Marvel Rising: Initiation Is So Much Better


Initiation Benefits So Much From Its Short Runtime

Marvel Rising: Initiation is one of the short, like micro short, series that are set in the same universe as the Secret Warriors movie. Kamala and Squirrel Girl are there. Patriot is there.

But the reason it interested me was the addition of a new character: Ghost-Spider. Or, as most people know her, Spider-Gwen. After the incredible Across The Spider-Verse movie, it’s difficult not to be curious about how other media includes her in stories.

And, well, if there was any major reason to go and find Initiation, it would be that this is a great adaptation of her. The voice acting is nuanced, Gwen’s storyline is interesting, and the quippy snark is exactly what you’d want from a Spider-Person.

Ghost-Spider Gets Some Strong Character Writing

Unfortunately, there are also a lot of other comedy moments that don’t hold up as well. Kamala and Squirrel Girl were a lot of fun in the movie, but here, the goofy antics are as often annoying as they’re effective. The core plot of Initiation is avenging a murder and has a slight subplot about Ghost-Spider refusing to really grieve the associated loss, even putting up a peppy rocker girl façade. Having Spider-Gwen be unable to escape because squirrels keep biting her webbing in the same series is tonal whiplash of the highest order.

The other thing of note is that Initiation, despite being under an hour in total, ends on a cliffhanger of sorts. Just like the movie, the comic-book origins are obvious here. It feels like the issue ran out of pages, and you need to go find the next one at a shop to get the rest of the story.

And that would be annoying if this wasn’t also better than the movie. And if I wasn’t interested in seeing the other shorts. But I am. I’m genuinely invested in Spider-Gwen’s quest. The mostly botched emotional complexity of the movie is saved in the series. The writing is willing to really acknowledge this new situation. I’m not saying it’s edgy or gory. It’s not. It’s just Initiation is working well with the tools it has—and that makes it watchable.

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