Comic Book Review: Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #6

This is a title that is on the Revolution’s Probation List. If it doesn’t get going, it gets dropped. Even though we dig Peter David, the title still has to deliver the goods for us to keep spending our limited funds on it. Oh yeah, on a side note, the picture of this issue on Marvel.com is different from the actual cover. He is wearing his new ugly “Iron-Spider” outfit on the actual cover.

Creative Team
Writer: Peter David
Penciler: Roger Cruz
Inkers: Oclair Albert & Victor Olazaba

Rating: 4 Night Girls out of 5.

Synopsis: Spider-Man #6 starts with Spidey wrestling a Luchador named El Muerte. For you gringos out there, “Luchador” means “fighter” and a Luchador is a masked fighter common in Mexican wrestling. El Muerte means “the Dead.”

Back to the story, after watching Spider-Man wrestling El Muerte, we flashback to J. Jonah Jameson and his son tied up by a couple of home invaders with one of them about to kill JJ. JJ tells his son to please save him and that he knows that he is Spider-Man. JJ’s son says he isn’t Spider-Man. At that point, El Muerte crashes through the window, kicks butt on the bad guys and frees JJ and his son. El Muerte tells JJ that he has been watching him because he needs a favor from JJ. We know that El Muerte has super strength and agility.

We then cut to the wrestling match. We find out that the favor El Muerte needed from JJ was setting up this charity match between El Muerte and Spider-Man.

We then cut to PS 108, where Peter Parker works. Peter is talking to some jock bully who gave a bloody nose to some science nerd. The jock said his coach told him to get his mind ready for the game and to manhandle anyone in his way. Peter says he is going to talk to this new coach when suddenly the new coach appears and it is none other than Flash Thompson! Flash is out of his coma, but he has no memory of his recent past including that he and Peter were good friends. Instead, this Flash is like he was back in High School. Flash doesn’t even know that Peter is married to Mary Jane. Flash busts on Peter like he used to in High School.

We cut back to the wrestling match where El Muerte has a flashback to when he was younger and he is with his dad who was then El Muerte complete with the family mask. All the men of his family are El Muerte and they pass down the mask. A cloaked figure approaches the two of them and says it is time for the son, Juan Carlos, to fight to prove he is worthy of the mask of El Muerte.

Evidently, the men in the family must fight to keep the mask of El Muerte and all of its powers. Well, Juan Carlos is too afraid to fight and wants out of this whole deal. The cloaked figure then says that Juan Carlos must die since he has failed. The father then attacks the cloaked figure to protect his son. The cloaked figure rips off the father’s head and tells Juan Carlos that he has ten years to train, to travel and to find his bravery. Then Juan Carlos must fight a masked hero and humiliate and unmask him in public. Hence the fight with Spider-Man.

We cut back to the fight where Spider-Man finally figures out that “Mascara contra Mascara” means if he loses then he is unmasked. He freaks out and unintentionally stabs El Muerte with one of his new stingers. El Muerte collapses unconscious. Spider-Man says his action was involuntary. JJ says Spidey cheated. Then we end with the cloaked figure in the rafters of the arena saying it is time to collect El Muerte’s mask and his life!

Comments: I liked this issue. This one is the best issue so far in this series. If this title continues on this path then it may just be taken off the dreaded Probation List. As always, Peter David delivers a good story with great dialogue. Now, I know the Revolution may take some heat from this, but I loved El Muerte. Is he a bit of a stereotypical minority hero? Well, yeah, but, El Muerte is done with taste! He isn’t offensively stereotypical. Luchadors are huge in Mexico. They are Mexico’s superheroes the way Spider-Man is to Americans. So, I don’t think this character falls into the Black Lightning and Black Goliath category of unacceptable and incredibly lame stereotypical minority heroes.

I like wrestling, I like luchadors and this issue with the mix of super-powers and wrestling reminded me a lot of my favorite mangas, Kinnikuman, and Ultimate Muscle! So, maybe the Revolution is a little biased when it comes to this issue. At any rate, the story was well-paced and entertaining. As always, Peter David’s dialogue was great.

I think the wrestling storyline is perfect for Spider-Man since his roots are in pro wrestling. When Peter first got his powers, the first thing he did was enter into pro wrestling. There is plenty of mystery with the cloaked figure and plenty of good action. I think El Muerte is a character that has some solid potential.

I also love the addition of Flash Thompson to the school staff. And making Flash lose all of his later memories and act as he did in High School was a cool twist. It should really spice up the scenes of Peter at his job which, until now, were a bit on the boring side.

The art is average. Nothing horrible, but nothing great. It definitely is not one of the reasons to buy this title.