Spider-Women: Alpha #1 REVIEW: 9.3/10. Jess, Cindy, and Gwen brunch and battle on Earth-65

Spider-Women Alpha #1 cover

Spider-Women Alpha #1 cover

Review by Draven Katayama (loudlysilent)

“Silk” writer Robbie Thompson kicks off the Spider-Women crossover with a fun issue that excels at capturing Jess, Cindy, and Gwen’s very different personalities. Jess gets a babysitter (Roger, from “Spider-Woman”!) so the three can go out for brunch. Brunch on Earth-65 turns, unsurprisingly, to being stuck on Earth-65 when something happens to Gwen’s dimensional travel watch.

I like how Thompson shows Cindy as continuing to search for any information about her missing parents, which is consistent with what’s happening in “Silk.” Jess’ need for a day out and Gwen’s total disinterest in kids prompt a number of funny lines. While Gwen’s antipathy towards Cindy and her immaturity is a little abrasive, it sets up Jess confronting Gwen on her own challenges adapting to recent events. The nonstop talk about food — crepes, a fried peanut butter cup, mochas — adds to the fun factor.

Spider-Women food 1

Vanesa R. Del Rey’s (“Hit: 1957”) heavy, sharp ink lines beautifully illustrate panels from an assortment of angles. No scene looks boring or rushed. Del Rey draws much of this issue from overhead, with incredible detail in backgrounds. Look at the people in the pink hamster tube-like slides in Clowntown early in the issue.

I like the opening conversation between Cindy and Gwen, where Del Rey and Jordie Bellaire give both characters stylish fashion details, and Cindy’s red top and Gwen’s turquoise hoodie contrast vividly. The artists also create exciting action scenes when our three heroes encounter a giant robot. Del Rey is so gifted at telling the story visually that a reader would be able to tell what’s happening even if there were no text.

This crossover allows readers to see a story unfold from the perspectives of three very different characters. Jessica Drew is a veteran Avenger, a mom, and a survivor of years of multiple instances of trauma. Gwen has a strong support network of friends (whom we see in part 2 of this Spider-Women event, “Spider-Gwen” #7) and seems relatively at ease on her home turf of Earth-65. Cindy is Thompson’s wild card: she’s impulsive and fixated on her parents’ disappearance. She hasn’t locked into the comfort and safety of a normal civilian life yet.

This creative team delivers on every page. Jess, Cindy, and Gwen are three very different people who support each other as found family. “Spider-Women” takes a simple premise — being stranded in a faraway place — and captivates with entertaining dialogue and riveting art.

RATING: 9.3/10

Release date: April 6, 2016

Spider-Women Alpha #1 Stacey Lee variant