Written by Jason Latour
Art by Robbi Rodriguez and Rico Renzi
Lettering by Clayton Cowles
Published by Marvel Comics
Review by Kat Calamia
‘Rama Rating: 6 out of 10
Spider-Gwen #18 is a disappointing conclusion to the much-hyped romantic story arc between Gwen Stacy and Miles Morales. With little added to the scant fireworks from the first issue of the arc, this crossover sadly feels like a cash-grab because of the forced romantic plot between the two popular Spider-heroes, rather than playing up the organic and engaging friendship between these two popular characters.
The beginning of this arc teased a kiss between Miles and Gwen, but don't expect much more out of that here. Instead, Spider-Gwen #18 jumps a dozen steps ahead of that kiss, showing a potential future timeline with Gwen and Miles as a married couple. They have two kids (George Jefferson and Charlotte), who’ve inherited their parents’ Spider-powers. It's entertaining to watch George Jefferson and Charlotte interact with younger versions of their parents, giving this arc a much-needed shot in the arm. As Gwen and Miles’ glimpse of this potential future leads the heroes to question their destiny, you can't help but be struck by this peaceful earth in the multiverse, where Miles and Gwen’s potential children don’t have to deal with the demons Miles and Gwen are dealing with right now in their respective series.
While the addition of the Spider-kids was a fun beat, it ultimately didn't justify this lengthy crossover between the two books. The story arc delivers only one kiss - feeling like a bait-and-switch given that this story arc was six issues long. The time spent teasing a romance that never happened takes away from the momentum forming in the current Spider-Gwen story arc between Gwen and Matt Murdock. Additionally, the crossover's heavy focus on Miles’ relationship with his father feels like a lost opportunity by not including Gwen’s father in the crossover’s narrative.
The pencils by Robbi Rodriguez and the colors by Rico Renzi are a staple for the Spider-Gwen series. In this issue, Rodriguez gets to draw the children of Miles Morales and Gwen Stacy in and out of their costumes, giving each member of the future Spider-team their own unique superhero look. Meanwhile, Renzi brings a diverse palette to the issue. He uses bright colors for the future world, while in the present day uses moody and dark colors - establishing the contrast between the tone of these very different worlds. This showcases the attention of detail the Spider-Gwen team put into forming a new spider world for this story arc.
Spider-Gwen #18 gives an interesting glimpse into a potential romantic future between Miles Morales and Gwen Stacy, but this alternate reality wasn’t enough to satisfy the drawn-out Spider-Man and Spider-Gwen crossover. The kiss between Gwen and Miles winds up being little more than that, and because of this, the arc felt more like a bait and switch than an authentic team-up between two popular Spider-heroes.
Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #17
Written by Robert Venditti
Art by Ethan Van Sciver and Jason Wright
Lettering by Dave Sharpe
Published by DC Comics
Review by Justin Partridge
‘Rama Rating: 9 out of 10
The most underrated corpsman gets a stirring spotlight issue in Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #17. Robert Venditti, continuing his streak of large-scale science fiction and focused character work, brings Kyle Rayner back fully into the fold, taking him from White Lantern to restoring him to the position of “Torchbearer” of the Green Lantern Corps once again. Though I’m not exactly thrilled that the developments of the now seminal Omega Men have been reversed, Venditti does a great job of reminding readers exactly why Kyle wore the ring all those years ago and how he fits into the new paradigm of the Corps.
Penciler Ethan Van Sciver also hops deftly between the sci-fi visuals and character moments, giving us sweeping views of the now operating Mogo, dynamic panel layouts, and theatrically engaging character work. Van Sciver’s proven hand at drawing Lanterns is given a nice layer of tonality and contrast by the colors of Jason Wright. From the sterile lighting of Guy’s medbay to the ominously emerald Sciencells, Wright shows a keen eye for the intention of the scene and colors them accordingly, pulling together Venditti and Van Sciver’s tightrope acts into a cohesive and compelling experience. Kyle Rayner may not be everyone’s favorite Lantern, but after Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #17, you’ll see that “Rebirth” is a lot brighter now that he’s back.
Though Kyle is really this issue’s main focus, Robert Venditti makes a real effort to remind readers of the rest of his simmering plots. Along with Kyle’s return, Venditti checks in on the fallout of last issue’s brutal fight between Guy Gardner and Arkillo. This leads to a rare showing of emotion from Guy, keeping in line with Venditti’s penchant of showing heart beneath even the roughest of exteriors. But, like Guy would say, #17 isn’t all touchy-feely. Venditti also introduces a dark turn in the career of Tomar-Ru, who crosses a huge line here that is sure to come back to haunt the Corps in later issues. Venditti may have a clear intention for #17's story, but its nice to see him putting the work in when it comes to his large cast.
Since we’ve gotten this far, I feel as if I should be honest with you all; I freaking love Kyle Rayner. So while the previous issues team-ups with Hal, Kyle, and Saint Walker have been a ball, seeing Kyle being welcomed back into the larger fold of his book was a planet sized ball. But, to address the elephant in the room, it isn’t ideal that Omega Men, one of DC’s most compelling single works in recent memory, is now rendered somewhat inert, but Venditti works for Kyle, building to this moment as Hal lays himself out for Kyle, telling him that, in his mind, Kyle is the greatest Green Lantern due to his big heart and even bigger imagination.
Venditti doubles down on this trust Hal has in Kyle by teaming him up again with Walker in order to direct the White light toward resurrecting the Blue Lanterns. It doesn’t pan out quite like it should, however. Instead of bringing back the Blues, they are blocked by some external force, and the feedback echos throughout the universe in a flashy sequence from Van Sciver and Wright. But while their plan didn’t work entirely, the series is now boasts one more Green Lantern, and in a great position for the new craziness Robert Venditti has in store for the Corps.
As true as the north star, Ethan Van Sciver is still drawing the hell out of Lanterns, but in this title his work is given a new dimension thanks to the colors of Jason Wright. Van Sciver’s pedigree with ringslingers is probably a scientific truth at this point and #17 is no exception. But its Jason Wright that makes it well and truly pop thanks to his uncanny ability to “read the room” when it comes to the staging. Throughout this issue, Wright’s malleable color choices accentuate the emotions at play, like the moody and tense holding cells of Mogo that are cast in heavy green shadows or in the backlit overcast sky as Kyle and Walker attempt their resurrection. Van Sciver is the understandable marquee name on this title, but don’t sleep on colorist Jason Wright; I’m not sure this title would be what it is without him.
A big return marks big things for Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps and suddenly the dream of the 90's is alive in the DCU. Robert Venditti, Ethan Van Sciver, and Jason Wright have taken their slice of the universe and steadily expanded it while never forgetting what makes these characters heroes to start with. And now, the “Torchbearer” has returned, and maybe now, hope won’t be far behind.