When Spider-Gwen: Gwenverse was first announced, it sounded like a cash grab. Do the Spider-Verse thing but make Gwen, Ghost-Spider, aka Spider-Gwen, the main character, right? After reading the first issue, however, it was apparent Tim Seeley was going for more. A lot more. We’re talking brand new villains in the multiverse, clever versions of Gwen that were other heroes, but also a sliver of Gwen heightened and, more importantly, a character-growing story arc. It’s a collection that I was hesitant to like, but it totally won me over.
Spider-Gwen: Gwenverse opens its story with the current Spider-Gwen shot off course as she made her way to the 616 universes, but now her universe is far different. Something is up, and she’ll need the help of Spider-Zero to figure it out. The ramifications are enormous, but that’s also evident from David Nakayama’s incredible cover, which features many different versions of Gwen Stacy as a superhero.
At the start, Seeley does a great job reminding readers where Ghost-Spider is at in her life, her strong relationship with her father, and how she’s been going to college in the 616 universes since nobody knows Gwen Stacy is Ghost-Spider there. It’s an excellent way to establish our main character, as there’s great promise here for her to go through some growth. This sets readers up for Gwen’s rather difficult life and the guilt she feels after losing her universe’s Peter Parker.
Over the course of the series, Gwen encounters some wild variations of herself, each of which helps her learn a bit about herself as the heightened personality makes things obvious. She encounters a Thor version, a Wolverine version, and even a Captain Marvel version. The Iron Man version is particularly fun, as Seeley plays around with the idea of Gwen inventing cosplay and mashing Tony Stark and Norman Osborn together in a wacky yet believable way.
Along the way, Gwen faces off against some colorful enemies, like Roach-Man, Fossil, and Black 13. Each one comes with its own caption detailing what universe they’re from and some info on its abilities. This all leads to the main villain who is a version of Gwen. I won’t spoil it, but the revelation at the end is clever tying Spider-Gwen to this villain in a unique way that feels earned. It also hammers home some growth Gwen is doing in this series, further cementing the series as a strong one for the character. It’s not some throwaway side quest.
Jodi Nishijima’s art is solidly done here with a great pop of color from Federico Blee. Nishijima’s style suits Ghost-Spider, which has traditionally had a more cartoony look. There are even manga influences present like nervous sweat on Gwen’s face prior to jumping in to save the day. The character’s eyes are also quite large and add a certain dramatic effect that suits this bonkers multiverse story. My only complaint with the art is how it’s a bit stuffy with very few splashy moments. There are splash pages, but they don’t have the impact one might expect from a story exploring the multiverse.
In just five issues, this collection has a ton of multiverse fun, introduces a bevy of Gwen characters and villains, and enacts some meaningful growth for the title character too. Mixing super-fun ideas only comics can pull off with character growth sounds like a huge win in my book.
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