Like All New Hawkeye 1, I didn’t read the previous material before jumping into Spider-Woman 5. Spider-Woman 1-4 tied into Spider-Verse, which in itself isn’t a bad thing. I’ve enjoyed at least some of writer Dennis Hopeless’s work, including his Cable and X-Force run. The reason I didn’t pick up the first 4 issues was because Greg Land drew them, and I dislike his art more and more lately. Hopeless’s writing isn’t good enough to offset that for me.
That said, this kind of feels like a first issue. It’s clearly starting a new direction for Jessica Drew, as a street level hero who recently quit the Avengers in hopes to find a more normal life. Considering she’s been replaced by a skrull in Secret Invasion, helped the other Spider Avatars with an important role in the Spider-Verse event and fought in Jonathan Hickman’s Infinity, she could use a break. This issue works as a character study, showing how difficult it can be to re-adjust. The comic brilliantly mixes drama and fun in exploring the mistakes she’s made since downsizing her superhero work. The building story of the missing people could lead to some great twists down the road. There’s a lot to like about the writing, but it does feel a bit too chatty at times.
Javier Rodriguez’s art is brilliant. The opening pages make great use of nighttime lighting, raindrops wetting Jessica’s hair and water dripping off of a metal suit of armour. When she throws the suit, water splashes realistically. Later on, the shadows from the blinds create brilliant light effects while Jessica “renovates” her former private investigator office. The visual storytelling is on full display, whether it’s the broken coffee pot in Jessica’s office, the broken stiletto heel during the opening fight scene or the busy streets with varied pedestrians. Jessica’s facial expressions perfectly display her optimistic attitude before each fight and her growing frustration when things don’t go well. Every panel in this comic has something visual to offer.
Spider-Woman 5 feels like it could be called Spider-Woman 1, and it makes for a great starting point for anyone interested in reading about her. The heavy dialogue drags the comic down at times, but otherwise the writing is great and the art is brilliant. This is an easy recommendation.