Comic Book Review: Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #1


I’m not going to lie, aside from Superior Spider-Man, it has been a long while since I felt ready and willing to pick up a Spider-Man book. They weren’t bad, but I never felt the hook personally. When you are a reader who loves the kind of heroes who keep their ears to the ground, this book is instantly one right up your alley. Spidey is fun and all, but new directions make a world of a difference. This right here is a fresh direction to take when Spider-Man’s (and Peter Parker’s) neighborhood and neighbors matter.

I know some readers out there may look at this book and wonder why we are going back to square one (somewhat). It’s a valid question, but when you look at this from the perspective that this creative team has taken? You can’t help but appreciate the idea that we could go back to the early days where there is an opportunity to fall in love with a younger Peter Parker all over again. From the start of this first issue we were all welcomed back into his world with an understanding of what Spider-Man is, and what makes him tick. Even when a hero is well-established, there is always room to remind fans of their mission statement. Small things like that can get lost over time. Especially when you are passing their story over from one writer to the next. In the case of Tom Taylor for Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man? You couldn’t have asked for a better writer who knows how to approach superheroes with the focus of what it means to be a hero. After the way he reinvented Jean Grey in X-Men: Red, I wanted to see how he could produce the same results for Spidey.

With the core concept for this book, little time was wasted jumping into the way that Peter engaged with his community and neighborhood. Exactly what you want to see if you were someone skeptical that anyone would be truly willing to put the locals before everything else. This kind of storytelling I tend to connect with more than anything else. Saving the world or working with the Avengers is great. However, that should never lead to neglecting the very people who make up that world you are trying to save. With that said, the right neighbors were also found for Peter to have interactions with. People who are new to the area, people who have wisdom to impart in him.

The trouble that he rain into for this first issue was satisfying as a start. While Peter tends to bring his own brand of trouble around with him, it shakes things up when the problem can also be because of other people. Their problems become his. Especially when that leads to some out of the ordinary gifts dropped at his door.

The art team of Juann Cabal and Nolan Woodard did indeed give us the most local Spider-Man ever. It was one thing to say that this Spidey would be more interactive with the neighborhood he protects, but it was another thing to see that through visuals. Juann Cabal did an excellent job of not only showing us more of Peter Parker, but the world around him. This was one of those times where the setting matters. Cabal and Woodard gave us a full rendering of Peter’s neighborhood from the building tops, to the streets, to his apartment complex. Everything was in detail from top to bottom which added to the overall engagement. What I also enjoyed about the artwork was the focus on the people. Everyone was fairly diverse between gender, age, and style of living. More than that, these characters were expressive which made it easy to connect with what a day is like in their shoes. Peter’s reactions and responses to everyone around him sold every moment as well since just being a part of these people’s lives is like a secondary job. Nolan Woodard was a name I was happy to see as the colorist. He has such a bold and lively set of colors that was fitting for the atmosphere of this story. Not to mention his colors have depth too. During key moments, he knew the right shades, lighting, and effects to use to set a mood.

Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #1 is that kind of book that you would recommend to readers who want superhero stories where the importance of the hero is what’s behind the mask. Fixing damages, carrying your groceries, or just being a friendly neighbor matters. This creative team gets that, and I can’t wait to see more of what this Spidey has to offer the people who surround him.

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