I think that Peter David has really gotten Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man headed in the right direction after a couple of average issues in the beginning. I am enjoying this title and I’m interested to see where David is heading with this current storyline with the Uncle Ben from a different reality. Let’s check out the review of Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #9
Writer: Peter David
Penciler: Mike Wieringo
Inker: Mike Manley
Art Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: The issue starts in an alternative universe. The world has gone through some sort of apocalyptic event. We see that everyone is now living underground. We head over to Empire State University where two Professors, Robin and Lar are having a discussion. Robin explains that there are many different universes and they it is possible that they may intersect with each other in big ways. That Robin has been studying the past 200 years and have found, what she believes, are intersecting points and she has been charting their impact on their timeline. She thinks that they are increasing. That one of those “bigger” universes may eventually swallow their entire reality whole. Maybe even obliterate, unless they can prevent it. Lar says this sounds like time travel which is more up Robin’s father’s field of expertise. Robin says she is not talking about time travel. She is talking about the multiverse. (Oh man. David is going to be taking some shots at DC! This should be entertaining.)
Lar and Robin then get close and flirty and start smooching. Suddenly, this universe’s Spider-Man appears. He tells his daughter, Robin, that she must come with him. That he has evidence that in the future that Robin will conduct unauthorized parallel world travel, chronal disruption and murder. That she is building a suit that will allow her to jump universes and rework the universe in her image. Spider-Man says that Robin must be arrested and “zoned” for thirty years until the window of temporal opportunity has closed. Robin tells Lar that everything her father is saying is true. That this is more important than their life together. Robin then makes a run for it. Spider-Man webs her up and arrests her. Robin yells that Peter Parker would be ashamed of her father and that she hates him.
We then cut to Robin lying in a beautiful field of grass out in the country. She is very happy and says how much she loves her glorious world. She then walks over to her country house and sees Lar standing in her doorway. Robin says that nobody has ever been at her house before. Robin doesn’t recognize Lar. Lar tells Robin that none of this around her is real. That her body is in stasis and this entire world and her memories are being fed to her by a computer. Lar says that he is getting her out of here. That it has taken him years, but he is finally hacked into the zone and inserted a nanovirus to pull her, and possibly some other people, back into the real world.
Robin’s world begins to melt away and we see her bust out of her stasis tube. The guards arrive at her tube and tell her to not move. Robin’s eyes glow with some newfound power. She says that she only wanted to make her father proud. Robin is then joined by some other inmates who have also escaped from their stasis tubes. Their eyes are also glowing with the same newfound power. Robin and the other inmates then take out all of the guards.
We cut to this alternate universe Spider-Man questions Lar where Robin has gone. Spider-Man says that Lar’s virus that he put into the computer drove the inmates insane and unleashed staggering levels of physical ability and kicked their metabolism into overdrive. Lar says he did what he did because he loves Robin. Suddenly, Robin appears wearing a modified version of the Green Goblin outfit. She throws a grenade at Spider-Man and misses. Instead the grenade hits Lar. But, after it explodes, Lar is still there unharmed. Then, suddenly, Lar disappears. Spider-Man asks Robin what she has done. Robin says that she calls them her “retcon bombs.” (Hilarious!!) That the retcon bombs create a retroactive dimensional warp and catapults its target out of existence. Lar not only doesn’t exist now…he never did exist. (Oh, man, this is great! David is letting loose the shots on DC).
Robin then introduces herself as latest version of the Hobgoblin. Hobgoblin admits that her retcon bombs are hard to make, but that there’s lots of ways to much with the multiverse while she is prepping to make more of them. (Oh this is just too funny. You go David!). Spider-Man lunges for Hobgoblin, but she teleports away.
We cut to Spider-Man back with the Timespinners at their HQ. They track down Hobgoblin in 2006 facing off against our Spider-Man. Also, Hobgoblin has derailed an alternate Ben Parker. They then look at the Spider-Man from that track 20 years later after his Ben Parker was taken by Hobgoblin. We see a mutated Spider monster in a Spider-Man outfit standing on top of the bodies of defeated Avengers and X-Men. The alternate Spider-Man tells the Timespinners to send him to 2006 so they can fix this mess.
We then cut to our Earth where our Spider-Man tells Hobgoblin that that he remembers him from when time went nuts and he met the Spider-Man from 2099. Hobgoblin says that she has given Spider-Man what he has always desired: Uncle Ben. Not a ghost. The real deal. Hobgoblin then takes control of Spider-Man’s armored costume and makes him punch himself silly. Hobgoblin then takes off with a dazed Spider-Man her captive and leaves Uncle Ben behind “to get acquainted with you-know-who.”
Uncle Ben turns around and sees a stunned Aunt May looking at him. They stare at each other in silence and then Ben says “Well. This is awkward.” End of issue.
The Good: This was a very entertaining issue! I loved the intro scene with Robin and Lar talking about the existence of a multiverse and that one of the universes is threatening their universe. This scene set the stage for plenty of more criticisms of DC’s destroying the multiverse and massive amounts of retcons. You just knew with the recent Infinite Crisis, that David would not be able to keep himself from making some type of commentary about what is going on over in DC.
The scene where Robin assumes the identity of the new Hobgoblin and unleashes her retcon bombs was absolutely priceless. I also loved the comment from Hobgoblin about how there are “lots of ways to muck up the multiverse.” David just unleashes a few more jabs on DC. I have never been a fan of any retcons. I find them to be very unsatisfying and exist only to be a crutch to weak writers. I also never thought that the Crisis on Infinite Earths was a good idea. I think that was the biggest mistake of DC. The multiverse is the simplest and easiest tool for any and all continuity problems. Ones that have been plaguing DC ever since the first Crisis. And even when DC is not retconning everything that moves, they still, as Hobgoblin said, find many other ways to muck up the multiverse. David has a razor sharp wit and has never been shy about speaking his mind about the world of comics. And I have always loved that about David. The retcon bombs had me laughing out loud. This scene was a very well written and an appropriate critique of DC’s rampant retcons.
The ending with Uncle Ben face to face with Aunt May was great. I cannot wait to see what happens between the two of them in the next issue. Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #9 was a great issue. David is a talented writer who can weave a very entertaining story. David also excels at writing very strong and funny dialogue. This issue was no exception. Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #9 was enjoyable to read and moved at a perfect pace. David really has this title rolling in the right direction. I am definitely looking forward to the next issue to learn more about this retcon bomb toting Hobgoblin and to see Ben and May’s reunion.
Ok, I have now read that David has said that he was not commenting on DC and their handling of the multiverse or their retcons. David said he was simply building off of Slott’s older 2099 issues and that is where the retcon bomb first appeared. Evidently, I just read too much into this title. I still think that the retcon bomb was a poke at DC back when it was first invented.
The Bad: I have no complaints at all with the writing. However, the artwork is less than impressive. I find Wieringo’s art to be below average. It is sloppy and lacks detail. The art does nothing to make this comic book a more enjoyable read. This artwork makes the comic look boring. Luckily, David is a strong enough writer that he does not need nice artwork to help him carry a comic book.
Overall: David did a great job delivering an entertaining story, with strong dialogue and good pacing. Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #9 was a well done issue. If only they could get a new artist on this title and then I’d have no complaints.