From an outsider’s perspective, Spider-Woman is cool. She kicks butt, she’s funny, and she manages it all as a new mom. However, when you look closer, you can see that the cool exterior is juxtaposed by trying to handle Porcupine, bumbling around a bit before getting the bad guys, and sometimes acting before she thinks. She isn’t perfect and Spider-Woman #11 uses that to its advantage.
While issue #11 ties into “Civil War II” and a big Marvel event, it is a comic that underscores Jess as a person. She is more than just a hero; she is also someone with relationships that she cares deeply about maintaining. Hopeless utilizes quirky yet touching flashbacks of Spider-Woman’s flirtatious relationship with Bruce Banner to underscore Jess’ emotional state after finding out her ex, Hawkeye, killed him. This isn’t just the Hulk that Hawkeye killed, but a man that Jess could tease for his rigid ways and a complex Avenger that Spider-Woman could tame in her own unique ways. Through the scenes we see of Jessica with the Hulk and Bruce Banner, Hopeless allows us to understand exactly the rage and sadness she now has to grapple with because of Ulysses. These moments aren’t about Jessica Drew the cool superhero, they focus on Jessica Drew the emotional human who has lost someone special, and that’s exactly what makes it a compelling read.
In addition to depicting Jess wading through grief, we see how this loss will impact her future. In the past few issues, the relationship between Carol and Jessica has been at the forefront. They fight and they bicker, but they love each other. At this point, it’s an established fact. Yet, most of that has changed now. When Carol stops Jessica from reaching Clint, she acts as if this is any other tension she and Jess have had to get past. She wants to jump to the end, when neither she nor Jess have truly begun to mourn and heal. The decision to treat this murder so lightly is Carol’s biggest flaw and it’s one I hope is unpacked well past the end of the event. Jessica is a ball of rage, Carol acts as if the murder is no big deal, and there is no middle ground between those two very different opinions. Both sides have an unhealthy lining to them, and that rings true to what we non-superpowered beings go through when experiencing a big loss. It’s the most human I’ve seen either character, and I can only wish Hopeless will give us more of it.
Though I appreciate the comic as a whole, for those of us not following a majority of “Civil War II,” the ending is a bit unsatisfactory. After such an emotive issue, it doesn’t feel right to go from that to a light-hearted romp with Jess and the gang. Jessica spends this issue thinking about her friendship with the Hulk, her feelings toward her ex-boyfriend, and the way she wants to handle her best friend. These are all big aspects of her life that demand more than twenty-some pages. It feels cheap to go from that to the promise of an issue #12 that features diaper antics and joking with Porcupine.
As someone who isn’t following everything to do with this event, I wasn’t given enough time to really get a grasp of it. Yes, it’s great to see a deeper level to one of my favorite girls, but what will the long-term impacts be? Between issues #10 and #11, we get the beginning of Jess’ involvement and the end, but we are not shown anything more than the surface of this event. I long for something more clarifying, and that’s what keeps me from going all in with this issue.
Backing the strong script of this comic is the art of Veronica Fish. Even though the finishes were lackluster in #10, Fish has a stronger feel for Spider-Woman here. It’s smooth, fresh, and features magnificently composed scenes of Jessica’s big break-in. She has an animalistic quality as she crawls around, pounces on Carol, and stalks around like a caged cat. The art here encapsulates Spider-Woman’s inner turmoil effortlessly, and is a seamless addition to Hopeless’ words.
If you’re not following “Civil War II,” Spider-Woman #11 is still a necessary read for anyone who wants to discover the depth of this heroine. Jessica Drew loses more than just the Hulk in this issue, she loses her best friend, her ex, and maybe a little bit of herself, too. So, go pick it up now, and prepare for all the feels.
Dennis Hopeless creates an emotional issue of Spider-Woman that smoothly highlights the fallout of "Civil War II." With a tight script, personal writing, and support from Veronica Fish's art, this is a confident addition to Marvel's greater event.