Review: ‘Spider-Man Noir #4’ Is Crushed Under Its Story’s Weight

by James Ferguson

Spider-Man finds himself double-crossed in the desert! Fortunately, he’s got a few friends nearby, including one in the sky ready to shoot down these Nazis. The quest to uncover the secrets of the cicada stone take them beneath the ruins of Babylon where untold terrors await.

This is a very Indiana Jones take on Spider-Man Noir, turning the character into a jet-setting adventurer delving into the mysteries of the world and beyond. It’s a nice fit, however it’s getting rather complicated. It’s tough to keep things straight as more MacGuffins are thrown into the mix. I don’t even know what they’re chasing anymore.
It’s almost like the characters realize how complicated the plot has gotten too. There’s a point where Electro, who starts to mutate into a hulking beast of electricity, literally shouts “Too much talking!” For all the adventuring, there’s a whole lot of chatter trying to explain what’s going on. Writer Margaret Stohl packs Spider-Man Noir #4 with some quirky, fast-paced dialogue, but it suffocates the action and excitement.

Artist Juan Ferreyra does the heavy lifting in this issue. His artwork is always a delight, delivering dynamic images that flow very well, almost to the point where they feel like they’re moving. He gets to stretch some horror muscles in this issue with Electro’s transformation, harkening back to his days on Colder (a personal favorite). The villain’s mouth is pulled back in a rictus grin that bulges out of his face in an unnatural manner.
The issue is in color, however it feels like black-and-white at parts, which works well with the character and the time period. It’s as if we’re watching an old movie. This makes the color really pop on the page, such as the red hair of one character or the crackling energy unleashed towards the end of the book.

This is where letterer Travis Lanham lets loose with dialogue that breaks free of the bounds of word balloons. It floats through the air like a haunting sound, foreshadowing the terror that awaits our hero and his allies.
While the artwork is superb, Spider-Man Noir is crushed under the weight of its story as it gets more and more complicated. It feels rudderless now, throwing out increasingly crazy ideas, hoping something will stick. Despite the action and excitement, it falls flat.
Spider-Man Noir #4 from Marvel Comics is currently available at your local comic shop and digitally through ComiXology and Amazon Kindle.

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