The first issue of Heroes Reborn: Night-Gwen reimagines iconic Spider-Man character Gwen Stacy into a vigilante closer resembling DC’s Batwoman.
WARNING: The following contains spoilers for “Hunters & Prey” by Vita Ayala, Farid Karami, Erick Arciniega and VC’s by Cory Petit in Heroes Reborn: Night-Gwen #1, available now.
Gwen Stacy has gone through plenty of mind-boggling changes over the years. While she cemented her position as Spider-Gwen in recent years. her recent transformation into Night-Gwen twists the familiar Spider-Man ally into a strange reflection of her usual self.Looking through the character’s history this latest development puts her at the crux of a complicated array of inversions, and she comes out on the other end as a new version of Batwoman.
Marvel’s latest event, Heroes Reborn, creates a world completely redesigned by the absence of the Avengers. The vast changes across this world include inverted and completely altered versions of many characters. The central idea of Heroes Reborn is that in Mephisto-influence alternate reality where the Avengers never came to assemble, the Squadron Supreme arose to fill their spot in the world. The Squadron Supreme are Marvel’s version of DC’s Justice League, and this timeline blends aspects of Marvel and the DC Universe.
Gwen Stacy was originally a member of Spider-Man’s supporting cast, and in 2015 an alternate reality version of the character became a female inversion of the male hero, Spider-Gwen. New characters known by a gender-inverted name are nothing new to comics, and DC’s Batman had his own inversion in 2006 with Batwoman. But the inversions themselves get blended up and inverted in Heroes Reborn, which sees the Batman pastiche Nighthawk in the Marvel Universe.
The result is that in the new alternate reality a hero arises known as Nightbird. With the Batman figure Nighthawk occupying Spider-Man’s place in the universe, Nightbird stands out as a figure which creates stark parallels to Batwoman. Both heroines operate independently of their male counterparts, fight crime without powers, ride motorcycles, and even dress similarly.
Moreover, this issue suggests a romantic relationship with detective Misty Knight, and the issue revolves around their inability to spend quality time with one another. They feed each other, hold hands, and ride off in the sunset together at the comic’s end. And though the comic never quite makes their relationship explicit, the undertones cement the clear parallels to Batwoman, who has a history of dating police officers, that only make Night-Gwen all the more interesting.
Part of the appeal of Heroes Reborn is the kaleidoscopic quality the story has, its countless inversions and parallels changing perspective every time it is examined from a new angle. While Spider-Gwen is Gwen’s take on a Spider-Man-esque figure, this version of Gwen reimagines her as one of Marvel’s dark knights.
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