Artist Nick Bradshaw drew the cover for Spidey #4, but the interiors are drawn by Andre Lima Araújo, with colors by Rachelle Rosenberg. The transition isn’t as jarring as the once-infamous Doom Patrol transition from Steve Lightle to Erik Larson, but the two artists’ styles are remarkably different.
Bradshaw filled his panels with intricate details, but Araújo crafts his panels with considerable amounts of open space, which Rosenberg treats with patterns, shades and even flat colors. This puts heavy emphasis on the characters, which Araújo handles with grace and fluidity. His choices for line thickness and character physique put him on a parallel with Steve Ditko, which is a smart match for this series. The more open panels tend to leave room for readers to wander, but at the same time, they also transmit a sense of scope.
Hopefully, as he continues on with Spidey, Araújo will find a way to provide greater detail to the settings on a more consistent basis, or even tighten up the framing on some panels so figures don’t seem so far away throughout the issue. Truly, Araújo does a great job telling the story visually, his style is just such a departure from Bradshaw‘s that is cannot be anything but noticeable and even distracting.
Writer Robbie Thompson remains the constant in this series, and his take on Peter Parker is entertaining and relatable. Spider-Man spends as much time scolding himself as he does throwing puns at his foes. It fits this era for the webslinger’s adventures, and makes Spidey’s successes all the more worthy of celebration when they do occur. Thompson balances the internal and external conversations throughout Spidey #4, giving readers more than enough substance to learn about Spider-Man, his guest stars in this issue and the attitude the webslinger brings to his escapades.
One bit that is especially funny is how Spidey (and Thompson through the webslinger) vents some frustration regarding the presentation of Spidey’s name. Anyone who has ever corrected (or even briefly thought about correcting) someone for spelling “Spider-Man” wrong is going to get a kick out of that bit.
The issue takes a few pages before shifting into gear, wherein Doctor Doom is revealed as the villain of the issue (in case you couldn’t gather as much from the cover). And where Doom goes, so goes trouble. Thompson provides plenty of strong moments between Doom and Spidey with snappy dialog to underscore the difference between the characters. Surprisingly, however, Thompson also finds a way to present the characters as being similar, which gives Spider-Man (and the readers) quite a bit to think about.
Spidey #4 keeps the notion of done-in-one, approachable adventures alive, and even has the fun bit with a cameo from another foe of Spidey’s in addition to the big bad of the actual issue. Thompson and Araújo give readers a fun story in the spirit of Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. Rosenberg and letterer Travis Lanham add the finishing touches. It’s not as action-packed or detail-filled as the previous three issues of Spidey, but it is, nonetheless, an enjoyable read with a youthful, continuity-lite Spider-Man in the spotlight.