Jason Latour and Robbi Rodriguez continue to tweak the familiar and deliver a fresh, entertaining read in "Spider-Gwen" #4. This issue opens with a moment that provides a brief disconnect from the ongoing saga and brings readers up to speed on the events of Gwen Stacy's life.
The bulk of "Spider-Gwen" #4 is spent on character development and relationship building as Latour sends Gwen to the Parkers' house following the events of "Spider-Gwen" #3, which left the Stacys' residence less-than-preferred. Latour saturates the scene with Gwen's dread as "Uncle" Ben Parker approaches. Once inside the Parker abode, she has to continue to dodge the uneasiness without spilling her secrets to Ben and May. No punches are thrown, no webs are slung, but this scene is the most emotionally gripping segment of this series to date.
Robbi Rodriguez's art grabs the uncertainty and dread and puts it directly in the readers' faces. Packed with Bill Sienkiewicz-level energy, Rodriguez's art delivers the intensity and emotion of the characters but, like Sienkiewicz, he isn't a slave to picture-perfect anatomy, favoring emotional, gestural figures that convey the story and the emotional resonance packed into it.
Rodriguez brings plenty of details, and colorist Rico Renzi enhances it all nicely, from the faded Ben-Day dots of the newspaper articles in May's scrapbook to the wash of red lights as the Mary Janes take the stage. Renzi keeps the color palette of "Spider-Gwen" #4 as fresh as Rodriguez's art, with plenty of non-primary colors, especially mauves, purples, magentas, teals and greens. Further elevating this title's unique appearance, Clayton Cowles has established a style of word balloon that has no outline, truncated tails and a font that is more hand-lettered in appearance that most comic book fonts.
With characters like May and Ben Parker, Frank Castle and Jean DeWolff prowling the panels of "Spider-Gwen" #4, this comic book feels comfortable and familiar. Latour, Rodriguez, Renzi and Cowles embrace the benefit of using an alternate reality and tweak it just so to give readers a whole new universe to enjoy and explore. With names remaining the same but circumstances changing, "Spider-Gwen" must be to modern day comic book readers what Silver Age legacy characters were for more seasoned readers.
Whatever the case, there is simply no denying that Marvel has a very strong title in their roster with "Spider-Gwen." "Spider-Gwen" #4 is packed with character and heart, just another example of Marvel finding the right combination of characters and creators to produce something fun and worth looking forward to. I'm unclear how "Secret Wars" is going to impact this title, but I hope Latour and team are permitted to stick around. They've certainly earned it.