An aspect of Gwen that I haven’t had time to bring up during this event is that she’s a musician, specifically a drummer. Most of the adaptions save for Marvel Rising and even the Disney Junior cartoon which has finally brought focus to this aspect has left it ignored. Yes, we did see it briefly in Spider-Verse but that was only for a moment.
In one aspect I do get it as the superheroics are more important when focusing on Spider-Gwen/Ghost-Spider in adaptions but at the same time, her being a drummer and part of a band is such an integral part of her character. The Mary Janes, the band that she’s a part of makes up her social circle, and also drumming serves as another outlet for Gwen. Although Marvel Rising seems to have given the band a different name as The Emm Jays Mary Janes is what I knew them as first.
Furthermore, something that Marvel Rising finally adapts is the tense relationship between MJ and Gwen because of Gwen running late for practice because of her superheroing.
And in many ways, that is what this special/film focuses on. I’ll discuss that when I get into the plot. This is again a rather simple plot but it works for the story that wants to be told.
If I could sum up the theme of this special in one word, it’d be balance. That’s something that Gwen struggles with as she is trying to be the perfect superhero and also being the perfect drummer for her band. This is all while dealing with a new villain that has been causing sonic attacks throughout the city. As I mentioned when I said I’d be looking at this special, it is thankfully more lighthearted compared to the last two entries that focused on Gwen in this franchise but she still has to learn that idea of balance and this is felt during a final attack with Screaming Mimi, the main villain in front of the titular Battle of the Bands that Gwen’s band is partaking in. Yeah, once again there is a nice action sequence where the team comes together to save the city but that’s not what I’m interested in. I’m more interested in how Gwen grows and we see that as both her bandmates and teammates accept her at the end and tell her that she doesn’t have to be perfect. It’s such a nice moment considering where she started in this series and getting to see her rock out with her band to end this special is a nice way to cap things.
Gwen Stacy voiced by Dove Cameron
In many ways, this special is less interested in telling a Ghost-Spider story and is more interested in telling a Gwen Stacy story. I highlight this as both Initiation and Chasing Ghosts were Ghost-Spider stories that dealt with Gwen trying to clear her name as a superhero while also finding the person that killed her best friend whereas Battle of the Bands put Gwen front and center as she learns the idea of balance and that she doesn’t have to be the perfect drummer or superhero as long as she puts her all into everything she does.
It’s a stark contrast compared to where she started in this series with seemingly the whole world against her. Now, she did have some support like with her friend Glory but she gets even more support now.
To put it another way, Gwen has finally learned that she is not an island and that it’s okay to let people in. Though considering everything she’d been put through including being wrongly accused of killing her best friend, it makes sense why she would feel the need to be perfect at everything she does. In many ways, it feels similar to what Isabella learns in Encanto that trying to be perfect all the time is draining and eventually you are going to mess up. Messing up is just a part of life.
Screaming Mimi voiced by Tara Strong
Screaming Mimi in many ways reminds me of Adagio Dazzle from Rainbow Rocks and yeah, I’ll admit part of that comes from them both being music-based villains but also because they both assume they are the smartest/most important person in the room. What’s interesting here is whereas Sheath was steeped in Gwen’s past, Mimi is more a reflection of what Gwen isn’t. She is a perfectionist and expects things to be done her way and if they aren’t, she gets mad and blames others whereas Gwen blames herself for not being perfect. To Gwen being perfect is a heavy load she must carry whereas Mimi expects everyone else around her to be perfect and she doesn’t carry any of that weight.
My Final Thoughts
This is perhaps my favorite of the three Marvel Rising things I’ve looked at starring Gwen, it does a good job of tapping into who she is as a person and why she feels the need to be perfect, and trying to find the balance she needs in her life.
I know this was something different for the blog to do this year as I haven’t talked much about any of the Marvel stuff that Disney has put out but Spider-Gwen/Ghost-Spider is my favorite superhero and every year for my birthday which was on the third, I try to do a themed event. I thought at first of looking at the first episode of every Disney Spider-Man cartoon, I may come back to that in the future when Freshman Year releases.
But then I recalled that Gwen/Ghost-Spider has appeared in a lot of animated Spidey media since her debut and I thought it might be fun to look at some of the stuff she’s appeared in as a way to celebrate my favorite superhero. This was fun and something different as while I knew of most of the cartoons I covered, I’d only see all of Marvel Rising before this. So, that was also a fun journey for me and I hope that you guys enjoyed this as well. I know it may not have been perfect as I am not an avid comic book reader but I have quite a few of Gwen’s books and that’s why I felt the need to bring up the adaption changes. Spider-Gwen is the first superhero I actively followed in comics, these are all my Spider-Gwen/Ghost-Spider books plus my minifigure of her.
This isn’t me trying to prove that I’m a real fan (Whatever that means) but rather to show how much I love this character. Yes, I first discovered her in Spider-Verse and thought Woah, she’s cool but my journey to coming to love this character and her becoming my favorite superhero started at my library as they had a couple of her trades and I would check out as many as I could and when they didn’t have the books I was looking for, I bought the first Spider-Gwen omnibuses and later picked up a couple of Ghost-Spider trades. Yeah, there are more Spider-Gwen/Ghost-Spider books I still need to read. I have a whole list of books that I need on my IPad but with everything I’ve read, it became clearer and clearer that she was my favorite superhero. I imagine a lot of us have had a journey like that in discovering a favorite character. We just see something about them that clicks with us and makes us go yeah, I want to know more about you and for me, it was Spider-Gwen.
Again, I’d like to thank everyone that read these blogs as they were a lot of fun to write and it felt nice to get to spout love about not only my favorite Marvel character but my favorite superhero ever.