Man-Wolf has been working in the shadows to take out Spider-Gwen and now he’s gotten personal. When a bomb goes off during a Mary Janes performance, Gwen’s closest friends are put in harm’s way and Harry is injured. This sets her on a mission to take down this monstrous menace once and for all.
I’ve criticized the idea of secret identities for awhile in the context of friends and family. In Spider-Gwen’s case, her alter ego is public knowledge. This is one of the big fears that comes with super hero life and we see it play out in this issue when Gwen’s friends become targets. She’s in a tough spot because there’s no easy way for her to keep them safe while also maintaining her super hero life. By doing good in the world, she is putting her loved ones in the crosshairs.
Gwen shows a more aggressive side in this issue. This has been hinted at over time as her powers are on the fritz, but she really lets loose here for obvious reasons. It’s kind of amazing how quickly she’s able to track down Man-Wolf when she has the right motivation. Gwen pulls together every clue and resource she’s found over the course of this series to find this monster.
And what a monster he is. Artist Takeshi Miyazawa makes Man-Wolf look like a furry Hulk compared to Spider-Gwen. He’s at least three times her size with huge muscles, sharp claws, and equally sharp teeth. He’s a real life version of the Big Bad Wolf and he’s ready to rip Gwen’s throat out.
Miyazawa creates an epic fight scene between these two that, despite the size difference, feels evenly matched. Gwen explains during this battle that she’s always had to hold back, but she doesn’t here. She can let this big beast feel every bit of her strength. That additional aggression comes in handy as Gwen practically dances around her opponent, using every wall and even the ceiling as a jumping off point to launch her attacks.
The tone of Spider-Gwen: Ghost-Spider changes when a fight begins. Colorist Ian Herring moves from the cool blues of the night to a bright yellow background. It’s like an electric current has been pumped through the comic, adding some additional intensity. It’s a great complement to Miyazawa’s energetic artwork.
For every blow Gwen lands, she follows it up with a great insult. Writer Seanan McGuire peppers in some top notch dialogue that shows just how perfectly Spider-Gwen fits into the overall Spider Family. My favorite comes when Man-Wolf throws out a line that he feels is super scary and Gwen just laughs in his big furry face. She suddenly can’t take him seriously at all after a line like that.
This witty dialogue is interspersed with her internal narration urging her to get up and keep going. This strikes a great balance between her thoughts to herself and what she shows the world. Even though she puts on a strong appearance, she’s still scared on the inside and rightfully so. She’s fighting a big werewolf. Letterer Clayton Cowles excels with the placement of Gwen’s word balloons and caption boxes, creating a nice mix between the two that flows well.
This issue stretches Spider-Gwen to her breaking point. It’s one thing to attack her, but when you hurt her friends, that’s an entirely different story. Man-Wolf’s build-up feels like it was cut short here, so I hope we haven’t seen the last of him. There’s a lot more to unpack with him as a big bad, serving as a Kingpin of sorts in this world, although a much more monstrous version.