Ultimate Spider-Man 4 Featured Reviews 

“Ultimate Spider-Man” #4

By | April 26th, 2024
Posted in Reviews | % Comments

One month after the reveal of the identity of the Green Goblin to Spider-Man and vice versa, see the initial fallout from their mutual knowledge!

Cover by Marco Checchetto
Written by Jonathan Hickman
Illustrated by David Messina
Colored by Matthew Wilson
Lettered by Cory Petit


• Peter Parker’s secret life starts fraying the edges of his personal life!

• J. Jonah Jameson and Ben Parker’s pursuit of truth – or, at least, the news – stirs unrest with the world at large…

• And now that Spider-Man may not have to operate alone, the real work of rebuilding this corrupt world can begin!

With the new Ultimate universe of Earth-6160, Jonathan Hickman truly turned the world on its head. Nothing is the same anymore, with relationships shaken up or outright gone depending on myriad factors that created or rejected the creation of different heroes. Even so, some elements must remain constant, some figures are bound to show up in altered states. As such, with a more mature Peter Parker, we have a more mature approach to a story, one that takes a very different tack from what one might expect of the first arc of a superhero plot. With the reveal of the true identity of the Green Goblin in the previous issue, how does Hickman move this story forward alongside guest artist David Messina while keeping things exciting?

First, let us clear the air about a possible detracting factor: “Ultimate Spider-Man” #4 is not a Spider-Man story, in that it does not feature anyone in their armors or costumes. Rather, Hickman instead takes a break from the action, explosions, and web-slinging to allow readers time to see an extended examination of Peter Parker, particularly how his small-scale approach to being Spider-Man is distinct from his foil (but as of yet not enemy) the Green Goblin. None of this is a bad thing, nor does it seem like the comic is decompressed, unlike the original “Ultimate Spider-Man” run from Earth-1610 in 2001. Instead, in keeping with how each issue takes place a month from the prior one (incidentally each being in the same month as the issue release thus far), it feels like the story is just starting slower due to the realistic issues of Peter pressing his burgeoning heroics against his 20 extra years of being powerless on account of the Maker’s machinations, along with the fact that the entire world is essentially built to push down heroes in the first place. Beyond those reasons, he also has increased focus on his maturity, especially his time as a family man with a job he needs to help support his wife and children (alongside said wife’s own work as a public relations consultant), which he needs to balance against learning how to be a high-flying, acrobatic superhero starting at the age of 35, rather than 15.

The vast majority of “Ultimate Spider-Man” #4 takes place over a dinner double date between Peter Parker, the Green Goblin’s civilian identity (hereafter just called Osborn for clarity’s sake to avoid spoiling the prior issue), and their wives. During said dinner, a lot comes to light regarding the differences between the Watson-Parker and Osborn households, but Hickman never outright says who is right or wrong. While the issues are more veiled around the women, they are more blatant when the vigilantes are able to speak amongst themselves. Among other things, there is a difference in presumed scope, their actual abilities (this version of the Goblin not having any powers or serum), and openness about their vigilante endeavors with those they love, even setting aside the clear wealth gap between Oscorp’s billions and the Parker family’s rather modest income. All in all, despite being effectively just a conversation over dinner, Hickman manages to pull it off so well that it is as riveting, as exhilarating, as a fight scene, if not more so due to the careful use of tension, dialogue, and pacing.

The rest of the story has Hickman put J. Jonah Jameson and Ben Parker at the latter’s household with his great-niece and great-nephew. Much lower stakes, this small part of the story is rather amusing, primarily through Jameson’s griping about their new business venture and its ironic name. More than that, the parts at the Parker household helps to showcase the relationship Peter’s children May and Richard have with their (great-)Uncle Ben as well as his business partner and friend (whose behavior around kids leaves much to be desired).

Continued below

Guest artist David Messina’s style fits very well with that of more common illustrator (and cover artist) Marco Checchetto, to the point that the main way to even tell them apart is by putting them side by side. In general, Messina does a great job of showing emotional depth, perhaps with more focus than others, adding to the quiet, intense moments with the Osborns as much as with the more laid back ones with Jameson and the Parkers. More directly, Messina seems to utilize thicker lines, especially around the outline of individual characters, making them stand out against the background. The line work makes these characters feel almost larger than life, especially the four at the dinner date.

Meanwhile, it is likely Matthew Wilson’s colors, as vibrant as ever, that really make the art style come together so seamlessly from the preceding three issues. In particular; the palettes of each scene help set their mood. The warm lights of the restaurant come across as unsettling and somewhat intrusive, much like the apparently well-meaning Osborns are to the Parkers. On the other hand, the Parker household has cooler tones, making things seem much more relaxed, a reprieve from the “scary” nature of the billionaires to the protagonists. Altogether, the effect really helps show how unnerved Peter and Mary Jane are without making them out to seem to scared outright.

Final Verdict: 7.5– Even with a slower issue, “Ultimate Spider-Man” is still going strong in developing its new take on the Spider-Man cast.

Gregory Ellner

Greg Ellner hails from New York City. He can be found on Twitter as @GregoryEllner or over on his Tumblr.