Even do I am a big Spider-Man fan I could not bring myself to read Spider-Geddon. Everything about that event screamed cash-in. Unlike Spider-Verse, Spider-Geddon did not have the build up that made the event a must read. With that said, I could not help myself in staying away from the newly relaunched Spider-Gwen ongoing series. Even though her last ongoing series got weird towards the end Spider-Gwen has become one of my favorite Marvel characters. And with this latest issue spotlighting the aftermath of Spider-Geddon I am interested what it will mean for Spider-Gwen moving forward. Let’s find out with Spider-Gwen: Ghost Spider #4.
Writer: Seanan McGuire
Artist: Rosi Kampe and Takeshi Miyazawa
Colorist: Ian Herring
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Inside a warehouse Gwen Stacy furiously plays the drums. While she does so she thinks back to her origin and the death of Spider-UK (William Braddock, who along with Spider-Man: Noir died in Spider-Geddon).
Eventually Gwen breaks down and stops playing the drums. The ghost of Spider-UK appears and helps cheer Gwen up with his banter. Gwen finally composes herself and puts on her Ghost Spider costume.
In Loomworld the Spider-Men and Spider-Women of the multiverse gather around Karn’s dead body. Spider-Punk speaks up about how Karn died a hero who fought against the destiny his evil family tried to create. All of the Spider-Men and Spider-Women chant Karn’s name as a goodbye.
After all the Spider-Men and Spider-Women wrap Karn’s body in their webs Gwen starts crying over the deaths of Spider-UK and Spider-Man: Noir. Spider-Man: India (Pavitr Prabhakar) tells Gwen none of this is her fault and that they are all together as friends.
A little later the Spider-Men and Spider-Women gather for Karn’s funeral and watch as his body burns.
Gwen then talks to Mayday Parker, who says after all this she wants to watch her little brother Benji sleep. Gwen mentions that there is something for her to do. Mayday tells Gwen not to push herself to much.
All of the Spider-Men and Spider-Women then say their goodbyes to each other and start going back to their respective universes. Before he goes back to his universe Spider-Punk reminds Gwen that she is not alone in any fight.
Sometime later Gwen arrives on Earth-90214 (the home universe of Spider-Man: Noir). Gwen changes her Ghost Spider costume to match the noir setting of the universe.
She eventually is able to find where the Aunt May and Mary Jane of that universe help feed those in need. Gwen is able to pull Aunt May and MJ aside to talk.
Gwen reveals to both of them that their Peter died, revealing to them that he was Spider-Man and died a hero. Aunt May slaps Gwen and yells at her to get out over what she just revealed.
As Gwen runs outside MJ catches up to her. MJ says she always suspected her Peter was someone special and asks her to tell someone else what happened to him.
Gwen finds the Felicia Hardy of that world and breaks the news to her. Felicia hugs Gwen and thanks her for bringing Peter’s story back to her.
On Earth-803 (the home universe of the Lady Spider) Gwen goes to May Reilly (Lady Spider) and breaks the news of William Braddock’s death.
Later that night May gives a eulogy at William’s funeral, with the Spider-Men and Spider-Women of the multiverse in attendance. She talks about how he was a brother to her and how much she loved and will miss him.
Afterwards as the Spider-Men and Spider-Women are in May’s place talking and drinking Peter Parker from the main Marvel Universe notices Gwen outside.
Peter gives Gwen a hug as she is still having a hard time dealing with William’s death. They then sit and Peter listens to Gwen talk about the the other versions of them that have lost people they’ve loved and she doesn’t want to risk doing that to those she loves. Gwen says she wants to stay home now and wonders if that is selfish of her. Peter says being selfish is not a bad thing because while there is always someone that needs help that doesn’t mean they can’t have a moment to rest.
After joking about how there isn’t enough TV to rest forever Peter and Gwen say they are glad they got each other’s back (a callback to a talk they had during Spider-Verse). Peter and Gwen then go back inside to rejoin the others.
Sometime later Gwen is back in her home (Earth-65). Gwen thinks about how even if they all become ghost stories that doesn’t mean things are over because legends never die. Gwen then adjusts her mask and starts swinging through New York City. End of issue.
The Good: Spider-Gwen: Ghost Spider #4 was by far the best issue of this first story arc for the series. The previous issues of this story arc have felt like they had to tie themselves into Spider-Geddon. That is not the case with Spider-Gwen: Ghost Spider #4 as Seanan McGuire instead used the events of Spider-Geddon to tell a story that felt personal for Gwen Stacy.
Loss is never something that is easy to deal with. McGuire does a good job in showing this with how Gwen felt in the aftermath of the events in Spider-Geddon, which saw the deaths of Spider-UK and Spider-Man: Noir take place. The weight of these two alternate universe Spider-Man felt big because of how Gwen reacted emotionally. That reaction made these characters not just come across as throwaway alternate versions of Spider-Man. Even if your not familiar with these versions of Spider-Man McGuire was able to get across how much history they both had in their respective lives.
What’s most impressive about how McGuire handled these deaths in Spider-Gwen: Ghost Spider #4 is that she didn’t make the reader feel like they are missing details if you did not read Spider-Geddon. McGuire presents us with all the important details of major events in Spider-Geddon that were most pertinent to how she was exploring Gwen’s development. The attention paid to Karn, Spider-UK and Spider-Man: Noir’s death was enough to understand what impact they had on all the other Spider-Man and Spider-Woman.
McGuire also made good use of each Spider-Man and Spider-Woman that Gwen talked to throughout this issue. Spider-Punk’s speech was surprisingly inspirational, something that is unexpected from his character. The speech showed that they were all part of a major war that was deeply emotional to each of them.
While short, it was also good to see Gwen interact with Mayday Parker before they went back to their respective universes. The openness that they talked to each other with was refreshing. Even if they have not interacted much before they both share enough trust that little things like what they want to do now that Spider-Geddon is over they all deserve some rest.
That all set up the emotional journey Gwen placed for herself as she had to break the news to those close to Spider-UK and Spider-Man: Noir on her own. This showed how strong Gwen is as a character. Because as much as it hurt to talk about she had too much respect for Spider-UK and Spider-Man: Noir to tell those close to them about the news as Gwen, not as Spider-Woman. It carried much more emotional weight that Gwen did not hide behind a mask and showed how big of a person she is.
The reaction of Aunt May, MJ and Felicia Hardy in the Noir Universe and Lady Spider on Earth-803 was the expected reaction. McGuire made all of their reactions feel genuine as they each showed a wide array of emotions while dealing with the news of the death of their Spider-Man. Even if your not aware with Aunt May, MJ and Felicia Hardy in the Noir Universe and Lady Spider on Earth-803 respective history is the reaction they all had told you everything you needed to know about their story.
Taking all of these moments and culminating it with Spider-Gwen talking to the main Marvel Universe Peter Parker was appropriate. There was a full-circle feeling to the talk between the two. It all went back to their previous promise in Spider-Verse to watch each others back that was important. It continued that narrative in an emotionally impactful way with Peter doing his best to help Gwen.
With everything Gwen has been through as Spider-Woman Peter talking to her was exactly what she needed. She has been on the constant go since being introduced that she hasn’t really rested. Peter reminded her about how important it is for all of them, both physically and mentally, to rest was a great moment. McGuire made sure that importance was felt in the final page with Gwen’s thoughts that closed out Spider-Gwen: Ghost Spider #4.
Given the nature of Spider-Gwen: Ghost Spider #4 having two artists working on this issue was appropriate. Rosi Kampe and Takeshi Miyazawa were each able to focus on the tone for their assigned segments of this issue. It help create a different tone to each of the settings we visit as Spider-Gwen dealt with the aftermath of Spider-Geddon. At the same time, Kampe and Miyazawa each made sure there were aspects to their artwork that matched to maintain a consistency throughout the issue.
The Bad: The one thing that did hold Spider-Gwen: Ghost Spider #4 back was that, like the first three issues, it did not escape the feeling that it could be skip. Due to the tie-in to Spider-Geddon there was a sense that you could start with Spider-Gwen: Ghost Spider #5 without missing much. This first story arc felt more like it was targeted towards hardcore fans due to how much history is being used that is not just about Spider-Gwen. So for newer fans it does become hard to recommend this first story to be your introduction to the character. Instead it is better to wait for Spider-Gwen: Ghost Spider #5 to start reading this series if your a new to Spider-Gwen after the Into The Spider-Verse movie.
Overall: Spider-Gwen: Ghost Spider #4 is easily the best issue of this young series. Seanan McGuire did a great job using the events of Spider-Geddon to tell an emotional story around Gwen Stacy. How she dealt with the deaths of Spider-UK and Spider-Man: Noir made the character development that was delivered have major weight behind it. Where McGuire takes the series from here will be very interesting to see.