I’m going to preface this review by saying that slapstick is the type of comedy I find least funny. It can be great in small, quick doses and definitely is a good fit for the comics medium with artists having unlimited ability to draw all kinds of wacky faces and gestures. However, it doesn’t work well when one gag is the driving force of a comic’s plot, like in the case of Spider-Woman #17, which is about Jessica Drew’s son Gerry getting superpowers and reads like Boss Baby sans Alec Baldwin and plus superheroes.
But Spider-Woman #17 isn’t a total bust. Writer Dennis Hopeless and artist Veronica Fish bring out some choice cattiness in dialogue and facial expressions when Black Widow isn’t impressed by her dating the former Porcupine, Roger Gocking. Their sniping with other superheroes, like Hawkeye and Carol Danvers, playing referee are the most hilarious parts of this issue. Fish gives each hero stylish civilian clothes (Except for Spider-Man, who is still fully in costume.), which highlights the outrageousness of them arguing like middle schoolers. And then Gerry pops out of the house and kicks a lot of them in the face, including Black Widow, whose parkour moves are no match for the Super Gerry Sweeping Swan Kick. (Sadly, no one calls it that in the comic.) Colorist Rachelle Rosenberg gives his energy blasting a distinct gross, yet mysterious green color that resembles Terrigen Cloud vomit, but is visually striking.
In the background and providing the heart of Spider-Woman #17 (and the whole run arguably) is Roger, who finds solace taking care of Gerry away from the silently (Except for Natasha, who is kind of the worst in this issue.) judging superheroes. And even when he gets thrown into a Veronica Fish double page spread featuring Gerry turning into an energy blasting, human equivalent of one of those annoying bouncy balls from the dollar store, Roger is a perfect dad figure, boyfriend, and worthy of both of the monologues that Jessica spouts about him.
The superheroes that Jessica invites to her party represent traditional superhero storytelling where villains are redeemed, but only to serve the story before it’s time to bring them back when an arc gets stale. Hopeless and Fish have subverted this in their run on Spider-Woman where Roger gets to be a friend and close confidant of Jessica Drew and her rock as she balances being a superhero and single mom. Then, after all the build-up and baby/guy in a porcupine suit bonding, he becomes Jessica’s boyfriend. Roger started out as silly villain punching bag, but Hopeless and Fish have given him a personality, sense of humor, and a great relationship with our protagonist.
Too much of Spider-Woman #17’s running time is given to repetitive slapstick shenanigans, but it is nice to see a superhero, like Jessica Drew, who has been through some fairly dark situations since her first appearance in 1977 (See Brian Michael Bendis’ New Avengers run.) find happiness in both her superhero and personal life as a single mom and friend. Dennis Hopeless, Veronica Fish, and Rachelle Rosenberg deserve credit for giving her and Roger fantastic, overall character arcs and also fixing her friendship with Carol Danvers even in the face of Civil War II although this issue isn’t one of the series’ better ones.
Story: Dennis Hopeless Art: Veronica Fish Colors: Rachelle Rosenberg
Story: 7 Art: 7 Overall: 7 Recommendation: Read
Marvel Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review