Jackals Of Two Worlds Descend On Gwen In Ghost-Spider #4

by James Ferguson

Gwen is getting the hang of her dual life, bouncing between two different earths. She’s a super hero back home on Earth-65 and a normal college student on Earth-616. In both, she’s still Gwen Stacy and the Jackal is obsessed with her, regardless of which dimension she calls home. We already knew that the Miles Warren of this world would stop at nothing to get her, but we’re seeing how the Jackal of her home dimension is developing a similar tendency. What is it about Gwen Stacy?

Ghost-Spider #4 gets pretty creepy as this old guy literally stalks a young woman. It’s rather uncomfortable at times, however this lands more on the side of a tense thriller than an exploitation story. Writer Seanan McGuire creates this balance where we see the rising danger of both Jackals while Gwen is completely unaware. Granted, her spider sense goes off every so often, but she doesn’t understand why yet.

While the OG Jackal definitely takes the crown for creepiest version, the one from Gwen’s dimension is more deadly. He has ties to the mob, particularly with Man-Wolf as they scheme together to not only allow the younger Jameson to stay in his transformed state longer, but to take down Ghost-Spider for good. Given the unique nature of her powers, there is a path to accomplish that goal. We see this play out in a rather chilling sequence. These two men will stop at nothing to murder this co-ed.

Ghost-Spider #4 is not all doom and gloom. Yes, the shadows can hang heavily, but there’s a lot of energy in here too. Gwen has such a sunny disposition, regardless of what comes her way. She’s juggling school work, hero time, home life, and band practice without going crazy. It’s rather admirable. There are some nice potentially romantic angles at work in this issue that rival the likes of Archie with the levels of squee-worthy relationship drama.

Artist Takeshi Miyazawa continues to be an absolute delight on Ghost-Spider. He seamlessly moves from Gwen as a bright, bubbly college student to an agile super hero. I love the transformation sequence, showing her symbiote swapping out her street clothes for her costume. The symbiote comes into play later on as Gwen stops a hostage situation at a hospital of all places. She needs to intimidate one of the bad guys so her hood splits up, framing her face in sharp teeth. I haven’t seen this done too often, so it feels special, like Gwen gets a little stressed and needs answers fast.

The fight choreography in this sequence is top notch, showing just how fast and powerful Ghost-Spider can be, even against a number of enemies. We haven’t seen the same battle twice as Gwen is constantly changing up her movements. She does try to rip a gun from someone’s hands that doesn’t go the way she thought it would, but she quickly adapts and changes tactics to take the guy down.

Inker Rosi Kampe highlights the speed of Gwen’s attacks with some nice line work while colorist Ian Herring makes the scene come alive with bright yellows, blues, and pinks. Gwen’s home dimension has its own color palette, distinguishing itself from 616. It’s brighter and more livelier. Frankly, it’s a little punk rock, which is perfect for our main character.

Rounding out the creative team is letterer Clayton Cowles who adds some perfectly placed sound effects to amplify every attack in this fight. There’s a great shot with Gwen on the ceiling, shooting webbing down at her attackers. The thwips line up with the gobs of webbing, giving them some added intensity and a bit of fun.

There’s a rising feeling of dread in Ghost-Spider as the Jackals move in for their attack. With how deftly Gwen has been juggling all the various aspects of her life lately, I’m sure she can handle it, but she’ll be caught off-guard whenever one (or both) of the villains makes their move. I’m curious how it will alter her growth as a person, expanding out and meeting other people once she’s burned by a couple folks she’s reached out to.

Ghost-Spider #4 from Marvel Comics is currently available at your local comic shop and digitally through ComiXology and Amazon Kindle.

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