A handful of promotional images over the last few months have driven a lot of interest in this book, and for that Marvel deserves a lot of credit. It's not often you can get the fan boys and girls this worked up over a character concept that is completely unproven. The other recent example that comes to mind is the soon-to-launch Batgirl series over at DC. I think what both of these examples prove is that the ever-growing female comic book reading demographic is having a visible impact on hype, fan communities and sales, and there is definitely room in the market for more superhero titles aimed at female readers.
So, after so much fanfare and hype, how is this issue of Edge of Spider-Verse?
Well, it's okay. I like the concept of bringing Gwen back to the page, but with a radically different history and background. Having Peter Parker's death be intimately involved in her becoming a hero is narratively a pretty intelligent direction to go, and the supporting cast makes for a particularly interesting bit of reading since we already know all of them, but they have a radically different role in the Spider-Verse here.
Where this issue falters for me is that it is written by Jason LaTour, who's writing I am not a fan of. I haven't been able to enjoy a single issue of Wolverine and the X-Men since it relaunched with him at the helm, and that follows suit here, albeit to a lesser degree. LaTour's dialogue is weak, his quips aren't quippy, his characters lack voices that stand out from each other and I'm all-around not a fan of the stories he tells. What he does do right here though is to give the world that Gwen inhabits a familiar feel, but with different enough elements that the story feels new, so a tip of the hat for that.
The art, on the other hand, is quite well-suited to this character and the audience that Marvel is looking to gain.. Robbie Rodriguez and Rico Renzi provide an aesthetic similar to many other comic books aiming to acquire a large female readership. The colors are bright and vibrant (with strong lettering by Clayton Cowles that compliments it well), the lines are soft with a less-is-more approach to the inks and the characters are reminiscent of a particular styling that you find in titles such as Runaways, Batgirl (the new one), Young Justice, Ms. Marvel (current series) and so on. I think Marvel chose their art-team well here to compliment much of the advance interest from female readership that this title has been receiving.
It's one thing to alter existing heroes to add some diversity to the line (I.E. - Thor, Captain America, Ultimate Spider-Man etc.), but it is another thing entirely to develop new characters that can bring in a diverse audience and still stand on their own. Gwen Stacy Spider-Woman is a great example of Marvel doing just that. While it builds off of the Spider-Man franchise, it is a new character in many regards, and I can see this concept working on a regular basis. While this approach has gotten stale in the Ultimate line, I think Marvel is onto something here with Gwen Stacy Spider-Woman, so it will be intriguing to see where they take this concept next, and how that differs from what has been done with the Ultimate Universe of books.
Overall, this book is built off of internet hype, and while the writing isn't to my liking, I think the concept is good and the art really props the book up; it will be interesting to see what happens next.