Returning to the home world of the Inheritors, Jessica Drew checks in with her alternate self aboard a pirate ship in “Spider-Woman” #4, written by Dennis Hopeless and drawn by Greg Land. It’s an odd choice, sure, but a fun one that Hopeless leverages to give readers a chance to encounter Jessica Drew as simply Spider-Woman.
Hopeless makes it quite clear that the adventures of “Spider-Verse” have changed Jessica and that she needs some time to be Jess, not an Avenger, A.I.M., Hydra or S.H.I.E.L.D. member. Just Jess. It’s not very often that a series changes direction in its fourth issue, let alone uses that entire issue to effect that transition, but Hopeless gives readers a chance to breathe. Spider-Woman is afforded the same luxury and also has a chance to hang out with her best friend, Carol “Captain Marvel” Danvers.
That doesn’t mean “Spider-Woman” #4 is filled with navel-gazing, heavy sighs or hand-wringing. Hopeless empowers Spider-Woman to take charge, to empower others around her to take charge and to bravely forge her way into the world around her.
The art in “Spider-Woman” #4 is the standard-issue mixed bag from Greg Land. Yes, it still very much looks overly photo-referenced and, yes, that works better in some scenes more than others, but — in being so photo-dependent — Land gives readers some great stuff, like when the two Drews are talking. His consistency between the two ladies is warming and disarming, inviting readers into the drawing like a flawless “Find the Differences between These People” game. As Land is prone to do, however, he also delivers some less-than-stellar drawings. He apparently has problems with characters’ eyes, especially Silk and Captain Marvel, as the two ladies range from C.C. Beck-inspired slits to manga-esque saucers. The anatomy struggles don’t stop with eyes, however, as AraÃ±a loses her neck when she leaps into action and the rampaging beast travels without ground to purchase upon at times. For every less-than-great drawing, however, Land provides some fun elements and ideas, like his entertaining double-page montage of the events of “Spider-Verse.”
No stranger to photo-referenced drawings, colorist Frank D’Armata highlights and darkens Land’s work throughout “Spider-Woman” #4. D’Armata brings a lot of the same effects from “Iron Man” to this book and they work well, both with Land’s style and the settings in place. Some effects — like the intense sunlight — seem a little over-the-top but, filtered as a metaphor for the end and beginning present in this issue, it all works. Travis Lanham’s letters are solid throughout the book as well. This is critical, as there is a lot of talking in “Spider-Woman” #4, but Lanham balances the balloons nicely throughout, preserving Land’s drawings as much as possible.
Despite being a transition issue, “Spider-Woman” #4 is a good read, nicely buttoning up Jessica’s involvement in “Spider-Verse” while also dropping hints at things to come. Nothing in this issue is overly surprising or world-changing, but Hopeless and company avoid prescribed cliches and give readers a tight, concise adventure sealed with a promise of even more change and growth for Jessica Drew.