Mark Bagley and Dan Slott’s Spider-Man takes big swings, offering an epic Spider-Verse-centric story that could change everything we know about the Great Web. One might think there’s no going back after the major character was seemingly killed the last issue, but there are Spider-Man characters still alive, another to uncover, and Madame Web needs to get a plan together as hers blew up. The heroes are in big trouble, but a turning of the tide is in order. …Right?
The cover of Spider-Man #4 suggests a new Peter Parker is entering the fray, but before we get to that, Dan Slott throws Cyborg Spider-Man and Dino Spider-Man into battle right off the bat. You can see in the preview characters are dying left and right. Nobody is ever really dead in comics, but it sure feels like Slott is taking big swings here that’ll change things forever. That’s exciting, and it gives the entire issue a blockbuster-style feel with plenty of character work along the way.
Namely, it feels like prestige television. Shows like Oz or Breaking Bad were great at killing off characters and making them feel important and exciting all at once. Spider-Man #4 delivers on that idea.
It’s not just about heroes dying, though, as Slott weaves in subtle clues and hints as to how Shathra might be taken down. There are at least two instances where you can see Slott seeding future twists for the hero’s favor making for a well-crafted epic. It’s interesting to see Madame Web’s plan completely taken apart–detailed well through captions here–reminding us she’s not the leader of the Spider-Revolution, but maybe that’s okay.
Customary of good epics, there are multiple big reveals in this issue too. Bagley draws maybe his best issue yet in the series, continuing to capture multiple Spider-Man characters on every page in epic detail or some cases, epic pixelated detail. The Earth 616-Beta Spider-Man is particularly well done in a nostalgic way that’ll have folks googling and trying to figure out if he’s real. There’s a kind of beauty in how Bagley can draw so many agile characters in mid-air battle, which we get two pages of here.
I do have minor gripes, but as a blockbuster with big action and meaningful moments, it’s hard to care. Two heroes sneak up on the main villain too quickly off the panel, for instance. Morlun continues to feel a bit out of place here with little to add with so many colorful Spider-Man characters on the page. They’re easy to ignore or write off, though.
Spider-Man #4 is possibly the best issue yet, as it has multiple big reveals, a turning point for heroes and villains, and an addictive sense of fun only Spider-Man characters could supply. This is the Spider-Man comic for Spider-Man lifers.
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