RADIOACTIVE SPIDER-GWEN #4
Writer: Jason Latour
Artist: Robbi Rodriguez
Colourist: Rico Renzi
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Clowes
Editor: Nick Lowe
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Previously in Radioactive Spider-Gwen #3: Still reeling from the events of Spider-Verse, Gwen Stacy decides to pay a visit to Jessica Drew, A.K.A. Spider-Woman! Gwen learns about her Earth-616 counterpart, and sees that the lesson that with great power, there must also come great responsibility applies in any reality.
One of the coolest things about Radioactive Spider-Gwen, and basically the entire conceit of the character, is that it gets to play with the classic Spider-Man constructs and present them to the audience in a new and exciting way. Writer Jason Latour has really leaned into this idea in the pages of Radioactive Spider-Gwen #4. This issue is a whirlwind and is probably my favourite issue of Spider-Gwen’s adventures so far. It’s wonderful to see that her character has remained in tact and largely untouched by the mess of an even that Secret Wars has turned out to be.
As it says in Spider-Gwen #4‘s solicitation the Green Goblin shows us. In this universe he is Harry Osborn, completing the Peter/Gwen/Harry triumvirate, albeit in an admittedly darker way. Latour has this Goblin fall into the same hole that his paternal counterpart does in the 616 universe – kill Spider-Man at all costs – but with, admittedly, purer intentions. Of course, this brings up the eternal question of ends justifying means when Harry swallows a vile of [spoiler]liquid that will change him forever in order to take down Spider-Gwen and avenge the death of Peter Parker.
Radioactive Spider-Gwen #4 allows readers one of the longest looks back into the past at the characters of Harry, Peter and Gwen and the nature of their relationship in a scene that is reminiscent of Spider-Man: Blue in all the right ways. The trio is playing Dungeons & Dragons (awesomely!), and one really gets the sense of how hard this universe’s Peter Parker was seeking to please his friends making it not too much of a hop, skip and a jump away to understand why Latour had this Peter Parker end the way that he did.
Aside from the immediate conflict between the Green Goblin and Spider-Woman, Latour drops goblin cameos throughout Radioactive Spider-Gwen #4 including during the aforementioned games of D&D. It is a very interesting move on his part to plant the seeds of Spider-Woman and many of her villains in her pre-radioactive spider bite. Of course, when theses characters were first being created there was not always a precedent for explaining, but in this contemporary world and with the unique take that Latour has taken with this book it’s fun to see the embedded inspiration.
Radioactive Spider-Gwen #4 is a lengthy action scene between Spider-Woman and the Green Goblin that culminates in a familiar scene across the history of superheroes with thoughtful nods to the characters and the publisher’s pasts.
BEAUTIFUL AND BRIGHT
Robbi Rodriguez does amazing things with motion. This is an exceptional quality for an artist working on a spider title to have. As mentioned above, Radioactive Spider-Gwen #4 features a combat scene of some length and Rodriguez keeps the visuals fresh and matching writer Jason Latour’s quippy dialogue (did I forget to mention that the Fresh Prince of Bel Air theme song makes an appearance?). Gwen and Harry the Green Goblin swing through the panels across the expanse of the page lending a real sense of momentum and kinetic energy to the storytelling.
Another fun thing that Rodriguez does in Radioactive Spider-Gwen #4 is thoughtful design work on the Green Goblin that so much has been made of thus far in this review. Harry himself has a classic Green Goblin look and one of the way that Rodriguez makes him visually distinct (besides relying on colourist Rico Renzi to have him be the sole person to occupy a panel in verdant tones), is having his robot lackeys all wear Hobgoblin costumes. It’s a thoughtful way to fold in the variety of goblin villains that the Spider-Man line has given birth to and mirror what Latour did in the writing – present visuals readers are familiar with while showing it in a different light.
Renzi’s colours really do shape the style of Radioactive Spider-Gwen #4. The issue is so bright and beautiful that by dashing his colour over Rodriguez’s art makes the story ready to jump off the page!
THE BOTTOM LINE: READ IT
Radioactive Spider-Gwen #4 is both fun and thoughtful. The creative team is firing on full cylinders and the reading experience benefits from it. Gwen is cool as all get out and she looks at a familiar world for us through very distinct eyes. Definitely worth picking up and reading.