After a false start, the recent Spider-Woman series found its footing with its second arc. New Duds is now available in a collected edition.
New Duds finds Spider-Woman Jessica Drew ditching the Avengers to get back to her origins as a solo adventurer fighting crime in the streets. She even adopts a practical new costume and moves into a loft in a developing neighborhood. Except Jessica is rusty at dealing with street level issues and manages to embarrass herself several times. Reporter Ben Urich intrigues her with the unexplained disappearances of the families of various super-villains. C-List crook Porcupine (not really a bad guy) crosses paths with Jessica and gets her involved in looking for the missing families. What Jessica finds is quite different from what she expects. Afterward, Jessica, Ben and Porcupine go on a cross-country road trip to deal with other unexplained cases Ben’s uncovered. The trio lands in a Midwestern town with an evil roadside attraction and some zombie-like locals.
Freed from the poorly received Spider-Verse tie-in that weighed down the first arc of Spider-Woman, writer Dennis Hopeless hits his stride with New Duds. He nails Jessica’s voice pretty quickly and her uneven attempt to be a “normal” crime fighter is a great concept that Hopeless plays with in some fun and involving ways. Hopeless gets some mileage out of Jessica figuring out how to do things without the apparatus of The Avengers and S.H.I.E.L.D. as backstops. Jessica is a winning heroine, who manages to be resourceful and short-sighted in equal doses. The resolution of the “missing families” plot has some clever twists and makes for a nice showcase for Jessica’s character. Urich and Porcupine make for a solid supporting duo that gives Jessica interesting personalities to bounce off. The road trip is a cool idea that Hopeless turns into something offbeat and engaging. It’s one of the more enjoyable superhero makeovers in recent memory.
Penciler Javier Rodriguez, inker Alvaro Lopez and colorist Vero Gandini are a strong team on art, giving Spider-Woman a light-hearted feel that’s a nice cross between traditional superhero and a more comic strip aesthetic. Jessica’s new outfit is great and the artists find subtle ways to show off its various features. The issues include a lot of dynamic sequences and layouts that can be creative without being self-consciously “clever.” Jessica moves nimbly and the artists do a nice job showing her athleticism and “spider moves.” The color palette is ideally suited to the shifting narrative, going from muted blues, blacks and grays of Jessica’s night-time adventures to brighter colors when she jumps into daytime action. Natacha Bustos provides a seamless pinch hit for Rodriguez and Lopez on one issue. It’s warm, entertaining work that gets across the intent of Hopeless’s writing quite effectively.
For fans of Spider-Woman, picking up New Duds is a no-brainer. But even if you’re not already a Jessica Drew fan, it’s worth seeking out.
Originally published at thunderalleybcpcom.ipage.com on January 29, 2016.