In the new movie Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, audiences are introduced to Spider-Gwen, voiced by Hailee Steinfeld. While comic book fans will be familiar with the character, Spider-Gwen is branching out from the comic panels into new mediums. Gwen’s most recent run, Ghost-Spider, from writer Seanan Mcguire, penciler Rosi Kampe, colorist Ian Herring, and letterer Clayton Cowles, hit comic stores this past October. Despite her taking over Marvel’s pages and covers during the summer of 2015 the character is fairly new to the pages. But where did it all start?
Spider-Gwen’s first appearance was in Edge of Spider-Verse #2 as part of the Spider-Man event “Spider-Verse,” the inspiration for SONY Animation’s Into the Spider-Verse. The event was pioneered by famed Spidey writer Dan Slott. However, Spider-Gwen’s ended up being very different from what Slott first pitched. Initially, Slott planned for Gwen to look more like the Gwen Stacey of the Marvel 616, regular Marvel comic universe. Her design was to include a costume similar to Gwen’s upon her death including a take on her signature boots and trench coat. Slott’s design notes were never sent so thankfully, Jason Latour and Robbi Rodriguez were able to create Spider-Gwen as we see her now.
In Edge of the Spider-Verse #1, we are introduced to the Gwen Stacey of Earth 65 when she was bitten by the radioactive spider instead of Peter Parker. She takes up the mantle of Spider-Woman. Earth 65’s Gwen Stacey differs from the women Peter Parker lost in the regular 616. Gwen is the drummer of a punk rock band, The Mary Janes. However, this Gwen still has a relationship with Peter. She was close friends with Parker and Harry Osborn. After being bitten, Peter begins to have an infatuation with Spider-Woman, not knowing she is secretly his best friend Gwen Stacy. Peter creates a formula that turns him into a lizard mutant and after being bullied, he injects himself with the formula.
Gwen Stacy is then forced as Spider-Woman to fights Peter. After defeating him she accidentally pushes him too hard and kills him. Peter dies in Gwen’s arms, telling her he just wanted to “be special” like her. Gwen realizes what she has done and fled the scene. The public is now under the misconception that Spider-Woman murdered Peter Parker and is a menace to society. Following Edge of the Spider-Verse, this storyline follows Gwen into her solo series.
Edge of the Spider-Verse #2 sold out and was sent back for multiple printings. Additionally, Spider-Gwen #1, the start of Spider-Gwen’s solo run following the Spider-Verse event, ended up being the third-best selling comic of February 2015, selling over 300,000 copies. Considering most comics barely hit 100,000 copies, this was huge. Spider-Gwen was never supposed to be more than a one-off character but because of the immensely positive reaction from fans, she is now a staple in the Marvel universe.
Powers and Gear
Spider-Gwen’s powers are very similar to that of Peter Parker’s Spider-Man. Gwen can stick to and climb on walls and also shares Peter’s “spidey-sense.” Unlike Peter, Spider-Gwen is not a tech genius and instead got her web-shooters from retired crime fighter and billionaire mogul Janet van Dyne. Additionally, Spider-Gwen acquired a wristwatch that allows her to travel to the multiverse following Spider-Verse. She recently used the watch to have a romantic relationship with Miles Morales. Their flirtation is hinted within Into the Spider-Verse. While not a science genius like Peter, Gwen has a detective’s mind and has learned a lot from her father George Stacy.
Spider-Gwen’s suit is the most well-known attribute of the character. Her design was called “one of the greatest modern superhero designs” by the creative director of Marvel Games, Bill Rosemann. Unlike most Spidey suits, Gwen’s suit is white with black, magenta, and blue accents. It also features a hood and sneakers that closer resembles chucks, though in Into the Spider-Verse her Chucks were replaced with ballet shoes.
Comics and Onward
If you are looking for a place to start with Spider-Gwen, start with Edge of the Spider-Verse and the Spider-Verse crossover. From there you can pick up Spider-Gwen’s solo series, Spider-Gwen which has 35 issues. She is also featured heavily in the short-lived and highly underrated Web Warriors. Additionally, Gwen teamed up with Silk, Cindy Moon, and Spider-Woman from 616, Jessica Drew in the excellent Spider-Women Alpha crossover. Currently, Gwen is going by the name Ghost-Spider in her new solo run following the end of Jason Latour and Robbi Rodriguez’s run.
In addition to Into the Spider-Verse, Gwen has been in seen in season 4 of Disney XD’s Ultimate Spider-Man. In the show, she is Spider-Woman and from the same dimension as Kid Arachnid, Miles Morales. However, unlike in the comics, this Gwen lacks superpowers and instead relies on gadgets for her spider abilities including digital sensors in her mask to simulate spider-sense and magnetic grips in her gloves and boots to help her wall crawl.
Most recently, Gwen, now being dubbed Ghost-Spider, is a team member in the animated movie Marvel Rising: Secret Warriors and the TV shorts following all for Disney XD. There Gwen more closely resembles her comic book origin. From that franchise, Marvel and Hasbro have unveiled its Marvel Rising toy line including a few Ghost Spider dolls. Marvel also announced on October 2, 2018, that two new Marvel Rising specials, Chasing Ghosts and Heart of Iron, are on the way. So far in all her cartoon appearances, Gwen has been voiced by Dove Cameron.
Outside of a few mobile games, Gwen hasn’t played a major role within a major video game. She is an unlockable playable character in Spider-Man Unlimited, where there she is voiced by Laura Bailey, Marvel: Contest of Champions, Marvel: Avengers Alliance, Marvel Heroes where she is voiced by Ashley Johnson, Marvel: Future Fight, Marvel Puzzle Quest, Marvel Avengers Academy where she is voiced by Catherine Luciani, and Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2. Hopefully, with Miles Morales being featured in the latest Marvel’s Spider-Man for PlayStation, it means we could see her in a sequel. Until then, catch Spider-Gwen in just about everywhere else.
Gwen is a fully realized character who has moved past the sad trope of dying for the sake of her boyfriend’s story. She has one of the fiercest costumes in comic books and has become a favorite of a lot of fans, including myself.