Review: Spider-Woman #5

I reviewed the first issue and was completely underwhelmed by it, especially since it seemed to be dropping us in the middle of a story rather than the beginning of a new one. This is the anticipated new direction with Spider-Woman’s new costume, which is supposed to be more practical and realistic. Naturally, part of this review will be of that costume.

Spider-Woman (2014-) 005-000SPIDER-WOMAN #5

DENNIS HOPELESS (writer)
JAVIER RODRIGUEZ (pencils, colors)
ALVARO LOPEZ (inks)

COVER BY JAVIER RODRIGUEZ
VARIANT COVER BY KRIS ANKA
DESIGN VARIANT COVER BY KRIS ANKA
VARIANT COVER BY SIYA OUM
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99

SOLICITATION:

• With SPIDER-VERSE in the rear-view, Jessica strikes out to make a new life for herself.
• But she’s not going to do it alone, as she’s joined by new SPIDER-WOMAN supporting cast-mate and classic Marvel character BEN URICH!

Spider-Woman005-006REVIEW:

Why do I get the sense that this is the series Dennis Hopeless wanted to write? The tone is very down to Earth and doesn’t seem to be taking itself too seriously. This is not the upper echelons of the Marvel Universe where headquarters is a skyscraper overlooking the city. This is now a character on the street making do with the few connections that she has, and getting a fresh start. It feels very much like Charles Soule’s She-Hulk, yet not a rip-off, just a different take. I don’t understand Jessica Drew’s reluctance to get back into life as a private investigator, and she states no plan for how to actually live now that she’s quit the Avengers and S.H.I.E.L.D. Also with that little bombshell dropped on the first page, I again feel like I’ve walked in and missed something. I keep expecting to see it explained more fully, but it isn’t, just “I quit the Avengers” and let’s move on.

Rodriguez’s art is basic and has a sense of old school storytelling to it, yet he pulls off some very intriguing panel layouts and uses non-traditional colors, giving Manhattan at night the feeling that it is still alive, no matter the hour. I think a lot of my reluctance to embrace his style may come from Alvaro Lopez’s inking, which seems to not be doing justice to what appears to be a very graphic illustration style. The opening sequence has a couple of instances that bother me with the use of arrows to direct action. I came up with the idea that if you have to use an arrow, then you failed in your job as a storyteller, and the worst part of these arrows is that they’re totally not needed.

Now let’s talk about the costume. It’s meant to be more practical, camouflaging most of the time as a standard street wear. After the reception that Batgirl’s new Burnside costume got, I’m surprised that we haven’t seen more redesigns that carry this aesthetic. Here, though it doesn’t work 100% of the time. The jacket is gimmicky, including the glider wings that she once made use of in every issue of her original comic series. That doesn’t ring true to the stated goals of the story that she wants to quit the Avengers, “but before I do, can one of you tech guys make me a jacket with retractable glider wings?” Also, in the sequence I included above, the jacket sticks almost like one-piece spandex. It just doesn’t sit right for me to design a “more realistic” costume and then treat it like a traditionally painted on bodysuit. I like the costume, but I don’t think it was as thought out as the Batgirl, and it certainly hasn’t been explained within the story.

This is definitely better than the first issue and more in line with the way Marvel has been known to treat its female characters lately, but it still has little problems that make it seem almost rushed. Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but that’s what I see when I read this issue.