The ‘Women of Marvel’ Guide to Ghost-Spider
In this all-new episode of the ‘Women of Marvel’ podcast, we go inside Gwen Stacy’s double life as Ghost-Spider!
It’s an all-new season from the Women of Marvel! Listen to the latest episode from the podcast series, then tune into new character spotlight episodes each Wednesday!
Ghost-Spider AKA Spider-Gwen! On Earth-65, Gwen Stacy lives a double life as the super hero Ghost-Spider. After receiving a bite from a radioactive arachnid, Gwen became a super-powered hero with the abilities and proportional strength of a spider! But just like Earth-616’s Peter Parker, Ghost-Spider must juggle her super hero identity with her day-to-day life: As a student, a daughter, and as the drummer of The Mary Janes, the band she helped form with fellow high school musicians.
In the fourth episode from the latest season of the Women of Marvel podcast, our hosts Ellie Pyle and Preeti Chhibber shine a spotlight on this hero of the Spider-Verse, talking to comic creators like Seanan McGuire and Jodi Nishijima, plus Maya Aoki Tuttle, singer, drummer, and voiceover artist on Marvel’s Spidey and His Amazing Friends.
Listen to Ghost-Spider’s full Women of Marvel spotlight, then catch our episode highlights below!
GWEN STACY’S SPIDER-POWERS
Seanan McGuire, writer of the GHOST-SPIDER (2019) series, described to Ellie and Preeti how, exactly, a Gwen Stacy from the Marvel Mulitverse gained spider-powers all her own:
“Over on Earth-65, which is like six steps down the turnpike and across a multidimensional bridge [from Earth-616], Gwen Stacy was bitten by a radioactive spider…kind of,” McGuire explained. “[Gwen’s] power situation is weird. She’s not technically a spider-hero. She’s technically a symbiote. So, she’s more Venom than Spider-Man. But she presents as a spider-hero. She’s super strong. She can generate webs, she has Spider-Sense, and she has the increased muscular strength and density necessary to be able to do those spider-acrobatics. So, she’s got the full suite of baseline physical powers that you have to have to be functional.”
McGuire also elaborated on Gwen’s transition from “Spider-Woman” to “Ghost-Spider.”
“Gwen Stacy became the Spider-Woman hero of her world and Peter Parker, who felt very overshadowed and like he was never going to amount to anything, started his descent into villainy and wound up becoming the Lizard, which resulted in Gwen accidentally killing him at their senior prom,” McGuire recapped. “Gwen was recruited into the Web Warriors who protected the Web of Life and Destiny. So, she was hopping from Multiversal location to Multiversal location for a while, which means she discovered that basically every woman-identifying spider-hero goes through a period where they call themselves ‘Spider-Woman.’ And in the final issue of Jason Latour’s initial [SPIDER-GWEN] run, she announced that she was ‘Spider-Gwen.’ She blew her own secret identity and went to prison. So, after that, when she got out of prison, she couldn’t conceal her secret identity, but she could make it a little less blatant when she was continuing to bop around the Multiverse and wound up changing her name to ‘Ghost-Spider.’ Because death loves Gwen Stacy.”
DEPICTING GHOST-SPIDER ON THE PAGE
Comic book artist Jodi Nishijima also joined Ellie and Preeti to talk about drawing a Multiverse of super-powered Gwen Stacys in SPIDER-GWEN: GWENVERSE (2022). But there are some core attributes to Gwen that Nishijima picked up on, regardless of which universe the hero hails from:
“Looking at Gwen and knowing what I know about her, she always came across, to me, on the edgier side of characterization,” Nishijima said. “I think as far as the girl next door type of character, she dips her toe into that somewhat. But for the most part, she kind of breaks that mold by virtue of not being as cutesy or sweet as, say, the average girl next door character type would be. You know, she’s in a rock band. She’s not just the singer or the guitarist. She’s the drummer. And that’s kind of a different sort of characterization than you would normally see from the ‘cute girl love interest’ type character.”
Nishijima also appreciates the individuality of Gwen Stacy, both on Earth-616 and in her super hero personas.
“One thing that has always stood out to me is the fact that she is, across any iteration that I’ve ever seen of her, very independent. I think that’s something that’s common amongst most Spider-People. But to me, Gwen Stacy stands out just by doing her own thing at her own pace and not letting anybody tell her what to do otherwise,” Nishijima reflected. “And I think that that’s something that I tried to capture across every book that I drew with her and all her different personalities that I was representing.”
DRUMMING UP LOVE FOR GHOST-SPIDER
“Ask an Expert” correspondent Isabel Robertson was joined by Maya Aoki Tuttle, the voice of Janet Van Dyne: Wasp on animated series Marvel’s Spidey and His Amazing Friends, plus a drummer, singer, and founding member of the band The Colourist.
“When I was a kid, probably around 11, my dad was watching a documentary or something,” Tuttle recalls of an inspirational moment. “And I saw an old video clip of the band The Carpenters from the 1970s, and Karen Carpenter in the band played drums, and that was the first time I had ever seen a woman playing drums. And I was just…mind blown and so excited and immediately [went] to my parents and said, ‘Please, please, I want a drum set.’ And that started the whole snowball. I love how the opening [of Marvel’s Spidey and His Amazing Friends] has Gwen drumming, because when I was a kid and I saw that clip of Karen Carpenter, it changed my world. And I know there’s kids and little girls out there that will see Gwen drumming in that opening and be like, ‘I want to do that too.’”
When asked if she would continue to drum if she, hypothetically, gained Gwen’s spider-powers, Tuttle came back with a definitive “yes.”
“One thing that's cool about drumming is you develop what drummers call limb independence,” Tuttle shared. “So that’s when each of your arms and legs do something different but coordinated at the same time. It's necessary to make advanced drumbeats, and it’s really good for your brain and coordination. So, I'm thinking, if you’re a super hero, you need to be tip top mentally and physically, so that limb independence, that drum practice, is probably really good to keep up your skills in your off time!”
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