Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #1
Our Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man is having a nice, normal day. He saves a plummeting moving van, helps his elderly neighbor with her groceries, and has lunch with a couple of homeless folks. Normal for him, at least. That is, until he meets Leilani, a neighbor embroiled in some sort of deep conspiracy. What has Pete gotten himself into this time!?
Tom Taylor has made his mark on the comics industry through his ability to write adaptive and distinct voices for his characters. From Gabby to Alfred and everybody in-between, Taylor’s greatest skill is to not transpose himself onto the characters he writes but rather allow the characters to be themselves. When FNS-M was announced with Taylor at the helm, my immediate thoughts all revolved around Peter and his quips and dorky humor and what great potential there was for Taylor to exploit his skill-set on this book. I was not disappointed. Not every joke from Peter’s mouth lands, nor should they. Writers often find themselves wrapped up in getting the laugh but Peter is, for all intents and purposes, a socially-awkward nerd (like many of us). We all know the feeling of that awkward silence when a one-liner goes awry and Taylor captures that here with astonishing grace. If I had one criticism, I felt like there were a number of moments where the narration switched to an interior monologue where perhaps it should have been captured in Spidey’s continued dialogue in a slightly more rambling fashion but that is a minor nitpick.
Peter’s interactions with his neighbors and neighborhood seems an element easily lost for the character but recaptured here. Peter is, historically, a street-level, local hero. Over the years he has been thrust into the greater capers in the MCU but the heart of the character lives in New York City– a people’s hero capable of going global but at his best at home.
Artistically, I felt like both style and layout played excellently in this issue. The use here of long, vertical panels evokes the notion that “nobody ever looks up” (a quote that I’ve read in connection with superheroes but cannot seem to place at this time… perhaps Marvels?). The stretched layout gives a sense of the magnitude of being a rooftop hero in NYC but the shifts to grid layouts for interpersonal scenes capture an intimacy that the series seems to be striving for between Peter and the city.
I'm not sure where the over-arching narrative is headed but the charming and endearing writing of Peter by Taylor has me on-board for my first Spider-Man title in over a decade.
Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #1: Bring Apples
Writing - 9/10
Storyline - 7/10
Art - 8/10
Color - 8/10
Cover Art - 7/10
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