With the Spider-Verse and character variants being all the rage right now, it is fitting that Marvel would choose to do a series combining the two concepts. And with Gwen Stacy being a character who is deeply connected to both those concepts, she is the perfect character to make the main character of a story like this. This has been done by featuring more heroic counterparts in Spider-Gwen: Gwenverse by Tim Seely and art by Jodi Nishijima, but Spider-Gwen: Shadow Clones by Emily Kim and Kei Zama offers a new take on this type of story, and issue #1 sets up a very promising storyline.
The opening pages of this book serve as an origin for a new addition to Gwen’s rogues’ gallery, and this character seems to be the cause of the appearance of these villainous Gwen variants that will be appearing throughout the series. I appreciate the addition of the new character, as Gwen does not have many unique villains, who are not a part of larger Spider-Verse events or variants of Spider-Man villains, despite her many appearances over the years. I also really like the way the scene plays out because it shows that what many heroes consider collateral damage actually deeply affects the people they are trying to save.
We also get scenes of Gwen’s civilian life and her interactions with other Earth-65 characters which is nice to see, as they play off Gwen very well. I was happy to see Gwen make a few references to the events of her last series, Spider-Gwen: Gwen-Verse, as she had some great character moments and development there – hopefully this means those will be expanded upon even more so in the rest of this series. My favorite part of the issue is the exchange between Gwen, Reed Richards, and the newly introduced Gwen-Ock, as it gave some humorous dialogue between the two Gwens and some insight into how their character arcs may go as the series progresses.
The art in this issue is a visual treat and is very similar in style to art in previous Spider-Gwen series. All of the characters have incredible facial expressions, which elevates the writing in the scenes to an entire another level. This is exceptionally well done in the opening scene that introduces the series villain, as you can very clearly see the pain on her face and her chilling look at Spider-Gwen. Another standout scene was a fight sequence between Spider-Gwen and Gwen-Ock. The carnival made for a very fun setting where both characters got to use their powers in creative ways, and Zama really took advantage of that and made an incredibly dynamic fight sequence. Triona Farrel’s colors give the book an extra vibrancy, as each page has bold color choices that make the artwork pop.
Overall, Spider-Gwen: Shadow Clones is a great take on some classic Marvel concepts, while staying true to Spider-Gwen as a character. Gwen’s personal life and connections are at its core, and it doesn’t lose sight of that despite having the Spider-Verse and clones, two big-scale concepts, as main points in the storyline. Emily Kim understands Gwen and has already given us intriguing new characters that I can’t wait to see more of as the series continues. Kei Zama’s art and Triona Farrel’s art and colors give life to the story in a brilliant way that makes every page a visual feast. This issue has set up what will surely become one of Spider-Gwen’s most memorable series and leaves me counting down the days until the next issue.
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