Can Super heroes take the day off? Asking for a friend. You know what I’m just gonna go ahead and try.”
Writer: Robbie Thompson
Artist: Andre Lima Araujo
Color Artist: Rachelle Rosenberg
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Editors: Axel Alonso, Devin Lewis, & Nick Lowe
The Spidey comics took a two month long break but is this issue worth the wait? Read on to find out!
Spidey having protected New York City countless times decides to take some time off. The stress of fighting super-villains and the alienation he experiences as Spider-Man begins to take its toil on him. Peter visits an art museum that himself, Uncle Ben and Aunt May used to frequent. In the midst of enjoying the visit he notices someone steal a painting. Quickly changing into his Spidey outfit and promising to do this one job and going back to relaxing he confronts the thief.
The thief reveals himself to be the dictator of Latveria, Dr. Doom. Fighting ensues and it turns out that Spidey has really been fighting a Doombot. Spidey later founds out that Doombots have been spotted all over the city and that the Avengers have been confronting them.
Spidey manages to find Dr. Doom’s hideout in the city’s power plant. And after initially losing to a group of Doombots, he learns Doom’s objective and stops him. However, after cutting the Doombot’s power source it is revealed that Dr. Doom’s primary or true objective was to steal the painting which turns out to have been produced by a Latverian artist.
Pros: I have to say that I have enjoyed this issue much more than I have enjoyed prior issues. This issue in a way addressed many of the problems I had with earlier issues. The Spidey Comics followed a boring pattern: first shows Peter’s school life then Spidey has an inconsequential fight with a baddie, and finally Peter has a corny moment with Aunt May. This formula is not applied in this issue.
Furthermore, the other problem I had with former issues (which ties in with my first problem) was that every issue had a sort of moral of the day.
The way in which the moral of the day was executed I believed was overly simplistic and unoriginal. I also felt like the moral of the day approach watered down the ultimate Spidey of “With Great Power must also come great responsibility.”
This issue however, instead of watering down that ultimate Spidey lesson reinforces it. Uncle Ben’s words resonates throughout the story and dialogue of this issue.
Firstly, the story reinforces Uncle Ben’s words by showing the reader that the “responsibility” of being Spider-Man is a big responsibility. In being Spider-Man he has become alienated by everyone. The burden is overwhelming and Peter feels he must take a break from being Spidey.
The story further illustrates and reinforces Uncle Ben’s words when Peter’s day off is interrupted by a thief. Peter could simply ignore the thief and go along his way but he does not. I cannot help but think that the thief reminds Peter of the time he did not stop a certain thief in the past and it costed him everything. Of course Peter cannot go back in time and stop his Uncle from being killed but he can prevent future innocent people from meeting the same fate.
So this scene of Peter deciding to own up to his responsibility and stop the thief shows that he has matured a great deal and is truly living up to his Uncle’s legacy.
Another time that the Uncle Ben’s lesson is reinforced is through ironically Dr. Doom himself. Yes, Dr. Doom reinforces this Spider-Man trope! He reinforces it when he tells Spidey this: “There are no days off for people such as you and I. We both have incredible power…and we both know that those qualities …lead to a life of solitude. We both know what it’s like to truly be alone.”
Although this speech happens to be a ploy by Dr. Doom to distract Spidey it still does the trick of reinforcing Uncle Ben’s words albeit in a twisted fashion. This speech also serves as great characterization for Dr. Doom and sheds light on why he is the way that he is. Why he is a dictator, why he uses Doombots that resemble him and why he chooses to steal a Latverian painting from a museum.
He does all of these things because he feels he must do this things. That he alone can do the things that need to be done. His actions have put him at odds with other people and as a result he is alone. But he accepts his loneliness because he must fulfill his responsibility.
Doom’s speech point to another great positive of this issue and that is that we finally get a villain that is decently fleshed out. In this issue get a glimpse of Doom’s mannerism, motivation and emotions. The tactics he uses against Spidey are telling as well. It shows a villain that is confident in his intelligence and believes himself to be the best. This is shown by the fact that relies more on manipulating his opponents rather than relying on brute strength and also by the fact that he uses Doombots instead of hired men. He believes he is the only one capable of finishing the job.
This issue was well written, most of the writing felt natural and I did like how the story developed.
Cons: “I was stupid. I couldn’t see what I really had. Until it was too late” Peter says this in the recap page of the issue and it perfectly summarizes my feelings getting a new artist in this book. The change from Nick Bradshaw to Andre Lima Araujo is a bit jarring. Araujo is not a terrible artist but he is not a great one neither. There are moments in which the art is passable and other times when it is laughable. The depiction of most the Doombots is bland and the depiction of the Avengers and Fantastic four is terrible, in which the latter are depicted more or less like stick figures.
I believe it is a shame that the artwork for the most part is lacking because I found that the writing and story has improved (albeit steadily).
The second gripe I have with this issue are the quips in this issue. The quips in this issue fall flat every time. An example of a failed quip is when Spidey gives Dr. Doom the nickname Doomster. He gives him this nickname to make fun of the fact that Dr. Doom is wearing a hoodie and calls him a hipster. I suppose it makes sense combining hipster and Doom but it just is not funny. Another failed moment is when Spidey quips by saying “And you’re very…um… metallic, and green or something.” I understand that the writer wants to show Spidey/Peter to be awkward and the issue does a great job of that but the quips feel like the writer gave up on them.
The quips are unoriginal and most importantly not funny.
My third con is minor because I recognize that this comic book is far from being sophisticated but the solutions in this issue is overly convenient. I would have liked to see Spidey push his intellect and see his process. How does he find out where Dr. Doom is hiding and how does he come to his other conclusions. An annoying trope of the Spidey issues is once Spidey gets an aha moment he essentially wins. In other words whenever Spidey happens to look at something from another perspective he becomes able to miraculously find a solution and beat the villain. Much like the failed quips the convenient solutions feel like lazy writing.
Another minor gripe I had with this issue which can be seen as more of a nitpick is that Peter incorrectly tells the reader the reasoning behind why he does not defend himself against Flash. In this issue Peter says that his Uncle “was always against eye for an eye type justice” but in the issue immediately before this one he states that he does not want to lose his balance. As if defending myself would upset some natural order. To me it seems that the writer knows that he erred in the explanation and now wants to provide another explanation. Though a minor problem I did notice it and had to note it here.
Overall: All in all I did enjoy Spidey’s confrontation with Dr. Doom. With this issue the comic book has gone through some growth and has shed many of the problems I had with earlier issues. The theme of power and responsibility is elaborated on and the villain gets some decent characterization. I award Spidey #4 a grade of a