Hey there, Pulp peeps! Another week has rolled by, and that means that it’s time for Pulp to awaken in its ancient, forgotten tomb and rise to inflict terror and/or joy upon the world at large. With that in mind, this week’s comic is sure to inspire the latter. Sometimes in comic book land the stars align, and you get the perfect combination of writer and series. This week’s book is one of my favourite combinations and an absolute delight: Tom Taylor’s Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man. For those of you who may not be aware, Tom is a Melbourne-based comic writer that’s written for both Marvel (Superior Iron Man) and DC (DCeased), as well as some excellent creator-owned titles.
Peter Parker’s life is, as always, complicated. Whenever his life takes a step in the right direction, there’s always a personal crisis, or an earthquake or a new supervillain on the rampage. All the while, Pete’s trying to pay his rent, get his washing done, and help out his older neighbours. Pete loves his neighbourhood, and while his career as Spider-Man has a tendency to leave it in ruins, he does his best to keep everyone safe. When his new neighbour leaves two fugitive heirs to an underground empire in his laundry basket, Pete is drawn into a conflict that threatens all of New York. As he navigates the politics of an utterly alien empire, Pete has to deal with a threat to his very core: Aunt May has been diagnosed with cancer. With the centre of his universe in peril, one wrong step could see the end of his relationship with his aunt, or the end of New York City.
It wouldn’t be a Spider-Man book without a whole lot of drama and calamitous events, and the first volume of Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man, Secrets and Rumors, is no exception. I think any writer that picks up a Spidey book must be contractually obliged to make Pete’s life continually worse and worse. Aunt May has been a constant presence in Spider-Man books since the very beginning, and to threaten to take her away (no matter how insincere the threat may be – it is Marvel after all) seems like one hell of a transgression. What interested me most about this book is Taylor’s take on Pete’s daily life. Writing light, day-to-day events seems to be an area in which Taylor really shines, and he is able to make even the simplest of interactions seem sweet and heartfelt. Of particular note is the backup story, featuring Spidey’s newest sidekick – Spider-Bite. Spider-Bite – a.k.a. Nathan – is a young cancer patient who just wants to spend time with his hero, and Pete is more than happy to make his dreams come true. It’s a hell of a tale, and really tugs at the heartstrings.
As this is another Marvel #1, the artwork – drawn primarily by Juann Cabal, with assistance from Yildiray Cinar and Marcelo Ferreira – is passable, but I wouldn’t call it a feature of the book. As I expected, I gravitated more to Taylor’s writing than anything else, and while the overarching story of underground empires was interesting, the exploration of Pete’s day-to-day life is far more interesting.
All up, this is a book for any fan of Spider-Man. There are enough callbacks and appearances from other heroes to tide over any Marvel buff, and Taylor proves his worth once again with a fantastic take on one of my favourite heroes of all time.
Written by Alastair McGibbon