-octane action through clever layout design. When the action ramps up, Pérez starts using angular panels that seem to zig and zag with the action. Panels within panels, like a cutaway from a speeding van to show what’s inside, add interesting visual design to what could be an average fight scene by another artist. There’s an incredibly cool page with a curving panel structure that plays off Varanke morphing into different people, leading to a satisfying punch by Spider-Woman to shut her up. There’s always something visually interesting to look at and this issue continues that trend.
Character acting is also on point. The evil Pérez infuses into Varanke when she’s Spider-Woman makes her look twisted and unwell. Smartly, Varanke’s Spider-Woman has a slightly different costume, which helps distinguish the two.
Pacheco also makes some nice callbacks to previous stories which gives this story a historical feel. This isn’t just a fight scene, but a fight scene that has deeper connections to other stories. This series has also had some super fun sound effects which continue here thanks to letters by Travis Lanham.
Spider-Woman #19 continues the trend of action-packed pulse-pounding action with great visual ideas, and coming together with crazy plotting and character work. You’ll fall for the razzle of the visuals and the dazzle of the on-point character writing even if it’s one long chase.
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