One of the main truths about Spider-Man is he’s always strongest when he’s at his lowest. Given how badly he’s beaten by Tombstone and his men in Amazing Spider-Man, one can imagine he will spring back stronger than ever in this week’s issue. More or less he does, but at a price! Zeb Wells and John Romita Jr.’s new direction for the series continues with Amazing Spider-Man #4, and the issue turns out to be the strongest of the new story arc so far.
The latest issue picks up where we left off as Spider-Man has been shackled by Tombstone’s men. They plan an attack on innocent folks, but due to Spider-Man being weakened and the strength of his shackles he can’t do anything about it. The opening actually features Mary Jane — a character who has more mystery surrounding her than ever now that she has kids — who is alerted to the fact that Spider-Man is in trouble. Given how defeated he is in the preview, one can only guess at how this plays out.
This issue works well because it pays off the slow buildup of the last two issues. Spider-Man has a chip on his shoulder in this latest story arc in part because six months have passed and he’s more alone than ever. One could argue Wells has put Spider-Man in a weak position because he’s alone, but also because he has to live with whatever mistake he made. Don’t expect any new answers or leads on the big mystery, but do expect to be satisfied with how the story plays out.
John Romita Jr. and inker Scott Hanna continue to do exceptional work. You can feel the weight of Spider-Man and it’s no surprise given Romita’s unique and at this point legendary pencil work. Hanna keeps every panel and page looking slick and sharp. In a double-page layout, we see Spider-Man breaking through a vault door and you can make out every web in Spidey’s costume with a pleasing blur effect lifting him off the page from the smoke behind him.
Colors by Marco Menyz are great too, supplying extra light as needed or pleasing rosy cheeks to Mary Jane. There are some well-placed lumps on Spider-Man’s head that are aided by the shadow work by Menyz.
Lettering is also good, especially the sound effects. Joe Caramagna really goes for it with the onomatopoeia, adding a whole other layer that screams “comics!” A shout from Spider-Man like “Gyaarkkk” spills out of a word balloon or the ruffled outline of Tombstone’s word balloons adds a little something extra.
Amazing Spider-Man #4 is a satisfying issue thanks to the story paying off the slow build of the last two issues. We still may be in the dark when it comes to the big mystery, but it’s satisfying to see Spider-Man overcome impossible odds and yet continue to be down on his luck. We wouldn’t have it any other way.
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