REVIEW: ‘Spider-Man: Spider’s Shadow,’ Issue #4

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Spider-Man Spider Shadow #4

Spider-Man: Spider’s Shadow #4 is written by Chip Zdarsky, illustrated by Pasqual Ferry, colored by Matt Hollingsworth, and lettered by VC’s Joe Caramagna. It is published by Marvel Comics. The story picks up immediately after the end of the previous issue, with Peter Parker’s identity as Spider-Man revealed to the world. Peter has little time to worry about this, as the Symbiote has possessed Reed Richards and made the Fantastic Four’s Baxter Building a Symbiote-infested hive. With the help of Johnny Storm and Mary Jane Watson, Peter enters the Baxter Building to stop Richards from infesting the superhero community with symbiotes.

Though the book still contains horror elements-such as Richards and Ben Grimm/The Thing being possessed by symbiotes-it features notes of hope which has always been a hallmark in the best Spider-Man stories. The reason I love Peter Parker as a character is that despite life kicking him in the teeth repeatedly, he manages to get back up and keep fighting. Even stories such as Kraven’s Last Hunt and Spider-Man: The Lost Years, despite featuring extremely heavy psychological themes, have slivers of hope within their narrative. Spider’s Shadow continues in that tradition by having Peter continue to fight despite being outnumbered by aliens who have possessed heroes that are smarter and stronger than him.

Zdarsky also taps into Peter’s innate sense of responsibility by having him be proactive in his choices, whether it’s to face the symbiote possessed Richards or to finally enter a relationship with MJ. Perhaps the best scene in the comic for me is when Peter takes off his mask to tell Captain America that no matter what, he’s going to fix the mistake he made-that is pure Spider-Man at work, and it’s a joy to behold. Zdarsky also gets the chance to utilize other characters, including MJ, who arms herself with a pistol in final girl tradition, and Johnny Storm-whose friendship with Peter has been seriously strained.

Art-wise, Ferry and Hollingsworth don’t hold back. The horror elements come back into play during the back half of the issue, as the Baxter Building is covered in jet black tendrils inside and outside. And Reed Richards himself is a nightmare; his entire head is covered by the Symbiote, with the same soulless white eyes and grin that came to define Venom. And he is encased from head to toe in a suit of armor that protects him from various Symbiote-related weaknesses such as fire; even his word balloons shift to a more Venom-esque cadence with references to “We” and “us.” I’m glad that everyone on the creative team understands that a symbiote’s malevolence combined with the intelligence of Mister Fantastic is a combination that nobody needs or wants.

Ferry also gets the chance to draw a fight between Spider-Man and the Thing, the ferocity of which is offset by Hollingsworth’s brighter color art. Spidey is shown as a flurry of images, as he strikes Ben hard and fast with webbing and fists. And the artists also have the chance to depict other heroes in their 80’s era costumes, including Iron Man in his Silver Centurion armor and Cyclops in his X-Factor uniform. It’s a clear reminder of the time period this story is set in, which truly makes it feel like an alternate universe.

Spider-Man: Spider’s Shadow #4 heads toward its grand conclusion, serving up hope and horror in equal measure throughout its duration. With one issue left, I’m not sure where the creative team plans to take this story, but I’m sure it won’t be a disappointment given the previous installments.

Spider-Man: Spider’s Shadow #4 is available now wherever comics are sold.

Spider-Man Spider's Shadow #4
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TL;DR

Spider-Man: Spider’s Shadow #4 heads toward its grand conclusion, serving up hope and horror in equal measure throughout its duration. With one issue left, I’m not sure where the creative team plans to take this story, but I’m sure it won’t be a disappointment given the previous installments.