The artist Robbi Rodriguez really broke through with the five issues of Spider Gwen, whose own series was launched after Spider-Verse, and ended just before Secret Wars. He also drew some Wolverine & the X-Men issues, the All New X-Men #25 among others like Mahmud Asrar and David Marquez. It is with a great pleasure that we find Robbi Rodriguez‘s drawings for the first relaunch of Spider Gwen, with he author Jason Latour – the same author of the original series.
After the Vulture and Matt Murdock, it is time for the Lizard, the one who apparently really killed Peter Parker – and not Gwen – to make an appearance. His face hidden in the shadow, only his red eyes and yellow teeth glow in the dark. He looks threatening towards the costumed dog, with the dribble of saliva dripping from his mouth. Robbi Rodriguez‘s style is very graphic, the lines are far more important than the colors in his drawings : look again at the dribble of saliva, or even the cloud of smoke escaping from the manhole cover. Like a terrible apparition, the Lizard arises from the sewers to devour a comic little animal. But the Lizard is crawling towards us, towards our own space : the dog is not the only one at stake in this picture, we – the spectators – are in danger too.
Luckily for us, Spider Gwen is never far away. Breaking into Doctor Connors’ office, Gwen is trying to understand what happened outside. How could the Lizard be the hidden menace in the city, since he died with Peter Parker ? Gwen knows what most of the people don’t : Peter Parker was the Lizard. What a twist : not only on Earth 65 Gwen is Spider-Woman and Peter died in her arms, but he is the Lizard ! In order to become special and to have powers, just like Gwen, he experimented on himself and turned into the Lizard. Finally Peter, just like Gwen, had a secret identity. The problem of secret identities is exactly the key point of this page, thanks to the mirrors. Every panel has a broken mirror or glass in it, and on the last two panels, a mirror reflects Gwen’s face. On the third it is Spider Gwen, but on the fourth it’s Gwen herself. The super-heroin lets the girl appear, because Gwen has to deal with what happened, and not Spider Gwen. The fourth panel is wonderfully designed : everything around Gwen’s reflect is shattered, except around her head. Half broken, the mirror reflects Gwen’s double identity, one broken, the other almost intact. But which is which ? Is Gwen’s life happier, more stable, than Spider Gwen’s ? Is Gwen’s life less dramatic, or is it Spider Gwen’s ?
We have to take a look on Gwen’s and Spider Gwen’s past to understand. Most of the time, it is because what happens in Gwen’s life than Spider Gwen gets in troubles. It’s because Peter Parker was molested that he turned into the Lizard in the high school’s hallways, to finally end up dead in Spider Gwen’s arms. The top half of the page, with three horizontal panels, is a very active one, unlike the bottom half on the page with three vertical panels. The top half takes place in the high-school, and Gwen is involved, whereas on the bottom half it is Spider Gwen who’s involved. Her sad face on the fourth panel reminds me of the time she confessed to Peter Parker of Earth 616 that she couldn’t save her own Peter Parker (see Spider Gwen and the drawing of Olivier Coipel). Despite her mask, we can see how crushed by this tragedy she is.
Leading an investigation in the sewers, Gwen discovers that not only one Lizard live there, but four more. Ambushed, Spider Gwen is fighting them – rather losing to them – until a mysterious shield stuns them. Who’s shield is it ? It has the blue-white-red colors of a Captain America shield, so is it his ? Or the alternate version of Captain America on Earth 65? Unlike the other pages, this one is not regularly composed with rectangular panels. Two of them are cuboids, which enhances the disorder of the fight, its chaos. With simple lines, extremely well drawn, Robbi Rodriguez indicates every gestures, every moves, of the battle, giving his battle scene a better readability.
This first episode allows Robbi Rodriguez and Jason Latour to continue on where they had to stop the adventures of their Spider Gwen. The story is breathless, and the cliffhanger well found : who is Gwen’s savior ? But the real question for which I’m eager to get an answer to is who’s hiding under the first Lizard’s disguise ? Is it Peter Parker ? Kurt Connors ? And who are the four other Lizards ?