I love the idea of Spidey. The idea of a classic, easy to pick up, and truly all-ages Spider-Man title is fantastic and, in my opinion, exactly what Marvel should be putting out. That said, the reality has not fully lived up to that lofty dream. It’s not that Spidey has been bad – far from it – but it hasn’t quite had the necessary spark.
That may change this month.
With Spidey #4, Robbie Thompson follows in the footsteps of Amazing Spider-Man #5 and pits our green Peter Parker against Doom himself! Thompson’s version of Doom captures the intelligence, arrogance, and sophistication of the classic villain. Doctor Doom is probably a little beyond the Wall-Crawler’s abilities, whether now or in the past, but that only serves to make the adventure extra exciting.
As ever, the biggest strength of this issue is Peter Parker. I fully admit that Thompson’s script hits a little close to home for me, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing and I think that, especially considering the amount of space he has available to him, this issue presents an objectively strong way to build Peter’s character for readers of this title. I would have loved to focus on the idea of Peter needing to take a day off a little more, but the story allows us a look at who Peter Parker is and, better than most, conveys that he’s dealing with a lot, including a significant loss.
I’m still not loving the failed quips. I get that Pete’s young and awkward, but his quips fall flat more often than they succeed. Not only does it not feel like Spidey would gain a reputation for banter this way, but each one takes up a lot of time in a single issue story. An occasional miss would
The structure of the issue is a little too well-trod. It’s effective but it’s also predictable and there are moments where things get a little too schmaltzy. A little more space probably could have helped and, though that’s partially a restriction of the single-issue format, it’s also a trade-off of some of the more impressive layouts of the issue. Thompson is obviously aiming to recapture some of the essential awe of doing whatever a spider can and, in my estimation, he does an admirable job. One single-splash page is especially effective at communicating the scale and visual splendor of the wall-crawler’s exploits.
These exploits are rendered by Andre Lima Araújo, who previously worked on the Secret Wars: Spider-Verse series. Araújo’s art is significantly improved over that artistically polarizing series. There are still some weird faces, but once the masks are on, things look much better. Thompson gives Araújo plenty of room to stretch his wings and,he happily obliges, ably realizing the big, high-motion pages and capitalizing on the quiet, introspective moments of the script. The dynamic, sometimes even curved, perspectives grant the issue appropriate speed and energy, worthy of its teenaged protagonist.
Though it occasionally has to use broad strokes, Spidey #4 tells a wonderful story, full of heart. Robbie Thompson really gets Peter Parker and he has a blast with Doctor Doom. It’s sad that Nick Bradshaw couldn’t contribute to the series’ best story yet, but Andre Lima Araújo manages to make this one his own and demonstrates considerable growth from Spider-Verse. Though it’s not a must have, Spidey #4 proves that this series can deliver on its promise, giving us a really solid issue, that combines classic storytelling, big action, and beautiful little character moments into a wonderful whole.