Spine Tingling Spider-Man Creators: Writer- Saladin Ahmed, Artist- Juan Ferreyra, Letterer- VC’s Joe Caramagna
Big showdown time, as Spidey gets his powers back courtesy of some assistance from Spidercide and goes for his head on collision with the mastermind behind his latest nightmare. Now with his powers back, Spidey overcomes the Jackal‘s last few obstacles with ease, dispatches him pretty easily and then wonders how lasting an effect this whole affair will have on him.
In two sentences worth of plot, the whole thing is wrapped up and I’m of two minds about it. This is like watching a really slow burn tense horror film like Hereditary and then it suddenly getting put on rapid rails for a Scream type finally. It works for Scream cause it has a brisker pace, but not with Hereditary, and I feel like this fourth issue is more like the last part of the former than the latter.
I didn’t feel the tension or sense of dread the previous issues established here. The mastermind being the Jackal makes a lot of sense. He certainly has the intelligence and capability of everything we saw in the issue previously. His whole motive of breaking down Peter mentally also tracks even though his plans in recent years have been on a bigger scale I’m not apposed to him going back to his core root of trying to mess with and/or kill the man he blames for the death of the woman he had a creepy obsession with.
It just feels a little too…easy? Like Spidercide literally presses a button on a remote and the case is wrapped up. It’s a fine finale, but I think the vibe is slightly off and although I can’t think of how, I feel the finale could have been more.
I am in complete agreement. Each issue prior to this was a slow build. Some facet of Peter’s life was broken down, or he was faced with a new, frightening dilemma. There was room to breathe and feel the impact on Peter. It felt more like a character driven story with some real impact. Here, the reader can sense that it is over the minute that Spidercide flips the switch. Peter immediately goes to the Jackal and physically dismantles him in a few pages. Yes, there are lingering effects on his psyche that he will have to deal with, but he won and returned to normal life all in a few pages
Overall, I really enjoyed the story. The first three issues were a real surprise having Spidey be in a horror comic, but it really worked. And, it worked because Ahmed cleverly made his life frightening by hitting him where he would hurt the most, with those close to him. Not monsters under the bed, but the loss of what he holds dear to him. I really enjoyed his writing here; I just would have preferred for it to have been a five issue mini rather than four. The ending needed to breathe a little.
What vibes that remain is all down to Juan Ferreya’s excellent art. The Jackal who looks particularly terrifying which is something as his original design borders on the goofy side. The character didn’t get his upgrade to the sinister levels until he was brought back in the 90’s and was given a Joker-like redesign. When he was finally brought back by Dan Slott after many years away, the original costume did too and current artists have done a great job making it super creepy instead of silly, but Ferreya is the best to date.
The images linger after the last page which emphasises the Jackal’s last little boast to Peter about this little tale sticking with him. Few other villains have got into Peter’s head like Miles Warren (only Norman, Harry, Kraven, Venom and Ock immediately spring to mind) sop this makes sense. In a finale with an odd shift in tone in terms of pace, the art still delivers the goods.
The story itself was good, but the art is outstanding. I’ve said it in other reviews, but I will say it again. Juan Ferreyra might be the best kept secret in comics…..and hopefully not for much longer. He absolutely excels at character work and layouts. His Spider-Man is fluid as Spidey should be. His Peter is likable and emotes the way a normal person should in this circumstance. His Jackal is terrifying and worthy of being the villain in this book. His backgrounds are fleshed out and frame the action well. And finally, his layouts are amazing! The two page spread with heavy action in the middle, and a foreshortened fist that would make Jack Kirby proud centers our attention, while the close ups around the central action deliver the intensity and ferocity of Spider-Man. It is beautiful to look at it and really delivers the emotion. This is one of two beautiful double page spreads. The other has a spoke like layout with the action emanating from a central motion of Spider-Man punching a hole through an androids stomach.
Sometimes double page spreads can seem lazy and feel like a cop out. These are works of art and move the story beautifully in short order. Reminds me of J.H. Williams and that’s a huge compliment. I’m a story guy first, but this art will bring me back over and over.
Glenn: 3.5 Webshooters
Steve: 4 Webshooters (3 for story and 5 for art)
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