Written by Seanan McGuire, Pencils by Takeshi Miyazawa, Color by Ian Herring, Lettering by Clayton Cowles.
Gwen Stacy finds herself caught between a (smoothed out) rock and a hard place in Ghost Spider #1. Seanan McGuire deftly balances a spider hanging between two massive webs, but can it hold?
GS #1 finds Ms. Stacy enrolling in Earth-616's (that's Marvel proper) Empire State University. The reason given is that she needs a new normal, after being branded a criminal in her home universe (Earth-65). Between this clunky setup and her new suit's powers, and her ability to jump between dimensions—yes, she will still be patrolling in Earth-65— it might be more than a new reader could bear. Fortunately, McGuire relies heavily on the characters and relationships within the GS universe.
McGuire writes dialogue and banter with the best of them, making all the sci-fi babble fade to the background. In the end, you'll care about Stacy/Ghost-Spider because of how she speaks, and how she puts those words to action. As this is the beginning of this series, McGuire smartly establishes some central relationships, namely Earth-616 Peter Parker and Earth-65 Gwen Stacy. It's nice to know where these two stand by book's end. Additionally, Stacy's actions reflect and affect her friends and family in Earth-65, creating a novella-like potential for drama in future issues.
Oddly enough, despite this being the first issue of GS, it is not the most reader-friendly jumping on point for a book. Granted Gwen Stacy/Spider-Gwen/Ghost-Spider has seen more than her fair share of title reboots, the story here relies heavily on events from the previous volume. While it's not the most egregious sin, it can be a bit of a speed bump for some new readers. Optimistically, if the issue grabs, readers will go back and find the lead-up issues from the last volume. A win/win for Marvel publishing.
The art from Takeshi Miyazawa and Ian Herring is at times fast and fluid. Not unlike a well-placed web-shot. Ghost-Spider glides through the air with grace and picturesque poise. Once Stacy is in her street/student clothes, things appear...normal. This isn't a criticism, it truly lends to the feel of following a young adult at a transitional period in her life. It's Felicity or Veronica Mars, put to page. Brilliantly done. Herring's colors pop with familiarity. The blues, pinks, and whites, swirl and explode off the page.
McGuire shows her mastery of the cliffhanger, and promises so much more with the dual identity/dual existence of a very famous Spider-Man villain at book's end. In lesser hands, a multi-dimensional-hopping teen transitioning to an adult would be a chore. Luckily Gwen Stacy and the readers have McGuire weaving an entertaining web.
Edge of Spider-Verse #2 (First Appearance as Spider-Woman, 2014)
Spider-Gwen Vol. 2, #24 (First Appearance as Venom, 2017)
Spider-Gwen Vol. 2, #34 (First Appearance as Spider-Gwen, 2018)
Spider-Gwen: Ghost-Spider (2018-2019)