Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #1 // Review
It’s hard to argue that Spider-Man isn’t Marvel’s biggest property of all time. Multiple successful movies span almost two decades, including the ridiculously successful Into the Spider-Verse. Comics have been constantly high sellers since the 1960s, and it’s rare to find a kid these days who doesn’t know who the wall-crawler from the House of Ideas is. So, of course, Marvel would take the opportunity to launch a new comic series now that there’s a chance to snag new readers.
That comic is Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man, the second time Marvel has launched a comic with that title. This time, writer Tom Taylor helms the title. With him are artist Juann Cabal, color artist Nolan Woodard, and letterer Travis Lanham. With this crew, Spider-Man opens a new tale, called Mother of Exiles. As a bonus, there’s a backup story that doesn’t have a title. That one is written by Tom Taylor and penciled by Marcelo Ferreira. Inks are provided by Roberto Poggi, and Jim Campbell colors the pages. Finally, Travis Lanham comes back to letter the pages for that backup.
Things are mostly uneventful for Spider-Man. Helping the homeless, saving a father and daughter from their falling moving van, and he’s being guilted into helping out his landlady. Things get a little strange when said landlady asks Peter to check up on the tenant in apartment 72, a young gal named Leilani. What follows is a truly strange and bizarre opening to a tale that is easily going to take Spidey out of his comfort zone.
The backup tale, on the other hand, is a truly remarkable piece of character work. The story is split between an errand Aunt May has to run, while we see a day in the life of Spider-Man. From befriending a local child, to eating a romantic breakfast with Mary Jane atop one of the skyscrapers of New York. However, the Aunt May plot winds up being a lot more serious than it initially implies, and the twist should be read rather than spoiled.
Tom Taylor has some great ideas to that work for Spidey. He seems to have both the heroic and civilian sides of Peter down perfectly, and the issue was a delight to read on many levels. One of the best scenes easily comes from the backup story’s date with Peter and MJ. The dialogue is delightful, and brings back a lot of memories of the best moments of Peter and Mary Jane’s relationship. Tom weaves up a few subplots in both stories that could easily work for an entire run, and sets up several new characters in the first story who are pretty interesting. It’s an excellent first issue, and really shows a lot of promise.
The art in both the main story and backup are nothing short of excellent. Juann Cabal has some excellent sense of motion, and his choreography for Spidey is just wonderful. However, the two-page splash introducing Spider-Man to the reader through both showing off Spidey in full for the first time in the book, and also through reflections of actual events and people from his past in the skyscrapers around him is honestly something that belongs on a poster. Facial expressions are also a delight in the main story, with Peter feeling like a put-upon actual person trying his best to fake his way through life. Meanwhile, Marcelo Ferreira has an excellent mastery of body language, from the comfortable flirting seen between MJ and Pete to Aunt May’s complex emotions, it really almost feels like the backup story could pass as one of Marvel’s “Nuff Said” issues from the 90s.
In short, this is a wonderful opening story for a new Spider-Man book. Continuity demands are light, and both the main story and backup story that can easily go places. Fans looking to pick up a new comic should check this one out if they’ve liked Spidey in the past. Super-fans? It’s a safe bet you’ve already gotten this one.