Spider-Woman #2 Review

by Charles Martin on July 15, 2020

Spider-Woman #2 Review
Writer: Karla Pacheco
Artist: Pere Pérez
Colourist: Frank D'Armata
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Spider-Woman #2 takes a different tack than the title's debut issue, shifting from a self-contained demonstration of its excellent tone toward a complex, ongoing plot. If #1 sold you on that tone, #2 makes for a fun read -- but it's a bit tricky for an admiring reviewer to talk about.

This issue shoves Jessica into a wonderfully complicated conspiracy, and it's entertaining enough to keep me religious about avoiding spoilers. Even the fight scenes (particularly the first one) are too good to spoil by revealing Jessica's antagonists and allies.

In the most general terms, Jess learns more about the health and superpower problems that overwhelmed her at the end of #1. And she makes a Faustian bargain in hopes of fixing those problems.

Is it a smart team-up decision? No. But is it a justified one? Very much yes.

I give Karla Pacheco tons of credit for the justification. She's making substantive use of Jessica's status as Number-One Marvel Superhero Mom™, showing how Jess's decision-making bends like wet pasta around her concern for her son Gerry.

It's a far more effective use of Jessica's motherhood than the "have I mentioned I'm a mom?" one-liners she tends to spout in team-up comics (in Strikeforce and even the latest Captain Marvel).  

Spider-Woman #2 enjoys plenty of visual talent. Artist Pere Pérez delivers more outstanding characters poised perfectly on the line between realistic anatomy and expressive exaggeration. Colourist Frank D'Armata builds a dynamic palette that stretches from the darkest blacks (on the flash-forward first page, particularly) to the brightest high-intensity colours.

The art team bestows some wonderful faces on Jess, putting her emotions on display in a way that enhances the script. Most particularly, the most exaggerated faces draw a sinister line beneath Jessica's Faustian team-up pact.

Spider-Woman gets her superpowers boosted in the course of the issue. And the art makes it clear that she loves this. It's a smart call-back to past characterization: before she became Superhero Mom™, Jess was distinctive for being a badass and being proud of it. And revelling in her growing strength gives her another good reason (not morally good but narratively good) for her questionable team-up.

So what is it that leads me to qualify my optimism for this comic? While still conforming to a very high standard of storytelling, the words and art in Spider-Woman #2 don't lay out as much of a welcome mat as they did in #1. This issue is more plot-focused, and like so many contemporary comics built around multi-issue arcs, its quality is tough to judge based on an act-2 snapshot.

What I think we've got in Spider-Woman #2 is rock-solid development of a clever plot. The storytelling isn't quite powerful enough to silence some doubting whispers. There's still a chance -- a small one -- that this will wind up being talented sophistry in service of a story better forgotten. But compelling characterization and good art make the reading experience entertaining in itself and easily carry us through one chapter and on to the next.

Our Score:


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Charles Martin's picture
I'm still loving the in-universe criticism Jess's new costume is attracting. (Out here in the real world it is an awesome super-suit!)