Spider-Woman #4

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 Araña 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.

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