Spider-Woman #1 Review

by Charles Martin on March 18, 2020

Spider-Woman #1 Review
Writer: Karla Pacheco
Main Strip Artist: Pere Pérez
Backup Strip Penciller: Paulo Siqueira
Backup Strip Inker: Oren Junior
Colourist: Frank D'Armata
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Spider-Woman #1 gets a bonus-sized page count, and the creators make canny use of the extra real estate. We leap straight into action, rolling smoothly with the status quo changes along the way. Then, after the main story, we get a nice B-strip that bridges the gap between Jessica's prior appearances and the start of this issue.

It's a bold structure and the creators take full advantage of it, whipping up a fast-paced adventure that is immediately compelling. The B strip doubles down on the long-term plot threads while also adding some well-done humour. 

Jessica Drew introduces herself while whaling the tar out of goons, wearing a new costume, and thinking about how she feels less than heroic. A 10-minute rewind gives us all the context we need: She's babysitting a birthday party for the daughter of a pharmaceutical zillionaire where all of the kids are tempting kidnapping targets.

When kidnapping inevitably ensues, Jess clobbers heaps of goons with a brutality that surprises both her and her clients.

Something is wrong with Spider-Woman! But something is oh-so-right with the way these creators portray her.

Pere Pérez brings his usual eye for anatomical precision to the art, but some outstanding bonus touches exceed even his usual high standards. He goes the extra mile in making the faces expressive, particularly Jessica's. 

He also throws tons of detail into the combat panels, paying off inventive ideas that may or may not have sprung out of Karla Pacheco's script. (Weaponized chocolate fountain? Why not!)

The main story takes place on a yacht, calling for a sun-soaked palette, and Frank D'Armata delivers. He's also blessed with a golden opportunity in the premise of the birthday party: It's a Super Sweet Sixteen, with all the kids dressed up in gaudy knockoff costumes. That adds plenty of wide-ranging colour to the mix.

The icing on the visual cake is provided by Paulo Siqueira and Oren Junior, who take over art duties for the B strip. Their polished, realistic style is a harmonious match to Pere Pérez's usual work. But the B strip also emphasizes how the A strip artist is pushing his limits; the main story is a little more lively and active than one would expect thanks to its great posing and carefully-rationed exaggerations.

Karla Pacheco's script contains a ton of good work. There are a lot of detailed, humorous treats embroidered into the story in both the words and art. (Though the main story perhaps leans too hard one comic relief premise: Jess has to deal, hilariously but repeatedly, with an obnoxious brat in a Deadpool costume.) The pace is breathlessly fast without causing any confusion, and there's still ample space to get to know Jessica Drew's voice.

That voice might be the strongest part of the comic. There's plenty of sass on display, making a strong connection to the way Jessica's been portrayed in the past by Brian Michael Bendis and Dennis "Hopeless" Hallum. But the rage and sickness that torment the protagonist in the main strip relieve the sass with some sharp drama. It feels like a callback to Spider-Woman's Bronze Age origins, when she was wracked with several waves of amnesiac soul-searching.

Or perhaps the most remarkable part of Spider-Woman #1 is the balance it strikes between one-off action and long-term plotting. This comic is completely satisfying as "that one where Jessica saved a bunch of rich kids from kidnappers," but it is also an outstanding first chapter in a taut psychodrama about an unknown antagonist messing with Jessica in disturbing, yet-to-be-explained ways. 

Spider-Woman #1 wastes no time heaving its star and its readers into exciting, mysterious new adventures. The art is consistently gorgeous. The script is packed with immediately satisfying action, compelling questions for the future, and a strong protagonist voice. It's the Jessica Drew we know and love, but these creators are quickly and constructively making their own mark on the character. This is a great start: Tons of fun by itself, but also a persuasive hook for upcoming developments.

Our Score:


A Look Inside


Charles Martin's picture
Words cannot express how happy I am to see Big Ronnie's Custom Battle Spandex expanding beyond the realm of Gwenpool.