It’s no secret that Spider-Woman hasn’t really been delivering compelling stories these past few months. It started off with a whimper and progessively worsened. The issues didn’t enhance “Spider-Verse” in any meaningful way, particularly #3 which was pointless for anyone reading Amazing Spider-Man. Given these lackluster releases, I was a bit hesitant to pick up Spider-Woman #4, a story set after “Spider-Verse” but before Jessica Drew goes off on her own. Yet I was pleseantly surprised after finishing the most recent comic. Following some pretty dull, increasingly inferior issues, it seems as if Spider-Woman is finally starting to find its footing.
Before the good stuff can happen, there are some loose ends to tie up in Loomworld, but everything that’s not quite right with Spider-Woman #4 happens here. This isnt too much of a surprise knowing how poor the book has been, but it’s disappointing nonetheless. Returning to Loomworld seems unneccesary and immediately drags the book down. With the major arc of “Spider-Verse” done, these pages don’t tie up Jessica’s role in any engaging way. It’s pointless filler that’s dished out in pretty packaging. Equally odd is the inclusion of Spiders like Silk and Spider-Gwen into the scene. They have fewer ties to this world than Jessica does, and other than a bad Eminem joke and a quick battle scene, there’s no reason for them to be there. Though not as cringe-worthy as some of the other scenes that have appeared in Spider-Woman’s mediocre series, they don’t benefit this issue in any way.
When the book eventually transitions back to New York and away from the mess of “Spider-Verse,” it takes a quick turn for the better. The chains of the big event are thrown off and, in doing so, the series becomes invigorated. The greatest shining spot in this issue is the dynamic between Spider-Woman, Carol Danvers, and Steve Rogers. Unlike the forced humor between Spider-Woman and the other Spiders, the jokes and camraderie that flow between these three feels more natural.The lightness that comes with this new grouping is starkly different to the heaviness of the previous installments of Spider-Woman. Jessica’s ditched the poop jokes for lines that are actually funny, while both Carol and Steve play along in equally humorous ways. There’s a clear voice and a nice handful of chuckles, two things that have been alarmingly missing in previous issues.
In addition to the improved script, the art is another aspect of Spider-Woman of which to take note. As always, D’Armata’s coloring has a nice pop to it without being juvenile. However, equally impressive is the cover. Though Greg Land’s art tends toward the repetitive, especially where females are concerned, this cover doesn’t appear overly sexualized. In fact, Jessica looks like she’s ready to take charge and get things done. She finally appears as a hero who doesn’t have to contort her body in unrealistic ways in order to be noticed. After the disaster that was the cover for issue #2, this is a welcome change. With Javier Rodriguez on board for upcoming issues, I expect even superior art as Spider-Woman continues.
Honestly , I wasn’t anticipating much from issue #4, but after finishing it, I believe this comic’s main problem was being launched alongside “Spider-Verse.” It lacked life and fell flat, but as Jessica embarks on a new journey, the comic feels more thoughtful, funny, and generally enjoyable. It’s hard to believe that #4 stems from the same series about which I’ve been complaining. This is the easily the best Spider-Woman issue so far and hopefully promises an upward trajectory for a book that’s otherwise felt stale since its launch.
Though it begins with an odd, unnecessary scenario, Spider-Woman takes a turn for the better. A nice dynamic between the characters, good jokes, and some lovely art keeps this issue from being dragged down by "Spider-Verse."