Spider-Woman #4 Review

by Charles Martin on September 23, 2020

Spider-Woman #4 Review
Writer: Karla Pacheco
Artist: Pere Pérez
Colourist: Frank D'Armata
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Publisher: Marvel Comics

This issue launches straight into the standard follow-up to a surprise resurrection: The pull-back-the-curtain exposition explaining how/why they're alive. 

Thus, the driving force of the narrative starts in the hands of Jess's non-dead mother, Miriam. Jess's role is to react (very enjoyably) as Miriam lays out the bizarre twists her life has gone through. She had a second child -- who's now older than Jess -- and faked her own death to get off Hydra's radar. And, she swears, she's been working tirelessly and constantly to solve her children's and grandchildren's super-science problems. 

And also surveilling Jessica with bugs planted in her new costume. Despite accepting Miriam's identity, Jess is far from okay with everything she's done. She also isn't ready to take all of Miriam's exposition at face value, which is the smart move on her part.

Octavia Vermis rolls up in the last act to provide some antagonism. Here Jessica gets to pivot toward the driver's seat. While Miriam and Michael introduce the compound's various defences, it's Jess who takes the lead in riding out to fight Octavia.

Riding on what? Oh, just freaky Wundagore dinosaur-animal hybrids! It looks just as absurdly awesome as it sounds, thanks mainly to Pere Pérez aiming sky-high on the art. The creatures are great, the action bursts with movement and the characters are gorgeous.

A minor aside: You know what Pere Pérez's art reminds me of? Greg Land's. Except versatile -- he brings Landian levels of polish to a spectacular variety of characters rather than relying on one very small pool of "actors."

This issue is also an artistic portfolio piece when it comes to layouts. Mr. Pérez plays some impressive tricks with blocking and panel arrangement, adding interest to the story without compromising its narrative flow.

Frank D'Armata puts the finishing touches on the visuals with some very intelligent colour work. The issue overall is evenly split between bright outdoor scenes and indoor scenes that tend to have heavy mood lighting. Mr. D'Armata shows off his know-how by accurately adjusting the colours of the character's costumes to reflect the different environments. Compare the strong green used for Octavia's outfit outside to the muted olive used for a red-washed scene -- brilliant!

This issue's script is not quite in the same home-run category as its art, but it's far from disappointing. Karla Pacheco retains a rock-solid grip on her character's voices, making them a pleasure to read. Octavia and Jess going into all-out snark-to-snark combat is a particular delight.

But the sheer volume and weirdness of Miriam's exposition inevitably slow the story's pace. I don't think there was any way of avoiding this; all of this information will be necessary as the story moves forward. 

There's also a bit of potentially-frustrating vagueness in the super-science. I wasn't being brusque when I said Miriam wants to solve her offsprings' science problems; I don't believe there's much more available. But on the other hand, previous issues have dived into the nitty-gritty more deeply and I think we can reasonably expect future ones to do the same.

Spider-Woman #4 repeatedly surprises Jess as her mother piles up hard-to-swallow life-story twists. And then Octavia attacks, necessitating an awesome-looking dinosaur fight. This issue answers some questions and raises more (maybe a few too many), though it's just one chapter in a larger narrative. It's a satisfying one and it looks gorgeous; this is definitely a treat for committed fans.

Our Score:


A Look Inside


Charles Martin's picture
The page with the panels arranged to make a spider design with the gutters is some really impressive layout work.