Ghost-Spider #8 Review

by Charles Martin on March 18, 2020

Ghost-Spider #8 Review
Writer: Seanan McGuire
Artist: Ig Guara
Colourist: Ian Herring
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Publisher: Marvel Comics

I have to start with a warning. If you, like me, were tempted back to Ghost-Spider by this issue's cover and solicit promising some spotlight on her band, the Mary Janes, I have bad news. This is one of those cases where the Mighty Marvel Marketing Department has gotten disconnected from the Bullpen. 

No "Mary Janes on multidimensional tour" action here; just another installment in the ongoing story of Johnny and Sue Storm returning to Earth-65.

Welcome to the world of comics: The Solicit Always Lies.

This issue ratchets forward the "Storm siblings as Earth-65's Kardashians" plot by a couple of notches. Besides showing Johnny and Sue fomenting some Gwen-related plans, Ghost-Spider #8 also features Gwen discussing the Storms with her local Reed Richards.

And the Maker is here, again, for a few panels of ominous but terribly vague foreshadowing.

What else fills up the issue? Gwenom gets a brief airing; Gwen puts on the tougher symbiote look to protect herself while she rescues folks from a deadly fire. It's a solid action set-piece. There is a connection to the larger story, albeit a tenuous one. Gwen's still trying to figure out if Johnny-65 has Human Torch powers, right? So it can't be an accident that her mission du jour involves fire.

And then there's the issue's other chunk of content: Gwen's latest trip to 616 ESU morphs into an extended talk with Peter Parker regarding the prime universe's abrupt crackdown on teen superheroes. It's a link to the new "Outlawed" event. It lets Gwen vent her existing issues with authority in a somewhat justified way. 

But it goes on for five pages. This series and this arc are already suffering from a slow pace, and this scene is a momentum-killer.

I wouldn't go so far as to call it useless, though. It features some excellent character art; Ig Guara is a wizard at letting Gwen's symbiote express itself by warping her clothes in menacing ways when she's angry. 

And Seanan McGuire's characterization of Gwen remains sharp and compelling before, after, and during the digression. Aside from a passing, odd-sounding anthropomorphization of danger ("Danger has never cared how old I was"), Gwen's dialogue is uniformly terrific. 

Outside the Outlawed scene, Gwen introduces and repeats an outstanding moral theme -- "You own what you build" -- that's evocative enough to become a long-term touchstone for her character.

The visuals in this issue are also consistently solid. Ig Guara's characters are exaggerated in a lively, organic way. They recapture a little more of the scruffy visual energy for which the first volumes of Spider-Gwen were so rightly celebrated. Ian Herring's colours contribute to that feeling, adding rich texture when the backgrounds need it and diving eagerly into the highest-intensity parts of the spectrum.

Ghost-Spider #8 takes a few steps forward on the Sue and Johnny plot, and it continues to deliver a compelling, finely-crafted portrayal of its star. But the ever-slow pace is slowed even further by a lengthy digression to chat about the "Outlawed" event. I think issues like this do enough -- just -- to hang onto existing Gwen fans, but I doubt they're going to bring in many new ones.

Our Score:


A Look Inside


Charles Martin's picture
The optimist's take on this volume's slow pace is that it will work much better in trade-paperback-sized chunks. But does Ghost-Spider have that sort of audience waiting for it?