With the exception of Spider-Woman #4, the first issues of this solo series were a big letdown. However, with the release of issue #5, the book takes a turn for the fantastic. By pulling away from “Spider-Verse” and moving down to a street level, Jessica finally finds her place. Spider-Woman #5 launches a distinct Jessica Drew and sets up an enthralling mystery to solve, highlighting just how good a story focused on the curious Spider-Woman can be.
Rocking a new costume and flashing forward five weeks from #4, this book registers as the direct opposite of its redundant “Spider-Verse” issues. The book is flush with interesting details: little jabs at Spider-Man, a rundown of her crazy history, and some surprising twists that all manage to make the book exciting. More importantly, all of the jokes are spot-on and don’t detract from the meat of the story. Visuals and dialogue gags like porcupine supervillaisn and a sequence wherein Jess plays charades in prison are a far cry from the cringe-worthy poop jokes that were told earlier on in the series. Jessica appears as a strong individual with real personality and direction, two things which were previously lacking from this series. This issue is clearly meant to reacquaint people with Jessica and set up an exhilarating arc, and it succeeds. At times, it feels as if this is all moving too fast, but for the most part, Spider-Woman #5 keeps readers engaged and guessing what trouble Jessica will get into next.
Though Jessica is fascinating on her own, the inclusion of Ben Urich gives issue #5 more depth. He’s a straight shooter with an inquisitive nature whose banter with Jessica works well. As Jessica unsuccessfully tries to figure out her role in her new reality, Urich guides her toward an investigation perfect for her skill set. He understands that Jessica wants some normality, but that she also retains a lingering desire for superheroics, and he offers her the best of both worlds. Most interestingly, he forces Jessica to question her preconceived notions about criminals and the way the world works. Even in just one issue, the script showcases how Jessica might grow with Urich at her side. With clear voices for both Spider-Woman and Urich, Dennis Hopeless’ script is more confident than ever and underscores the real potential of this series.
In addition to an engaging story, Javier Rodriguez’s art breathes life into this series. Completely different from Greg Land’s more mature, sexualized version of Jessica; Rodriguez’s rendition is fun, youthful, and crisp. Jess hasn’t lost her curvaceous body but Rodriguez’s art is a testament to how a woman in comics doesn’t have to wear a tight outfit or pose in ways that accentuate her chest to retain her shape. Her entire look is one that is much more relatable and realistic than ever before. No matter how much some people may have liked Spider-Woman’s previous costume, this one makes much more sense for a girl who wants to stay off the grid. She wouldn’t have been able to start over if she was sporting the same outfit that she’s had since her days with Hydra, so this is a much-needed change. The coloring is also vibrant with an air of mystery to it, rounding out this new feel for Spider-Woman. There’s a dynamic quality with Rodriguez on board that boosts the value of the issue as a whole.
If I had known that this was coming, I would have told everyone to stay away from previous issues and start here. This should have been Spider-Woman #1; it’s a fantastic, enthusiastic beginning that promises many great things to come. I can’t wait to see how this mystery unfolds and how Jessica evolves over the course of this series. For the first time since picking up Spider-Woman, I’m actually excited to come back for more, and hopefully both Hopeless and Rodriguez keep it up.
Spider-Woman #5 marks a new direction for Jessica Drew. With an interesting mystery to solve, fun art, and the inclusion of Ben Urich, this issue establishes the beginning of an exciting, action-packed arc for Spider-Woman.