Spider-Gwen AKA: Gwen Stacy E65 AKA: Ghost Spider
Today’s is a great example of why I originally started writing about character appearance. With “Ghost Spider” AKA Spider-Gwen AKA Gwen Stacy of Earth 65 about to make a small screen animated appearance, I figured it was time. The first appearance of Gwen Stacy, as everyone probably knows is Amazing Spider-Man Volume 1 #31. However I’m focusing only on Spider-Gwen. Mostly because that’s who’s showing up in the cartoon. Recently I was reminded of a book that desperately needed to be debunked once and for all… but we’ll get to that at the end.
The first appearance of Spider-Gwen is Edge of Spiderverse #2. No matter what anyone tries to tell you. There’s a Greg Land 1:25 variant that has really climbed in value over the years. The regular cover was reprinted several times with color variations. The 3rd printing is the only different cover of the original batch of later printing. It’s what’s commonly referred to as a design variant.
What about the Comic Bug Variant?
This is a really strange book (not pictured). Yes it’s a reprint of EoSV #2 which came out nearly a year after the fact. What also makes it interesting is it’s a store variant reprint. Which, oddly enough is something Marvel typically doesn’t allow retailers to do. They prefer to do $1 True Believers reprints instead of allowing stores to do a reprint exclusive. So it’s a real head scratcher how the folks at Comic Bug were able to pull this off.
Think about it, is there another reprint of a popular first appearance as a store exclusive? Why was Comic Bug allowed to do what has to be a 6th printing? Why is there not an Incredible Hulk 181, a New Mutants #98 or NYX #3 store exclusives? See what I mean, very odd.
What about the Spider-Gwen series?
Ok, I guess we should jump down this rabbit hole. Just a quick note, I'm not even going to try to include all the assorted covers for either Spider-Gwen vol 1 or Vol 2… I will undoubtedly miss something.
Spider-Gwen #0 is a reprint of Edge of Spiderverse #2. So just be aware, if you have EoSV2 then you probably don’t need this unless you’re a Gwen completest. This has a few different covers and I believe even a store variant.
There’s also a bit of confusion to Spider-Gwen #1’s. There are 2 volumes for Spider-Gwen. Volume 1 which ran for 5 issues and has a ton of variant covers. It actually has some sort of variant for every single issue. Some are ratio variants and some are store variants. Clearly the Adam Hughes 1:100 variant is the big dollar book for this issue.
Spider-Gwen Vol 2 has a bunch of variants also. But the overall print run on this #1’s is far less than Vol 1 #1. It was part of Marvel post “Secret War on Everyone's Wallet” reboot of everything. However it’s the volume that is currently still running today. The first 9 issues have some type of variant cover for every issue. For those looking for things to chase, Spider-Gwen vol 2 #1-9 can keep you busy.
What About the 4CG Variant?
I know people have mentioned the Four Color Grail variant for Vol 1 before. It has a Dale Keown cover, but I’m going to level with you. I have no reason to believe this variant is any rarer that other store exclusives for this volume. FCG was touted as being “like Loot Crate or Comic Box but offering lower print run comic exclusives”. Lower is a relative term when you consider Loot Crate comics have a print run of 200K or higher. Many of the Spider-Gwen store exclusives for Vol 1 had between 3-5K copies printed. There is no reason to assume the Four Color Grail variant would be any less… Just something to consider.
What About the Tidewater Error Recall Variant?
Well, funny thing about this book. I bought one and never received a recall notice on it. The white outline is a definite improvement for sure. I have no idea at time of writing this what the print run was. Or how many were actually recalled… or if any were destroyed. I’m planning a trip to the Tidewater show this year. So if I get the opportunity I’ll see what I can find out and update this article later this summer.
Another notably early appearances, Amazing Spider-Man vol3 #9. It's the first appearance of Spider-Gwen in Earth 616 continuity. There's like 9 covers for this issue, the regular cover, ratio variant, ordering incentives and a store exclusive with a color and black and white variation. So go nuts.
There's books like Web Warriors, Secret Wars Spider-Verse, Spider-man Team Up's and other assorted Spider-Gwen appearances. I'd be here all day trying to sort those out. Some have ratio variants to chase down if that's your jam. Just a side note, Spider-man Team Up's #2 came out after ASM #9.
Wait, what about the Hawkeye vs Deadpool #0?
This is what I was talking about at the start. A few panels of a Halloween costume does not a first appearance make… as you can see from the image provided. This book is what I typically refer to among friends as a “Swindle Appearance”. That’s right, add Swindle Appearance to your comic book vocabulary.
This is a textbook example of why you must read comics and research what you are buying. Issue zero happens on Halloween. So putting two characters in the crowd, prior to their books being released is clearly an in joke with no relevance to the actual characters or continuity. People on eBay also list this as the first Jane Foster Thor, which folks should know by now is What If?! Vol 1 #10.
As I’ve said numerous times in the nearly two years I’ve been writing this column. Simple vague classification will not cut it anymore. We need more transparency with the appearance classification terminology, specifically because of books like this. If I was in a better mood, I might classify this as a first appearance of the Spider-Gwen costume design… maybe. But seeing as it's a bust shot and not a full costume, I can't even give it that.
On a side note, the whole Hawkeye vs Deadpool mini series is actually a really fun read despite the treachery with issue 0. So it's worth checking out.
That’s all for this week, see you next time!