Spider-Gwen V1: Greater Power (Jason Latour)

Spider-Gwen V1: Greater Power (Jason Latour)Spider-Gwen, Vol. 1: Greater Power by Jason Latour, Robbi Rodriguez, Tom Taylor, Chris Visions, Rico Renzi, Marcio Takara, Various
Published by Marvel on May 24th 2016
Genres: Comics and Graphic Novels
Pages: 151
Format: ebook
Source: Prime Reading
Amazon
Goodreads

GWEN STACY IS BACK IN THE WEBS AND HAS AN ALL-NEW, ALL-DIFFERENT MYSTERY TO SOLVE!

THE SPIDER-WOMAN of Earth-65 was convinced that the Lizard's threat died in her arms along with Peter Parker. But a new reptilian rampage leaves her with doubts not only about Peter's life, but also his death. While her father, Captain George Stacy, struggles with Gwen's double life, troubles mount as the Osborns make their debut — and Gwen finds herself on S.H.I.E.L.D.'s most-wanted list! Perhaps Jessica Drew, the Spider-Woman of Earth-616, can offer some wise lessons about power and responsibility that might come in handy when Gwen battles the Goblins! Plus: Discover who wields the shield as Earth-65's Captain America joins the fray — but will she be on Gwen's side?

COLLECTING: SPIDER-GWEN (2015B) #1-6.

Plot: ★★
Characters: ★★
Readability: ★★★★

I’ve recently discovered the Kindle Prime Reading feature, and have been pleasantly surprised to find it has quite a lot of options for comics and graphic novels. I’ve no shortage of books I want to read on my shelves, but I never buy comics or graphic novels, although I am curious about them.  When I was working as a bookseller Spider-Gwen was always a reasonably popular title so when I saw this was on Prime Reading I decided to give it a go.

In this parallel universe storyline Gwen Stacey was bitten by a radioactive spider and became Spider-Gwen, while Peter Parker is dead.

So the first and probably most important thing to realise is that although this is volume 1, it isn’t actually the best starting place for Spider-Gwen.  Turns out there’s a Volume 0 (Most Wanted), which I didn’t realise.  As a result, I found the storyline a little disjointed and complicated at times, which I’m sure could have been avoided if I’d actually started in the right place!  I didn’t find it too bad though; when something came along I didn’t know about I basically just accepted it and moved on – I didn’t have to go googling backstory or anything to keep up.

Probably my favourite thing about Spider-Gwen v1 is the artwork; more than anything I loved the vibrant colours and Gwen’s costume which is so different.  What let the book down, for me, was the character depth; Gwen has plenty of guilt (from events in v0!) but not a huge amount else going for her. She tries to be funny but while some of it was amusing some of it fell really flat, and aside from her interactions with her Dad her connections with other characters were a bit underwhelming. Ultimately, at this stage, I want Gwen to succeed more so that her dad doesn’t get hurt than because I actually care about Gwen herself.  I wanted to see more of her as a person – we get almost nothing in terms of her as a friend, as a person with any kind of hobbies or life outside of being a superhero.  Obviously I realise this is a comic about superheroes, but no one cares about a hero they don’t like or who seems completely two-dimensional.

I’m intrigued by the concept, and if Volume 2 appeared on Prime Reading or at the library I’d give it a go, but I won’t be rushing out to buy it.  In the meantime, I may well go back and read volume 0 and see if that gives me more reasons to emotionally connect with Gwen!

Buy it? This is one that I’d probably borrow personally.
In a nutshell: It was interesting, the artwork is beautiful, and it almost certainly makes more sense if you start with volume 0!

Review: Am I Normal Yet?

Review: Am I Normal Yet?Am I Normal Yet? (The Spinster Club, #1) by Holly Bourne
Published by Usborne Publishing Ltd on August 1st 2015
Genres: Love & Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 434
Format: ebook
Source: Library
Goodreads

All Evie wants is to be normal. She’s almost off her meds and at a new college where no one knows her as the girl-who-went-crazy. She’s even going to parties and making friends. There’s only one thing left to tick off her list…
But relationships are messy – especially relationships with teenage guys. They can make any girl feel like they’re going mad. And if Evie can’t even tell her new friends Amber and Lottie the truth about herself, how will she cope when she falls in love?

I don’t really remember when I first spotted Am I normal yet? but the series has been on my radar for a long time now.  I have to admit, the cover for the second book in the series, How Hard Can love be? definitely put me off a bit.  I don’t read a lot of contemporary – although actually, every time I say this I realise I read more than I thought I did (nearly 10% of my read so far this year!).  It’s definitely not a favourite genre though, and I’m pretty picky about what I pick up, and How Hard Can love be? made me think of a very light, very romance-heavy teen drama, which isn’t really my favourite thing, so I kept putting it off.  I then ended up with a proof of What’s a Girl Gotta Do which I couldn’t resist starting and ending up loving (review to come!).  Having been suitably impressed, this year I’m finally getting around to going back and reading the earlier books in the series.

This book left me with a lot of feelings.  Evie’s story hooked me pretty much straight away, and I finished Am I Normal Yet? the same day I picked it up, which is a pretty good indicator of how much I enjoyed it.  I found Evie immensely likable, and believable.  Although I couldn’t really see what she liked about Guy, I did find her feelings believable, and I liked how it wasn’t the standard ‘girl falls in love with first boy she dates and then they all lived happily ever after’.  It was very refreshing to see a story – particularly a teen story – with more interesting and complicated relationships than either a) just one love interest where everything works out perfectly, or b) a brief paragraph at the beginning that vaguely mentions having a past relationship before the ‘real’ love interest is introduced and then everything works out perfectly.  I liked the messy, realistic, chaotic teen relationships in this a lot more!  I also loved the way Evie’s OCD was portrayed and talked about – the recovery diary entries, the counselling sessions, the medication dosages, the Bad Thoughts (and Worse Thoughts), all really helped you to understand what Evie was thinking and feeling and how she was dealing – or in some cases not dealing – with things.  I felt like Holly Bourne really nailed getting you into Evie’s head, because for me at least this was the kind of book that literally took you on an emotional rollercoaster, from giggles to tears and back with a whole lot of other emotions on the way.  I did feel a little emotionally wrung-out afterwards!

While I loved Evie, the mental-health representation and the relationships, the book definitely wasn’t perfect.  While I liked Amber and Lottie too, their incessant bitching about Jane did begin to grate after a while.  I also occasionally felt like their feminism was a bit too forced, with Lottie just giving these big info-dumps, and with an ongoing underlying message of ‘you can’t be a feminist and still like boys’, which I didn’t enjoy.   There were also a couple of comments that just didn’t quite sit right from where I’m sitting like “periods are what make us girls“.  Not particularly inclusive…

Having said all that, while there were things I didn’t like, I ultimately did really enjoy the book, and it is one I’d happily read again, so it just about squeaks through to the four stars.  Anna’s review where she says “Bourne told us about feminism, but she showed us about mental illness” is absolutely spot on I think.  Ultimately it was Evie, her OCD and the way we go through the emotional wringer with her that I loved about this book, and while the feminism side was okay, it wasn’t on the same level, and ultimately weakened the book a little.

One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star