GWEN STACY: SPIDER-WOMAN hits on a sensory level; from page one, we're locked in with Robbi Rodriguez' and Rico Renzi's bright, in-your-face visuals, but it's also nearly impossible not to have a little soundtrack playing in your head.
The character design is stunning -- we've known that since the first teaser images came out -- and the creative team really keeps the energy up on all levels. Spider-Gwen is dynamic, thiwp-ing and thawp-ing with a parkour energy across bold, neon-streaked panels. The SFX are rockin' and completely tone-setting, and the overall effect is gorgeous.
It's easy enough, given the compact format, to go with cookie-cutter inversions with this story, but Latour doesn't do it. This Gwen isn't the usual Gwen avec spider-bite, nor is she Rule 63 Peter Parker. Gwen has attitude and is very much the protagonist here, her relationships with other characters are interesting riffs on what we're used to, and we get to see new dimensions of Ms. Stacy that make her both an easy character to cheer for and a nuanced, flawed human. All of the requisite Spidey angles are present -- it's a Spider-Verse story, after all -- but Gwen is totally her own brand of Spider-Woman.
I'd read an entire miniseries about Spider-Gwen. That there's such limited space to introduce this version of the world and start (and wrap) a story is a shame; Latour and Rodriguez could've run much deeper with more pages. (I'll be looking out for AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #9, but I'd love to see this Gwen in more issues.)
EOS:GS:SW nods appropriately to familiar Spidey characters and lore, but twists the script enough that it's really something of its own. The mark of a good What If? story is its ability to balance the existing continuity with bold, exciting ideas, and this issue really lands. I can't wait to see more Spider-Gwen in ASM #9, and I'm glad that this book was at the top of my pile this week.