If you keep up with the sales numbers Marvel puts out, Spider-Woman isn’t breaking any records. It’s neither the bestselling B-title nor is it even the bestselling title starring a Spider-female. Despite the numbers though, it is tied with Hellcat as my favorite Marvel book being published. Every so often, a comic book writer and artist click in a way that allows them to understand each other’s vision as well as the character they are bringing to life, and that’s exactly what happened when Dennis Hopeless and Javier Rodriguez took on Spider-Woman.
Since the relaunch, Jessica Drew has been very pregnant, and as we learned with the cliffhanger last month, she’s ready to pop. This is the transitional issue where we say good-bye to the Spider-Woman who struggles with being a pregnant superhero and hello to the Spider-Woman who’s a mom willing to do anything to protect her newborn. Spider-Woman #4 continues the same exciting Skrull plot established in issue #3 and provides a satisfying conclusion to Jessica’s pregnancy.
When Spider-Woman relaunched and our hero found herself in a hospital under attack by Skrulls, I could not imagine that a Skrull would end up as one of her biggest allies. However, the young prince Dirk was introduced last issue and he quickly proves throughout this issue that anyone is capable of anything. He’s sickly, but he’s also a smart kid who has been stuck in a hospital for months. Since he spent his time before this invasion exploring and finding all of the hospital’s nooks and crannies, he turns out to be the asset that Jessica needs once she goes into labor, while under attack. In the short time they know each other, they bond, and Jessica’s protective instincts over him foreshadow the type of mother she will be. Hopeless fashions supporting characters in a way where they all add something richer to the story, and Dirk is no exception.
While Dirk adds to some of the action and highlights Jess’ bonding capability with kids, Hopeless conjures some truly uplifting moments between Captain Marvel and Jessica. Captain Marvel has been apologizing to her friend since the moment she ended up stuck in this hospital, and once they are finally reunited, the depth of their friendship is shown. They are sarcastic and quip at one another, but at the end of the day, they care. Danvers may know that her friend is capable of handling herself, yet she doesn’t want to make her life any harder, and getting her stuck in a black hole hospital with a bunch of blood-thirsty Skrulls is the opposite of what Carol was aiming to do.
Still, these two women are realistic; though they know that they’ll always try and help each other out, they are also aware that they lead lives that won’t make raising a baby a simple affair. Jessica Drew is a superhero who is driven to help others, and that’s not going to completely change now that she is also a mom. If Dirk is around to help Jess and illustrate her mothering instincts, Captain Marvel is there to illustrate how a baby won’t change her.
By now, if you’ve read any of my Spider-Woman reviews, you know I’m a fan of Javier Rodriguez. To that token, I can’t help but praise him mercilessly again with issue #4. Most of the first half of the issue is spent avoiding the Skrulls and getting Jess to a safe place to give birth. Yet, after giving birth she can attack with full force, which results in panels showcasing swinging arms and falling Skrulls. One of the best spreads that Rodriguez has ever done for this series appears toward the end of the issue, once Jessica has had her baby and needs to ignore all her pain in order to stop the vengeful skrulls. She’s a machine intent on stopping the enemy and keeping them from both Dirk and her newborn. I had my reservations about how physical Jessica was toward the end of her pregnancy, but now that she’s had the baby and is back in full force, Rodriguez’s panels pop.
Although there are still questions left at the end of Spider-Woman #4, such as who fathered Jess’ baby, this issue is an exhilarating end to the pregnancy arc. There’s a little bit of everything a good superhero comic needs in #4– action, heartwarming moments, and comedy. One of Spider-Woman’s biggest strengths is that it’s different than any other superhero comic coming out right now. So, if you’re looking for excitement and a superhero with a phenomenal ensemble cast, this is the comic you should be adding to your pull list.