I have never enjoyed mystery novels. They’re boring, a little predictable, and rarely leave me satisfied when I hit the last page. However, the latest issues of Spider-Woman have left me reconsidering my dislike for this genre. Shockingly enough, Spider-Woman is predominantly a mystery, but it’s fun, and it can even be heartwarming at times. It’s the opposite of all my preconceived notions about fictional mysteries. The reason why this book works so well in this format is that the arc doesn’t follow the standard formula, neither becoming too dark nor excessively serious. Instead, the tone manages to be over the top and a bit silly, with a few dashes of intrigue. Between Dennis Hopeless’ dynamic writing and Javier Rodriguez’s energetic art, Spider-Woman has become a lively series with a clear direction that leaves me wishing the book was biweekly.
With Spider-Woman #7, Hopeless satisfyingly balances Jessica’s quick humor against the forward momentum of the plot. There are quips about how cute clothes rarely survive crime fighting, clues about what’s happening to the families of these D-list villains, and moon pies, a dessert guaranteed to make any comic better. The only thing missing is Porcupine. He has a handful of panels, but doesn’t share many of them with Spider-Woman. Their dynamic is easily one of the best parts of this arc, and he’s quickly becoming just as essential to the team as Ben Urich. Although Ben keeps up with Jessica mentally, Porcupine is there to be the recipient of all of her sharp sarcasm, which is what Jess really needs in her life.
Just as important as Hopeless’ writing is the art that breathes a very particular vision of life into this story. Though I’ve praised the art in earlier reviews, the cover for Spider-Woman #7 is misleading. The cover art featuring Kangaroo and the other villains fighting for the lives of their families alongside the bold statement of this being a six on one encounter hint at a big battle to come. Yet, there is no follow through. I enjoy a colorful, enthralling cover, but I also appreciate a cover that relates to what’s inside, and Rodriguez’s cover only satisfies one of these desires. What would have been a great match for #6, is one that doesn’t work quite as well with #7. However, throughout the issue itself, his art is an asset to the series as a whole. It balances starkness and youthfulness, giving it a distinctive, exciting feel.
Spider-Woman #7 isn’t particularly heavy on character development, but this dearth functions as a way in which to finally get some answers to this mystery first established in Spider-Woman #5. Despite this issue being driven more by action, Spider-Woman has gone from a character that I had trouble understanding to one with whom I can now easily relate. She makes mistakes, but she’s also a strong woman, and it’s refreshing to see she isn’t being boxed into a corner where she’s solely defined by her looks and pheromone powers. Those who think Spider-Woman is only interesting when her sexiness is played up need only see her in the porcupine costume she sports here to realize otherwise.
The only thing that makes me sad is that I have no idea what’s going to happen to Jess after this arc is over and we’re thrust into Secret Wars. With Marvel’s threat that “Secret Wars” will change everything, I’m already mourning the potential loss of a girl who’s finally hit her stride. Spider-Woman #7 keeps up the momentum established in earlier issues and provides just enough answers to garner interest in what will unfold in the future, so it’d be a shame if this is muddied because of Marvel’s big event. Either way, I can’t wait to see how this arc is resolved because it will go down as one of Jessica’s defining moments as a hero, which is something I’ve been searching for since I first picked up her original series.
Spider-Woman #7 is a humorous mystery tale with a momentum that cannot be stopped. Dennis Hopeless begins to answers the questions first established in issue #5 and Javier Rodriguez's art continues to dazzle in new and inventive ways.