Spider-Man has been Marvel’s most popular character since being created. With that popularity has come many ongoing and mini-series starring Spider-Man. 2019 is no different as we have a number of Spider-Man comics, both ongoing and mini-series, at the moment. The difference in 2019 is that those Spider-Man titles don’t all star Peter Parker. The Spider-Man family has expanded to include Miles Morales and Gwen Stacy. But as popular as those characters are Peter Parker is still the most well-known and popular version of Spider-Man.
To that point Marvel has decided to relaunch Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man with Tom Taylor and Juann Cabal taking over. Taylor has delivered big with his recent runs on Injustice and All-New Wolverine, the latter of which Cabal was a collaborator on. Now let’s see if what Taylor and Cabal do with Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #1.
Writer: Tom Taylor
Artist: Juann Cabal (Mother Of Exiles Main Story); Marcelo Ferreira (Back-Up Story)
Inker: Roberto Poggi (Back-Up Story)
Colorist: Nolan Woodard (Mother Of Exiles Main Story); Jim Campbell (Back-Up Story)
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: While swinging to through the city Spider-Man spots a van about to fall off a bridge. Spider-Man quickly works to save a guy and kid stuck inside the van. He is successful and gets them to safety before the van falls off the bridge.
The guy tries to pay Spider-Man for his help but Spider-Man says he can’t accept the money. Spider-Man tells the guy that he can give the money to some people in need and they will call things even if he does.
A little later Peter helps his neighbor Marnie, who does not trust elevators after a person she loved died in one, take her groceries up the stairs to her place. Marnie asks Peter to give another one of their neighbors some food as the woman has locked herself up in her apartment out of fear. Peter agrees when Marnie says she has to go out again for a social event.
Peter goes to the apartment and meets Leilani, the woman who has locked herself in her place. Leilani asks if he knows if Spider-Man can introduce her to other heroes to help her as she is having trouble with well-connected people. Peter offers to talk over lunch but Leilani is to afraid to go. Peter then says he will bring Leilani something to eat and they can discuss how he can help in her apartment. Leilani agrees to the deal.
Outside Peter runs into the homeless people he recommend to the guy he saved as Spider-Man to give money too. The three of them know Peter helped them with how he never judges them when he walks past them and offer him a hotdog as thanks. Peter enjoys eating a hotdog with them and talks to them for a little while.
Peter eventually goes back to his place. When he gets there he notices some odd cars and rushes up to check on Leilani.
When he gets to Leilani’s place he finds her surrounded by mysterious men. Peter’s spider-sense goes off. As he attempts to dodge a punch everything goes dark.
A little while later Peter is suddenly woken up by his roommate Randy Robertson and Marnie. He sees that somehow he was driven through a wall and his face is completely bruised.
Peter asks Randy to stay with Marnie to wait for the cops to arrive to go over Leilani’s disappearance while he goes to recover in their apartment.
As he goes back to his apartment Peter remembers his other roommate is Boomerang, who he finds in his underwear playing video games in their living room.
Peter walks to his room and locks himself in. Boomerang tells Peter that Leilani came by earlier to tell him to not worry about launch and left her laundry because he said he do it for her.
As he changes into his Spider-Man costume Peter thinks it is odd Leilani left him her laundry. He checks the Leilani’s laundry basket and is stunned to find a boy and girl with orange skin and white hair inside. End of main story.
At some other point Peter takes MJ on a special date, in which he gives her a spare costume so they can swing up to the Empire State Building as Spider-Man and Spider-Woman.
The next morning Peter goes to check on his Aunt May. Aunt May rushes off as she has to go to an appointment much to Peter’s suspicion.
As Spider-Man, Peter follows his Aunt May to see what she is keeping secret from him. He suddenly spots a kid getting bullied and swings in to save him. Spider-Man reminds then makes sure the kid gets in safely into his school bus.
Elsewhere Aunt May walks past a press conference Mayor Wilson Fisk is holding about improving McCarthy Medical Institute. As she does so Aunt May speaks her mind on how she see Mayor Fisk as a thug.
Inside the hospital Aunt May goes to her doctor’s appointment. While waiting for her doctor Aunt May writes a letter to Peter about her situation. In writing her letter she reveals she recently found a lump and is getting treatment for cancer. She ends up tearing apart the letter and breaks down while waiting for her doctor. End of back-up story.
The Good: If Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #1 is to be judge by just its main story it was a solid opening chapter to Tom Taylor’s run on this series. What takes Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #1 to that next level as a great comic book. It is one of those rare instances in which the back-up story was better than the main story of a comic book.
What made Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #1 a fun comic from beginning to end was how Taylor captured the voice for this comic book. Every character, from Peter Parker to Aunt May to Peter’s neighbors, all came across as genuine. There was a sense that this was a living, breathing world even though it was contained to a few city blocks.
Containing the story within this corner of New York made good use of the name of the series. This also highlighted one of the important aspects of Spider-Man as a hero who spends as much time protecting his New York City as he does saving the world with the Avengers and other Marvel heroes. It’s also a reminder that even when not wearing the mask Peter is a good dude trying to live an honest life as best he can. It is something that can be forgotten when usually we see writers focus on Peter’s “Parker Luck.” So this spotlight was a nice change of pace from what other Spider-Man comics normally explore.
The opening of Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #1 sets the tone for all of this. From Spider-Man’s interaction with the family he saves to Peter’s interaction with his neighbors and people in need it all shows that this series will be sure to focus on both parts of the character’s life equally. As a first issue it is a good message for Taylor to send that builds confidence with Spider-Man fans.
Through all of these interactions Taylor is able to show how Peter’s life has a lot of different types of people in his life. Each supporting character has there own voice and brings out a different tone to how Peter talks to them. An example of that is how Peter’s interaction with Boomerang showed how frustrated he is with having to have a roommate like him. It is something that we can all relate to when it comes to having a annoying roommate, even when that person is a super villain part is an unbelievable thing to happen for someone.
These interactions also showed that even when being Spider-Man that Peter is still going to do his best to help people. That is highlighted by how his talk with Leilani developed. Peter was never actually offended by Leilani when she made her Spider-Man comment. He knew that she was in trouble and did his best to help her as Peter Parker. That further pushes the idea of how genuine how all of the conversations in Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #1.
For those strengths in the main story of this issue the back-up did an even better job. Opening up with Aunt May as the narrator for this back-up was a great way to separate it from the main story. It immediately gave us a different perspective after spending more than twenty pages inside Spider-Man’s head.
Having Aunt May act as the narrator also gave greater weight to the revelations of the back-up story. Aunt May having cancer is a major development for her to go through. It is something that will challenge the relationship between Aunt May and Peter due to how they each are.
Taylor hints at those difficulties with how Aunt May breaks down at the end of the issue. It made perfect use of how much fans are invested in Aunt May with how much we have seen of her relationship with Peter be a major focus for the franchise over the years. It made the revelation harder to deal with because of that emotional connection. It’ll be very interesting to see how Taylor plans on explore Peter and Aunt May’s relationship with what was shown.
I also appreciate the fact that both in the main and back-up story is that Taylor does not avoid addressing aspects of the franchise that Nick Spencer has developed over in Amazing Spider-Man. It was particularly nice to see Taylor show us a date between Peter and MJ. This quick date showed that Taylor will explore every part of Peter’s life. And seeing smaller moments like that play in well with what makes Peter a beloved character.
Both Juann Cabal and Marcelo Ferreira delivered great artwork for both stories in Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #1. What was most enjoyable about Cabal and Ferreira’s respective artwork is that they hit the right tone with the stories Taylor has them draw. With Cabal’s artwork for the main story the art is vibrant and full of energy. Cabal brought out how NYC is a living and breathing city with different people for Peter to interact with in and out of his Spider-Man costume.
For the back-up story Ferreira delivered much more grounded artwork. Given the nature of Aunt May’s story that was the correct note to hit. Ferreira tapped into the emotional weight of what was revealed as we sympathize with Aunt May and her situation.
The Bad: The one minor thing that did keep it back was the ending of Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #1’s main story. As grounded as Taylor was making it out to be he takes that way by the two alien-like children that he introduces at the end. It was an odd sci-fi element that felt out of place with the tone the rest of this issue set. It did not steal all of the momentum that was created but was eyebrow raising developing.
Overall: Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #1 is a great start to Tom Taylor’s run on this series. Right away Taylor capturing what makes Spider-Man and Peter Parker compelling as characters. The world around them is properly developed with the back-up story providing an impactful note to leave fans wanting to come back for more. All of this is brought to life by Juann Cabal and Marcelo Ferreira artwork that fit the tone of their assigned stories. If you’re a Spider-Man I recommend checking out Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #1.