The covers: Five different covers, True Believers, so hang on to something as we go over them all! The Main cover is by Greg Land & Morry Hollowell. It features an excellent illustration of Spider-Woman flying forward against a cream colored background filled with lightly colored red webs. Below her is Silk, striking an odd pose. I’m trying this book for Jessica Drew’s exploits, so I’m hoping there’s not too much of Silk in this book. Still, I like this cover and it was the one I purchased. The first Variant comes from Skottie Young and it’s a fantastic Li’l Spider-Woman hanging upside down from the title, smiling and waving. The background is white, making the colors of her costume really stand out. Cute and cool. The next is by Milo Manara, and this is the infamous image that got a ton of press a few months ago. Spider-Woman is crawling onto the roof of a building, showing her rear quite well. I’m familiar with Manara’s work and this is what I expect him to draw, so it doesn’t offend me. Gary Choo’s Variant cover is next, showing Groot in super close-up pondering something as Rocket Raccoon jumps at the men who have guns trained on him, posed as Spider-Woman was on her first issue from decades ago. Kind of funny, but I would rather see the title character on the first issue, rather than those from other series (You listening, Deadpool?). The final Variant is by Siya Oum showing the title character as I know her, falling backwards against the backdrop of the city. She looks terrific and so does the city. This is the one to track down. Overall grades: Main A-, Variant Young A, Variant Manara A, Variant Choo F, and Variant Oum A+
The story: This is the first Marvel book I’ve tried in a while where I did need the opening page summary to know what was going on. It seems this title is being launched right in the middle of a mega-crossover titled Spider-Verse. A group of villains is traveling the Multiverse hunting down Spider-totems to feed off their life force. Several “Spider” characters are working with one another, in different parallel worlds, to avoid these Inheritors after them. This seems like a really poor business choice to start a new series off for readers, but Dennis Hopeless gives it a shot. Spider-Woman, Silk, and a Spider-Man from the 1930s (think Dominic Fortune or Lobster Johnson) are riding lizard donkeys through a purple desert on a fantasy-like world…Okay…Not what I was expecting. Spider-Woman is not thrilled with Silk, as she’s too quick to act and doesn’t have much experience. They come upon a village of tents where Jessica has the pair wait, keeping a low profile, while she looks for “blending in clothes.” Two youths on flying discs appear and start to steal food from an old woman on Page 4. Guess who can’t keep a low profile? Quicker than you can say “Gundam,” the youths transform into something else entirely and Silk and 30’s Spidey are in the thick of things. This is a fairly traditional Marvel fight until two characters arrive that had me thinking of a similar pair that have appeared in Dark Horse Comics’ Angel & Faith: Season 9. I have no idea who this duo is and why they want the Spider heroes, but they’re powerful enough to make them run. The book then makes a transition to a new location. How that transition is accomplished is not explained, but I rolled with it. This location serves two purposes: to have one character exit and receive new orders from a famous character. I have no clue why Jessica has to go to this new location, and I have no clue as to why one of the characters is so important. I felt left out of most of this story. Overall grade: C-
The art: The visuals of this book are okay. Penciller Greg Land and inker Jay Leisten do a decent job on every page. I grew up with Steve Leialoha illustrating this character, so I would prefer to see her like that or drawn very realistically. Land and Leisten do the latter well. Spider-Woman looks great on Pages 1, 7, 11, 13, and 15. The emotional range they can get out of her is excellent, considering half of her face is covered by a mask. She looked best when frustrated in the final half of the book. This book is my first exposure to Silk, and I’m sure they didn’t design her. She looks like a white Spider-Man with a ninja mask. She looks like a last minute Halloween costume. She’s drawn in an awkward angle on Page 5, but she looks much better in action on 6. She looks the best on Pages 13 and 14, but I’d like to see more of her in action. 1930’s Spidey is a blink in this book, so what I saw looked okay, but I was really impressed with where he’s taken in the second half of the story. Land and Leisten do a superb job on this setting and its people. I would love to see them return to this setting or do another book set in this time period. There’s not much action for them to draw, save Pages 4 – 9, and it begins very awkwardly. I couldn’t tell who transformed at the top of 5 as that character doesn’t do much on the previous page and the individual’s face is obscured by a mask. The bottom of the page is like bad manga. Silk is awkward and her foe is awkward in its construction. When Spider-Woman joins the fray things improve. Page 10 is just a mess. It looks like this page was cranked out in half an hour. The famous character that appears in the second half of the book is really blocky and he can’t lift his head off his chest. Why? I wasn’t too keen on the first half of the book, but the setting that appears in the middle was good. That put this issue just above average. Overall grade: B-
The colors: There is some very nicely blended panels and pages in this issue from Frank D’Armata. The first pages shows this with the skin on Spider-Woman’s face. It’s very realistic. Close-ups of her and Silk look really good. Purple dominates the opening sequence, which gives every panel a peaceful tone. Some truly fantastic coloring is done in the second panel on Page 4. Though, while looking closely at this excellent work, the sky stuck out as a photograph. It fits the scene, but I would rather colors have been used than pictures cut and pasted in. The coloring hits a minor speed bump at the bottom of 5 with elements being too dark to clearly see what’s transpiring. My favorite coloring occurred on the second location our heroes go to. It was perfect and made that world seem more real. Overall grade: A-
The letters: Opening title, summary, and credits, dialogue, narration, sounds, and scene settings are crafted by Travis Lanham. I am always happy to see narration being differentiated from the dialogue, as it should be, and, thankfully, Lanham does that in this book. Overall grade: A
The final line: I don’t know how a reader could enjoy this without reading all of the previous chapters in Spider-Verse. This was a poor way to start a new series and leaves me on the fence as to whether I’ll pick up the next issue. Overall grade: B-
Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer’s Guide for several years with “It’s Bound to Happen!”, he reviewed comics for TrekWeb, and he currently reviews Trek comics at TrekCore. He’s taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for two years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.