Review – The Spider King #4 (IDW Publishing)


Publisher: IDW Publishing
Writing: Josh Vann
Illustrations: Simone D’Armini
Colours: Adrian Bloch
Letters: Nic J Shaw
Release Date:7th March 2018

If you haven’t read issues 1 through 3 of this IDW Publishing series yet, stop whatever you’re doing and go do that instead…


Caught up? Good.

The Spider King #4 brings us the climatic conclusion to the saga of Hrolf and the eponymous Spider King. With the treasures of the gods (or alien tech if one is being pedantic), the surviving rag tag band assaults the drone soldiers of the Spider King at the impenetrable Lombard fortress before an epic showdown with the big bad Slarpax itself. (That’s not a sentence you read every day.) As one would now expect from this series there is oodles of action and humour with a finale that, whilst not entirely unexpected, is rewarding in its presentation. Without trying to spoil anything, there’s appreciated balance which rounds everything off just perfectly.

From the first panel of the first issue through to the last one here, The Spider King has been an absolute blast. Josh Vann has recounted a story here of which even the greatest skalds would be envious. Taking on two very different genres and mashing them together brings risks, although the bigger the risk the bigger the reward. It’s nonsense, it’s whimsy, and importantly it’s fun, but it’s also gripping and has some pretty dark, grisly ‘punch in the guts’ moments too. Ultimately this is a story of underdog heroes whose qualities shine through when it counts the most and, despite the subject matter, feels like a modern version of these great stories of our past.

Without repeating a previous review, it’s hard not to fall in love with the art of this series. D’Armini and Bloch really go all-out in this issue however, with an assault on the eyes that’s almost bewildering at times. The same attention to detail which has been exhibited throughout doesn’t let up here and the gore and action helps to bring the same unsettling yet wondrous appeal. Of particular note is a certain hand held device amongst the trinkets and artefacts strapped to Hrolf’s horse Sigmund on the cover art; a lovely little touch.

With the science fiction aspect of the story fully unleashed in this issue, Bloch lets rip with vibrant hues which really emphasise the merging of the tropes. This builds in crescendo-like fashion through to the delightful bad guy monologue towards the end. The shift in style is sudden but is skilfully presented to ensure that it isn’t jarring enough to throw you from your immersion. An earlier misgiving about personal tastes and almost too much going on is gone, replaced by the idea of just trying to hold on and enjoying the ride.

Let’s also not forget the lettering from Shaw. Seamless throughout, the added task of conveying alien language probably isn’t the easiest but in combination with D’Armini’s expressions, this brings more of the aforementioned visual humour.

So here then young ones, ends the tale of the Spider King. Or does it..?

Rating: 5/5.


The writer of this piece was: Adam Brown
Adam Tweets from @brother_rooster

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