Review: Spider-Women Alpha Issue #1
“All together now,” Spider-Woman exclaims, as all three spider-women focus their abilities in one collective burst at the giant, green Super-Adaptoid that is causing mayhem on the streets of Earth-65. And with such spectacle, Marvel brings together three of its best leading ladies into one powerful, exciting and complex trio.
The narrative for this web-tastic team-up begins with a simple set-up: after Jessica passes her young infant onto Roger Gocking for babysitting (a commendable switch on society’s expectations of women to take on the baby-sitting duties) Cindy Moon, Gwen-Stacy and Jessica Drew all decide to take a relaxing brunch break, primarily to give Jessica some much needed respite from her stressful life as a new mother.
Gwen takes the trio to a childish restaurant on her Earth and the three catch up and discuss life. From the outset, it is clear that Gwen has an issue with Cindy, describing her as “not all there” and going out of her way to question Cindy’s sanity when she is not present.
The one thing that we enjoyed less here is that Cindy is effectively given a diminishing role in this issue. With Jessica playing a strong, nurturing, mentor role and Gwen playing a fun and ballsy role, Cindy is painted with more of a “poor damaged girl” brush, which is a shame, because in the individual comics of these heroines (all of which are still running alongside this single issue), Cindy’s comic Silk is by far the best and most interesting of the three.
Where Cindy’s wit and personality soars in her own comic, as she continually juggles an undercover mission and managing her personal life, in Spider-Women Alpha #1 she is portrayed in more of a broken light.
A key component to Cindy’s character is her having spent 10 years in a bunker and then emerging to find her family gone. This seems to be one key driver that prompts Gwen’s jibes in Cindy’s direction, while in Cindy’s own comic, her 10 year solitude is treated as much less of a debilitating obstacle.
To contrast this, when told “you don’t get out much, do you,” in her own comic, Cindy simply responds with: “you say that like it’s a bad thing” – a notably far more optimistic retort than how she comes across in Spider-Women Alpha #1, in which Cindy chooses to slink away quietly when she overhears Jessica and Gwen talking about her, and she often fails to provide rebuttals to Gwen’s challenging comments.
One reason for Cindy’s apparent back-seat here might be the revelation that this issue presents in its closing panels, which does offer a glorious respite for Cindy Moon (in a sense) and which does lead the comic in a very intriguing (if familiar) route, for future issues. Let’s just say that the villain choice is exceptional, not to mention exceptionally well-dressed too (and we’re not talking about the large green Super-Adaptoid).
It is not only Gwen who hurls negative comments at Cindy; at one point, when Cindy suggests looking for the alternate versions of her parents in Earth-65 (which is no small thing for Cindy, who is on a constant quest to find her parents), Jessica outright refuses and says that she wishes to do something more fun.
Gwen does bring all of the energy and fire that you’re used to seeing in her Spider-Gwen comic and remains a fun addition to the group. And she is portrayed as an imperfect character too, with her carelessness being the direct cause of the group falling into a problematic situation in the issue’s final pages.
Vanessa Del Rey’s art is quite strikingly different to what you’ll find in each of the heroines’ individual comics and this is a sumptuous and welcome change. Her adopted style is very similar to what Sean Murphy is doing elsewhere in the comic industry right now.
The cover art truly shines, with Yasmine Putri providing a stunning vision of the three ladies tied up in their own webbing – possibly something laced with double meaning – and another that shows gorgeous portraits of the three leading ladies.
Overall, we vastly enjoyed this first issue of Spider-Women Alpha. This is a multiverse-hopping conversational catch up that quickly turns into a well-weaved slug-fest, intertwined admittedly with some very spiteful gossiping along the way. But everything is made right in the end with that absolutely crucial villain choice, which is a salivating one that makes us very excited indeed to see what’s coming in future issues of both Spider-Women Alpha and of the heroines’ own individual comics (Silk, Spider-Gwen and Spider-Woman).
Image Credits: Marvel