For many folks, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse was the first they ever saw of Ghost Spider, aka Spider-Gwen, aka Spider-Woman, aka Gwen Stacy of Earth-65. And the first thing you’re likely to notice about Spider-Gwen is her immediately memorable costume.
Gwen’s black, white, purple, and neon-blue duds are striking. The hooded, masked outfit is fully distinct from — and yet still reminiscent of — Spider-Man’s iconic look. But how did that look come to be?
One of Spider-Gwen’s creators, writer/artist Jason Latour, recently posted a Twitter thread answering exactly that question. Latour created Spider-Woman (as she’s known in her own universe) for Marvel’s 2014 Spider-Verse crossover and 2015 Spider-Gwen series, which had art from artist Robbi Rodriguez and colorist Rico Renzi. All three creators had a hand in designing her costume.
In his thread, Latour explains that there were three considerations that drove Gwen’s costume design. First, it had to represent their specific multiversal version of a known character; second, it had to fit with the story they were trying to tell with her. In her secret identity, Gwen was often in the background, but as a superhero, she’d be bright and distinct. And just like Miles Morales, Latour said it was important to the creative team that anyone could imagine themselves under her mask.
2. Story: Gwen is branded a criminal. So a full mask. That way, any reader could see themselves under it , & any character on the street has no idea who or what is under the hood. Mystery, in the way Spider-man was in the 1st Ditko issues. (5)— Jason Latour (@jasonlatour) January 10, 2019
Finally, the costume had to be something that Robbi Rodriguez could draw over and over again and still find joy in it. And that’s tricky when your Spider-Book artist hates drawing webs.
To make up for a lack of Spider-Man’s iconic web pattern, they determined that the costume would be made of stark contrasts, electric pops of purple and neon blue on an expanse of flat black and white. And in the negative space of that black and white is Gwen’s spider emblem.
That Spider-motif-- which a lot of people fail to notice: looks like a white spider tear dropped on a black suit. Spray paint eyes to imply a do it yourself element Chucks Taylors to imply some self repair or CHARACTER preference. (13) pic.twitter.com/Cr7hXC6DHV— Jason Latour (@jasonlatour) January 10, 2019
But that still didn’t quite fly with Spider-books editor Nick Lowe.
So with our design 95 percent we done turned it in feeling really good. Editor @nick_lowe_ loved it but had one problem: NO WEBS!? -- (which was a really good note)-- Hey, no sweat. Robbi pulled an early take back out & fixed that in 2 mins adding them arms or in the hoodie (16)— Jason Latour (@jasonlatour) January 10, 2019
Comics have always been a mix of good writing and good art, and Gwen would not have been so popular if her character design had not been so striking. It popped out of covers on comic shop shelves and immediately inspired cosplay.
Take a look at Latour’s entire thread for a little masterclass on the passionate marriage between graphic design and costuming — a marriage that lies at the heart of every truly iconic superhero outfit.