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Western Animation / Marvel Rising: Initiation

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Marvel Rising: Initiation is a series of six four-minute animated shorts, and the first animated entry in the Marvel Rising franchise. The shorts debuted August 13, 2018 on Disney XD, before being posted online the following day on the official Marvel Rising website.

After Ghost-Spider once again evades capture from the NYPD, Captain George Stacy enlists the help of S.H.I.E.L.D. to apprehend her. The reason? Months earlier, an young Inhuman named Kevin was found murdered in an abandoned warehouse, with the only other person present being the aforementioned web-slinger. However, Ghost-Spider isn't the culprit, with the real assailant being an unknown woman who left the scene shortly before the police arrived. The shorts follow the beginnings of her efforts to clear her name and avenge her friend's death, while Patriot and Daisy Johnson attempt to bring her into custody. Meanwhile, Squirrel Girl and Ms. Marvel are in the city for their first superhero team-up.

Initiation can be viewed here or here as individual shorts, or here as a compilation.

Neither Ghost-Spider or her plot made an appearance in the next Marvel Rising entry, Marvel Rising: Secret Warriors. The character's story was continued in Marvel Rising: Chasing Ghosts, a 22-minute television special premiering January 16, 2019 on the Marvel HQ Youtube channel.

Contains examples of:

  • Adaptational Backstory Change: In the comics, Gwen Stacy initially used her powers for fun and profit before hearing her father criticize her persona for wasting her talents. Afterwards, she begins crime-fighting, but her commitment to do so is only cemented after she fights the Lizard, who turns out to be her best friend Peter Parker. Peter dies from his injuries after reverting back to normal, and Gwen spends over thirty issues as a fugitive, with the goal of becoming a better hero so her best friend wouldn't have died in vain. In the cartoon, it's implied that this Gwen was a hero from day one. Instead of Peter Parker, her best friend was an Inhuman named Kevin, who she was helping train to become a superhero as well. Rather than him accidentally dying by Gwen's hands, Kevin was murdered by a Kree villain during his first patrol, with Gwen being framed for the crime.
  • Adaptation Distillation: Patriot is portrayed as a costumed SHIELD agent like Quake, a wholly original concept to this continuity.
  • Adaptation Name Change: Gwen calls herself Ghost-Spider instead of Spider-Woman here. However, in a piece of Ret-Canon, this would not only become the character's name in future adaptations, but the original comic version would start using the "Ghost-Spider" codename as well beginning in Ghost-Spider (2019), once she began regularly operating in both her native dimension and the main Marvel universe.
  • Calling Your Attacks: After she and Ms. Marvel have trouble capturing Ghost Spider, Squirrel Girl suggests that they start fighting "anime-style", referring to this trope. And it actually works because it helps them coordinate with each other.
  • Canon Foreigner: Kevin, though he doesn't last long due to taking Peter Parker's place as Gwen's dead friend.
  • Clear My Name: Part of the plot involved Ghost Spider being blamed for a crime she didn't commit and trying to clear her name. Said crime? The murder of her best friend Kevin, who had developed Inhuman powers and wanted to help her fight crime.
  • Composite Character: Ghost-Spider is mostly Gwen Stacy, but she has the partially dyed pink hair of Gwen Poole, and her alias previously belonged to one of the many alternate universe Peter Parkers.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: The first short has Ghost Spider casually doing this to the police before web-swinging away. She later gets a taste of her own medicine when facing Daisy, who only needs a single quake blast from behind to disable her.
  • Destination Defenestration: The Initiation shorts start out with Ghost-Spider jumping out of a window, something that she didn't do on purpose.
  • Evil Twin: Squirrel Girl mentions this as a possible reason for Ghost Spider's turn to villainy, in a jab at comics' tendencies to use similar plot devices.
    Squirrel Girl: Okay, one, we don't know that she went bad, it could've always been a clone.
  • Foe Romance Subtext: Ghost Spider and Patriot's banter while he's trying to capture her.
    Ghost Spider: Isn't there a Ms. Patriot or something that you'd rather be with? I'm sure there's like a... malt shop, somewhere in Williamsburg.
    Patriot: Come on, Ghost Spider. You know you're the only girl for me.
  • Full-Name Ultimatum: When Tippy-Toe is trying to get into the cupcakes, Squirrel Girl scolds her: "Tippy-Toe T. T-Toes. What happened to sharing?"
  • An Ice Person: Gwen's friend Kevin was an Inhuman that had the ability to generate ice blasts.
  • Ironic Echo: When Patriot finds Ghost Spider again, she remarks, "That's so… tenacious," before gliding away. Moments later, he catches her in the air and as they're wrestling, she angrily asks, "Don't you ever give up?" to which he replies, "What can I say? I'm so… tenacious."
  • It's Personal: Gwen's father is particularly motivated to catch Ghost Spider because Kevin was a good friend of his daughter, and everyone is positive that Ghost Spider killed him. And while Gwen definitely wants to clear her name, her main motivation is to avenge her friend's death.
  • Let's You and Him Fight: Because of Ghost Spider's Clear My Name status, she spends Initiation fighting Ms. Marvel and Squirrel Girl, as well as Patriot and Quake.
  • Life Drain: Sheath's energy daggers drain the life from whoever they cut.
  • Mistaken for Murderer: Gwen/Ghost-Spider is mistaken for the person who murdered her best friend Kevin.
  • Platonic Life-Partners: Gwen and Kevin appeared to be this before the latter's death.
  • Plot-Triggering Death: Kevin's death. Ghost Spider is accused of killing him, setting her on a quest to clear her name that leads to her meeting the future members of the Secret Warriors.
  • Sarcastic Confession: Gwen tells her bandmates that her disheveled appearance is due to being chased by a SWAT team for six blocks. They laugh it off and assume she merely passed out after stuffing herself with pizza rolls.
  • Secret-Keeper: Kevin, Gwen's murdered friend, knew that she was Ghost Spider. After his Inhuman powers awakened, they were going to work together, only for Sheath to kill him before their first patrol.
  • Shaping Your Attacks: Sheath, the Inhuman girl Gwen fights, battles using energy daggers that seem to drain the life energy from whoever they touch, with one graze nearly incapacitating her. The fact that they don't leave any marks is what led the police to believe Ghost Spider was responsible for Kevin's death, since Sheath left no evidence.
  • "Super Sentai" Stance: When Squirrel Girl, Ms. Marvel, and Tippy-Toe confront Ghost-Spider, they pull a symmetrical team pose, the former two crouching and thrusting their fists up to form a triangle while Tippy leaps up between them.
  • That Poor Cat: When Ghost-Spider crashes in the alley after Tippy-Toe chews through her web line, a cat yowl can be heard.
  • You Have to Believe Me!: Ghost Spider protests her innocence to anyone who will listen. Ms. Marvel and Squirrel Girl believe her once she's able to show them her friendship bracelet, while Daisy is convinced by her description of the culprit, as it matches another case she's working on. Patriot doesn't, however, saying she's just trying to talk her way out of prison time.
  • You Just Told Me: When Daisy indicates to Ghost Spider that she knows she's Captain Stacy's daughter Gwen, Ghost Spider takes off her mask and questions how Daisy knew that. She admits she didn't; it was just a hunch based on how scared she was when in his presence.
    Daisy/Quake: I saw how you clammed up when he talked to you. Only a dad's disappointment hurts like that.