Spider-Verse Epilogue Review & Spoilers: Spider-Woman #5 By Dennis Hopeless, Javier Rodriguez & Alvaro Lopez

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SPIDER-WOMAN {4th Series} #5 Review & Spoilers
“Help” (20 pages)
Story by: Dennis Hopeless
Pencils & Colors by: Javier Rodriguez
Inks by: Alvaro Lopez
Design by: Kris Anka
Letters by: VC’s Travis Lanham
Covers by: Javier Rodriguez; Kris Anka, Siya Oum
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $3.99

How refreshingly sweet this is!! I was not expecting this issue to be so grounded. I’m glad it has shed its super-heroine-by-the-numbers storytelling. In no way am I disrespecting Mr. Hopeless but having the first four issues tie into Spider-Verse didn’t really do Jessica any justice. She is far better-suited in this new arc! I’ll preface this review by professing that I’m so digging the different direction.

Editor’s Notes:

Along with Jessica Drew, the original Spider-Woman, who gets a new costume in Spider-Women #5 this week, two more Spider-Women got the ongoing series treatment over the last two weeks as fallout from the Spider-Man centric Spider-Verse storyline. Cindy Moon’s Silk debuted two weeks ago with a shiny #1 issue and last week we have an alternate universe’s Gwen Stacy as Spider-Gwen who gets the #1 treatment.

Also, if you thought Spider-Verse was over, guess again. Spider-Verse returns in Secret Wars!

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Back to Paul’s review!

Jess informs us True Believers by giving us a sit-rep of the last five weeks. Firstly, she quit Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. Horror of horrors!! Secondly, she’s no longer a spy either. End result? Giving up the sweetest gig on the planet to live among the plebes eking a living. Her barbs at her origin and formation, not to mention the dating game are laugh-out-loud-worthy or deserving of some snickers. Jess is riding through the Big Apple on her bike (oddly cool for a woman with arachnid abilities). There is no real definition of ‘normal’. It’s all so subjective. Will she succeed in trudging through an ordinary existence? Not on your life!! Jumping ahead here, Jess sums it up poignantly: “You have your normal, I have mine.

No sooner does Jess’ contemplation end when a massive cry for help is uttered. Some ‘damsel in distress’ is being attacked by an armored individual. Jess has been in the game enough years that she’s delighted in kicking it old school (pun intended!) She also relishes the helping part as much as the hurting part. Villains: beware the Spider-Woman! She might be sued for copyright infringement or border on genderswapping when she spits out one of Peter’s catchphrases. After issuing an apology (to the victim? the readers? herself?), she proceeds to ID herself to her defenseless proxy. Dennis Hopeless throws in the biggest jab by referring to a controversial depiction of Jessica’s posterior in her former costume. You certainly have chutzpah, Mr. Hopeless!! Any bona-fide fan will know that Jess can’t actually spin webs (le sigh) but she carries around zip-ties for gift-wrapping. Neato, mosquito!! Imagine her shock (and mine/yours) when a police officer is found inside the armor :0

Busted!! Jess has been punked big time by the NYPD. They’re none too friendly towards the supers crowd. In fact, the ‘damsel’ is downright resentful that she had to do proper paperwork to organize a SWAT exercise involving a legit superhuman. This is Jess’ lucky night! The high road isn’t going to work for Spider-Woman. What’s next? Hard time!! It seems like Jess’ brief stint in the slammer might turn ugly. Instead, out of left field, she takes a turn at Charades with her cellmates. No one can guess her movie title. The guard ruins it by providing the answer and just as quick as she entered, she exits.

Introduce the new supporting cast member — Ben Urich. Once again, I’m thrown for a loop. An unexpected but pleasant surprise. Ben has always been a staunch ally of the heroes, mainly the man without fear, Daredevil. One can say he has been a rock for the community and is stalwart in his own right. At any rate, Jess assumes he’s there to pay her bail. NOPE!! Another twist to this tale: Jess wasn’t charged with any actual crime. She was kept under wraps for 12 hours not as punishment but as humiliation. Footage of her snafu has hit the world wide web. Even Ben is hip to the game. His niece texted him one of many ‘funny photos’. Ben affirms what I previously stated – cops are not on the same side as their above-human counterparts.

Ben wants to talk. Jess is all ears because all she wants to do is smash. Is she channeling Hulk?!? Appropriately, at her old P.I. office, Jess proceeds in pounding anything within sight. This is an obvious indicator that her past is long gone. A new road lies ahead. Jess relays her mission statement to the crime investigator: help is the name of the game. Ben fills in the blanks (and the last five weeks) summarizing Jess’ success rate. It’s anything but. He flat out tells her she’s failing miserably. A super-heroine doesn’t really dwell on the effects of her actions but he blatantly points it out: massive damage to property and bodies. He wants her help. He fits the bill because he’s normal.

Fast forward to the more modern, ground-level Daily Bugle office. Jess tagged along despite not expressing any interest. Who is she kidding? Her innate desire to do good and her former detective self can’t ignore the dangling carrot. Her reward will be lunch after looking at one of Ben’s files. I chuckled at her surprise upon eyeing an actual file, with stuffed papers in a folder. For a character created in the 70’s, she’s sure caught up to speed with all the hi-tech stuff. C’mon, Jess. This is old school at its best! Ben presents to her three missing women. The case is made more mysterious due to the disappearances not being reported. At first, Jess cannot make a connection to the trio. Ben sheds light by listing off lame-o villains and how these women are their better halves. Another loser villain – Leap Frog – did file a report on his missing daughter. Shortly after he filed, he retracted. He also had the mishap of being humiliated and hospitalized by DD in their last encounter. He’s now in a coma so he is of no help whatsoever.

Jess walks away. These cases are literally of zero interest to her. How come? Due to her inherit prejudice of super-villains. She curses herself since she almost bought into Ben’s pleas. She even muses having a ‘Watson’ to her ‘Holmes’. Perhaps it’s the other way around!? Jess is itching for a good old-fashioned fight. She really wants to premiere her new boots by cramming them up some baddy’s derrière. Wish granted!! Serendipitously, she stumbles upon a bank robbery in progress. The perp?? The Porcupine!! *snort* *guffaw* *giggle* *tee-hee* Mr. Hopeless has become so pro at the funny stuff!! Jess has to ask herself and the villain aloud if he’s carrying out an actual crime or if it’s some performance art. Fool her once, shame on the police. Fool her twice, shame on her. Cosplay? No way, José! She insults the man by labelling him a hedgehog (anyone get that reference?) before he corrects her. As he hurls the safe at her, she elegantly dodges. This is followed by jumping in mid-air, firing the venom blasts (woot!), flipping over, kicking in his face, and ready to make putty of his face. She freezes when he begs her to let him finish the job for the sake of his daughter. Spider-Woman is stunned!!

Jess will admit she’s wrong. She beats up herself a bit for being smug and for letting her prejudices cloud her judgment. Jess looks more into the file. She grabs it and crawls away. She will talk to Urich and apologize but only after investigating on her own. Timing is everything. Ben walks in and spots Jess and Porky on the bike as they take off. He has his own smug grin. I know for sure he has no evil alignment but man, does he ever look dastardly!! Game. Set. Match.

I’ll repeat and expand on my previous statement. This book is completely worthy of Dennis Hopeless’ skills. He’s surpassed himself with the writing!! He is free of the chains that are crossovers. He’s made the new Spider-Woman approachable, more human than human, and downright funny!! Aside from the venom blasts and the wall-crawling, he deliberately tones down her extraordinary abilities. She was web-wings but travels around on a motorcycle. Again, über-cool. [Sidenote: maybe Jess can run her own Uber service.] He wonderfully recaps her origin and convoluted backstory in a few short sentences before having the plot move forward. Jess is undergoing her own reboot. This is a most welcome change.

Javier Rodriguez has had the most fun with this story and it shows. Aside from the color scheme, the new costume is really just a practical ensemble put together that puts the chic in freak. The clothes fit perfectly but are not skintight like spandex. Jess looks attractive but not femme fatale-ish nor is she a disproportionate ‘bad girl’. She could pass off as a regular citizen were you to bump into her on the busy streets of the big city. He really makes Jess shine when she’s in her former office as the slivers of sun peak through the blinds highlighting her visage. Ben couldn’t look more friendly or (grand)fatherly. He is a friend in need. The two villains are played for laughs. The ‘robot’s’ expression is the biggest emoji I’ve ever seen. Porcupine looks purposely ridiculous.

Alvaro Lopez adeptly assists Javier. The pouring rain effectively highlights the inner turmoil in Jess’ life despite her willingness to embark on a different journey. He makes Spider-Woman look lithe and supple like her namesake when she’s upside-down in Ben’s office.

Credit has to be given to Kris Anka for the costume update. There’s a design variant to honour his work, man! I foresee many cosplayers in the near future. Heck, I’d do it (and maybe will). The black is a better choice for stealth or shadow strategy. The red and yellow are reminders of her origins. They will never fade from view.

Travis Lanham keeps busy with the various onomatopoeia. As always, I get a kick at the inventive ways sounds can be created, then transcribed. The newest one being KAZAT at the firing of the venom blasts. The big block letters in “HELP” also illustrate the chase. Clever, indeed! Mr. Lanham also does a superb job with the Daily Bugle logo.


I will indulge myself (and you) with the humorous parts [allusions, actions, anecdotes]:

• Jess’ parents being mad scientists (You can say that again!)
• Hail Hydra High School (That should be an actual name!)
• Nick Fury University (Make it happen!)
• Hawkeye will always be the non-powered BF to Marvel’s maidens (Score for him!)
• Multiversal Spider-Orgy (Oh my! Sounds about right. Get your minds out of the gutter!)
• Maria Hill (A little too chirpy or all-out harpy?)
• The heel on Jess’ boot breaking (EVERY woman’s worst fashion nightmare!!)
• “Surly neighborhood Spider-Woman” (Spidey might sue her!)
• Jess’ butt / Google-shame (For those in the dark, this is a dig on Milo Manara’s controversial cover to issue #1. I’m glad Marvel didn’t renege on the deal.)
• Captain Old Man America (What does that cop have against Cap?)
• Charades in the cell (Either Jess is a terrible mime or her cellmates just plain suck at guessing.)
• “Raging Bull” (Clear cinematic classic. Jess’ new moniker?)
• “Rocky 4” (No respect for the franchise!)
• Daredevil having no secret ID but still trying to cover it up. (He had more than one party for that?!?)
• Pun #1: “the charges couldn’t stick on Spider-Woman” Yuck, yuck, yuck!
• Pouring coffee to Ben. (That’s what I call a crackpot!) BAZINGA!
• Jess equating herself as Sherlock Holmes and Ben as John Watson. The new James Bond and Miss Moneypenny is more like it!
• Rogues’ gallery (Play laugh track continuously!)
• Green Bank (Really? A better name was already used?)
• Porcupine saying “man” twice to Jess. Gender-bending?
• Jess alludes to Sonic, the Hedgehog. (Definitely dissing Porky!)
• Pun #2: “I’m a porcupine!” “Seems like that makes my point. Not yours.
• Great extension of wordplay: “Come on, man.” “Coming.”

Let me just finish by saying that Jess has some real violent tendencies!! She has a foot fetish (her own) and a serious butt fixation!!

In light of the all-new, all-different (love it! times infinity), I give this book a 9 on Jessica Drew’s/Spider-Woman’s bucket list.

This makes it three-for-three in terms of the webbed wonders spotlighted. Congrats, Jess! You, Gwen, and Cindy make a terrific titanic trio!!!

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