Ghost-Spider #4 Review

by Charles Martin on November 27, 2019

Ghost-Spider #4 Review
Writer: Seanan McGuire
Penciller: Takeshi Miyazawa
Inker: Rosi Kämpe
Colourist: Ian Herring
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Publisher: Marvel Comics

I have been on the Spider-Gwen beat a lot, and this is my third straight review of an issue of Ghost-Spider. I probably should have spaced my attention out more.

While I've enjoyed Ghost-Spider #2, #3, and now #4, I get a terrible feeling that in six months, it's going to be really hard for me to tell them apart. 

They all do a good job of balancing the plot threads weaving around Gwen. She's got her college life on Earth-616 up and running, she has the 616-Jackal gunning for her, she has the Man-Wolf and the 65-Jackal (I hope he owns the "Scavenger" moniker Man-Wolf is pushing on him) plotting against her back home, she's even making regular appearances at band practice.

And once per issue, she gets involved in a thrilling fight with Man-Wolf's gangster lackeys. 

#4's action scene is the biggest and best yet, offering Gwen a hospital hostage situation to defuse. The fight visuals are gorgeous, with dynamic acrobatics and powerful colours amping up the mood. The hero pulls out Scary Venom-esque Gwen for a moment to interrogate the last lackey standing. And the presence of hostages -- a young girl in particular -- opens up the opportunity for great Spider-civilian interplay.

Thanks to Seanan McGuire's passionate scripting, the less punchy-thwippy parts of #4 are just as enjoyable as the fight scene. Gwen's thoughts and feelings are fascinating. She's fretting about Benji's absence throughout the issue, fielding some low-grade flirting from classmate Kosei Sato, and gawping at the sight of MJ learning to manage her anger issues.

There's still some attention spared for the villains opposing Gwen, but it's less overwhelming than in the previous issue. 616-Jackal takes a step that'll have immediate and significant ramifications, but the Earth-65 villains make do with a single-page check-up.

The visuals continue to impress outside the fight, too. Ian Herring's colours are especially gorgeous in the first scene, where he drops a rich autumnal glow over ESU. Takeshi Miyazawa is brilliant throughout, but I'm particularly enamoured with the band practice page and the distinctive body language it gives to each musician.

The author has been incrementally refining the same "balanced plot" formula issue by issue throughout this title. While the results are positive and #4 is a stronger, more enjoyable installment than those that came before, the overall pacing may be getting problematic. 

Gwen's gotten room to breathe and flourish while her antagonists' plans inch forward. Ms. McGuire has made impressive additions and modifications to the supporting cast. But I'm worried that in hindsight, these first four issues will condense down into "stuff that happened before the Jackal struck."

Plus side? That Jackal strike is on deck for #5, and the series so far has done a terrific job of sharpening my anticipation for it!

Ghost-Spider #4 is probably the title's best issue so far, despite its unfortunate tendency to blur together with previous installments. This one looks great, promotes sympathy and intrigue, and finally (I hope) sets the stage for the direct Ghost-Spider/Jackal confrontation that is perhaps a little overdue.

Our Score:


A Look Inside


Charles Martin's picture
That first panel of band practice with the MJs is an excellent candidate for conversion into computer wallpaper.