Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Google+ Share on Reddit Share on Pinterest Share on Linkedin Share on Tumblr SPIDER-GWEN #23 BY HANNAH BLUMENRICH, JASON LATOUR, and JORDAN GIBSON Art Characterization Plot Summary SPIDER-GWEN #23 puts its focus on Gwen's band, as the group debates Spider-Woman's identity. There's an amusing early story with Utau, with excellent illustration. Beyond that, the story is for long time readers only. 81 %Less than Half TempoSPIDER-GWEN #23 opens with a distorted version of FAMILY FEUD. Gwen’s team is playing the Bodega Bandits and takes little time to defeat them. It’s a quirky little opening that promises a fun issue.It’s also the only time Gwen appears in the comic.Re-FocusedThe entire scene shifts to a bored Uatu, shifting through realities on his ‘TV.” Other Watchers rebuke his laziness while poking fun at the current Marvel Universe (“It’s all gotten so… dark. Clenched fists and gritted teeth and… Another Wolverine?”). It’s a really great meta-moment that fits perfectly with the Watchers. Artist/writer Hannah Blumenrich and artist Jordan Gibson add some great colors and slightly sloppy lines to give an out-of-this-world feel to the proceedings.READ: If you want a dose of SPIDER-GWEN, see her in our review of Issue #10!Courtesy of Marvel EntertainmentUatu focuses on Gwen’s reality, where the art becomes cleaner, and the story appears. MJ, Betty Brant, and Glory discuss Gwen’s identity for a few panels while attempting to play a show without her.It takes the entire issue.Prior Reading RequiredBlumenrich and co-writer Jason Latour took a turn focusing the book on side characters, and it isn’t necessarily a bad idea. Readers following since issue #1 have watched Gwen’s super-secret affect friends and family; now we get to see things from their perspective. The idea is fine, and it’s nice to see a lighter take on familiar faces (Uatu was correct about the darkness in modern Marvel). For first-timers (like me) though, it’s disappointing not to see Spider-Gwen in her own book. MJ and friends discuss her for only a few pages, then start focusing on the gig and all the hi-jinks and personal problems involved. It feels like an adult JOSIE AND THE PUSSYCATS story, mixed with the bright colors of JEM AND THE HOLOGRAMS.READ: Another revamped Marvel heroine takes the stage in JEAN GREY #6.Courtesy of Marvel EntertainmentThe character development is solid throughout. MJ’s past hang-ups hamper the band’s progress until Glory confronts her about her neediness. Betty has some fun Goth-teen moments at a party, and there’s an epic moment where MJ fights off Betty’s stalker. Everything is solid, but without Gwen, there’s not much to capture a first time reader. Long-timers will likely enjoy the read, and again, everything from the art to the story is solid. However, the book lacks real punch without Gwen’s involvement. It almost feels like this should’ve been a spin-off one-shot, rather than part of the main SPIDER-GWEN books.FINAL THOUGHTS ON SPIDER-GWEN #23SPIDER-GWEN #23 contains some good elements. There’s a sense of wackiness and meta-awareness with the Watcher segment. The character growth from the three girls is done well, and the book likely does well enough for fans. It’s not a story to pick up for a first-time reader though. It is still side characters hijacking a book, and taking away the biggest draw. As a result, it just has a flatness to it that can’t be avoided. The creative team deserves credit for something different, but next month will hopefully have more Spider-Gwen.