The current Heroes Reborn event reimagines the Marvel Universe without some of its biggest heroes like Spider-Man and the Avengers - and a new one-shot imagines how those changes could ripple out and affect other characters like Gwen Stacy, aka Spider-Gwen.
In the June 9 one-shot Heroes Reborn: NIght-Gwen #1 by writer Vita Ayala and artist Farid Karami, readers will find Gwen Stacy trading in her spider-duds to become the protégé of the Batman-esque hero Nighthawk.
So yeah, goodbye Spider-Gwen, hello the Batgirl-ish Nightbird.
Following up on their previous Gwen Stacy one-shot Ghost-Spider Annual #1, Ayala returns here for a very different heroine that the writer says is not like Spider-Gwen at all.
"The world that Nightbird inhabits (figuratively and literally) is darker, and so in response, she endeavors to shine brighter," Ayala tells Newsarama. "She isn't really quippy, but she is very earnest."
Newsarama spoke with Ayala about this novel twist on Spider-Gwen, the inspiration behind the creation of Nightbird, and how this is connected to the larger Heroes Reborn event.
Newsarama: Vita, what made you want to work on Heroes Reborn, and Heroes Reborn: Night-Gwen in particular?
Vita Ayala: I was approached by the editor, Darren Shan, about working on Nightbird specifically. I've had the pleasure of working with Darren before and jumped at the chance to do it again!
Nrama: What made you want to bring in Nighthawk? What's his relationship with Gwen like?
Ayala: Nightbird spun out of the Nighthawk issue, in the same way that Xena spun out of Hercules. It made perfect sense to me to at least refer to him!
Nrama: It seems like you take a bit of inspiration from a few Bat characters for Night-Gwen, who in particular from the Bat-family inspired you to craft this character?
Ayala: Most of my inspiration actually came from Jason's Nighthawk script for the event! I tried to find the lane for Gwen by looking at her mentor and backwards-engineering what kind of character would balance out their partnership.
Heroes Reborn: NIght-Gwen #1 preview
Nrama: Does this story directly tie into the Heroes Reborn main title?
Ayala: It is a bit of a "from the pages of Heroes Reborn, specifically the Nighthawk story." Gwen is in the Nighthawk issue, and when I was brought on, I was told that she was a character that editorial would love to see more fleshed out. It takes place right before the Nighthawk issue, but is absolutely in Heroes Reborn continuity!
Nrama: How is Night-Gwen different from Spider-Gwen?
Ayala: They aren't very similar at all. I love Spider-Gwen (so much!), but that is like asking 'how is Spider-Man different from Daredevil?'
The world that Nightbird inhabits (figuratively and literally) is darker, and so in response, she endeavors to shine brighter. She isn't really quippy, but she is very earnest. She has dedicated her 'day' life to trying to help heal some of the most violent, troubled people in society, and her 'night' life to protecting civilians from them. She's also a bit of a square, which is the opposite of Spider-Gwen, who is super cool! [Laughs]
Nrama: On the flip side, how is she similar?
Ayala: They both seek to help people. They are both heroes (as opposed to anti-heroes).
Nrama: Does this tie in at all to previous runs of Spider-Gwen/Ghost-Spider?
Ayala: Nope, this is purely related to the Heroes Reborn event! But, if they wanted to add Nightbird to multi-dimensional shenanigans, I would be absolutely tickled pink!
Nrama: Will we see any other familiar spider characters show up?
Ayala: We have a bunch of cameos in the issue. I am truly stoked to see how many people get!
Nrama: Did you have any input for Nightbird's costume design?
Ayala: Not a ton, mostly due to time (comics is a whip fast medium), but I did have some! Mostly in the 'here are a few designs, which feels more right to you?' way.
Nrama: Would you like to tackle Nightbird again?
Ayala: I wouldn't say no to hanging out with Dr. Gwen Stacy some more!
Nrama: And how about Spider-Gwen?
Ayala: I was actually lucky enough to write an annual [Ghost-Spider (2019-2020) Annual #1]! It was part of the 'Acts Of Evil' movement, where heroes went up against villains they normally would not. We took Spider-Gwen/Ghost-Spider to Murderworld, and it was a blast!
Nrama: Will this story affect Spider-Gwen's future or is it just a one and done?
Ayala: Because of the way that stories, dimensions/universes, and characters interact and interweave, I'm honestly not sure! It would be interesting to see Nightbird have a bigger role in the Marvel universe!
Spider-Gwen is one of the best Spider-Men of all time.