Review: SPIDER-WOMAN #4

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SPIDER-WOMAN #4
Written by Dennis Hopeless
Art by Javier Rodriguez, Alvaro Lopez, and Rachelle Rosenberg
Published by Marvel Comics
Release Date: February 17, 2016

It’s the hospital visit that destroys all of Jessica Drew’s faith in any healthcare system… including one run by Alpha Flight. Jessica quips and kicks Skrull butt. Carol Danvers (aka Captain Marvel) worries, frets and looks for ways to save the day when her hands are tied. Then the real emergency strikes and a new friend works to save the day.

Since the newest volume of the Hopeless-Rodriguez Spider-Woman launched, Jessica has been living with a change in her status quo: pregnancy. What has been amazing is throughout Jessica’s quest for normalcy, the creative team has not changed her into a delicate wallflower. Sure, there have been plenty around her, including bestie Carol, who want her sidelined. However, in the last few issues, the creative team has found clever ways to show that pregnant women can resent these limitations… and also deal with the consequences of being pushed too far.

Once again, the art team of Rodriguez, Lopez and Rosenberg create a uniform and fun environment, despite all the danger. Rodriguez and Lopez facial expressions sell, without making Jessica seem abnormally thin or too comic book like for a pregnant woman. Layouts add to dynamic transitions and powerful page turns (or phone swipes if you’re digitally inclined.) The human, or alien in some cases, focus of the art has consistently been a seller on this series. Issue four is no exception. In the previous issue Jessica found an ally in a Skrull prince, that a hospital invading Skrull group is looking to kidnap. This issue, facial expression and body language play a huge roll in providing humor and adventure from the prince with cancer who still will not stand idly by while his new friend is in pain.

*SPOILER WARNING*

It is inevitable that some readers will be annoyed by Jessica’s amazing physical display right after a c-section. Sure, they’re ignoring the fact that it is occurring with a super-human ,at a hospital in the middle of a black hole, during a Skrull attack… yeah, her exertion right after surgery is a bit much. Yet, it tapped into that primal feeling that many women experience, right after childbirth. Despite all the exhaustion, you feel like you could take on the world. Jessica Drew gets the opportunity to do just that. I fully admit that this whole issue had me in near tears; recalling each instance of my own children’s birth.

This is what superhero comics are made for: to take relatable, life impacting moments and push them to the next level. You can tell that Hopeless, Rodriguez and Lopez are pouring their feelings about new parenthood into this book. So many superhero books write off this momentous, life changing event. There has been a lot of concern, from fans, about how this story would be handled. Would it be sincere? Was it just a gimmick? Concern also that this story would be quickly shelved, retconned or dismissed in some form or fashion. Seriously, how many women lead superhero books do you know that have children, keep them, and continue to have superheroics continue? We are only four issues in, however the tone alone shows a serious commitment by this creative team to tell a story that many parents can relate to and enjoy reading.

On a personal side note: I often do not like to make reviews personal. I try to think about it from my own point of view, and the point of view of those who would think the opposite of how I read it. I try to identify what it is they would not like and take that into consideration. Things are different this time. Every time I try to dig deep to think of something analytical to say about the story I find myself just feeling thankfulness and tears. These are the types of stories of parenthood I love to read in superhero comics.

By the end of our story Jessica Drew finds that her plans for the perfect birth have failed. That is the case for more often than not. Yet, she still has a beautiful boy in her arms. Hopeless does not take the spotlight off of this moment by bringing up the paternity of the new baby boy. Rodriguez and Lopez do not shy away from showing breastfeeding. Rosenberg does mute any colors to hide what is happening on the page. Jessica and Carol are happy and joyous, and it’s just such a perfect ending; told in a fun and adventure packed way.

Parenthood as a beginning, and not an end, is now at the heart of Spider-Woman.

The Verdict: 10/10

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