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Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #1

Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #1. Cover by Mike Wieringo."The Other: Part 1"
Publisher Marvel
Written by Peter David
Pencilled by Mike Wieringo
Inked by Karl Kesel

As House of M approaches the finish line, Marvel's other big event moves quietly into first gear with the release of new spider-title, "Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man* " and the first part of "The Other," a story that promises to change Spider-Man forever. But, well, don't they all?

Replacing Paul Jenkins' Spectacular Spider-Man shouldn't, by rights, be an easy task, but industry veteran (and former spider-writer) Peter David makes it look like a breeze. The first issue of FNSM displays some of the humour that PAD (to use his traditional acronym) made a staple of his runs on titles like Captain Marvel and Incredible Hulk. It's not an easy job to get Spider-Man to sound genuinely funny, but a scene where Peter wise cracks while training with Captain America should make you laugh for all the right reasons. PAD's ability to balance character development with comedy pays off well.

The artwork on this new title comes from Mike Wieringo. Again, a creator with plenty of spidey-related experience under his belt, this time around Wieringo takes a less cartoony or exaggerated approach than he has done before, much closer to Frank Cho or the Dodson's recent work on the character, but the with a healthy dose of Romita Snr. thrown in. Wieringo's ability to do humour, action, and humourous action are a dead-on match for any spider-title - doubly so when it's PAD doing the writing.

So with all that in mind, it's certainly a good time to be a spider-fan. This new title, with 2 returning talents makes for an entertaining read. It's Spider-Man portrayed in the classic style, fighting a street-level villain with a slightly lame, yet surprisingly effective gimmick, cracking wise while he does and dealing with the odd piece of personal trouble through it all. He might currently be in the Avengers and living at the top of a skyscraper, but this issue shows that those changes are cosmetic at best - this Spider-Man should be familiar to any fan of any version of the character. Somehow, though, with all the comfortable familiarity, it feels a little... underwhelming

The problem is, for the first part of a 12-issue crossover, it's almost too conventional. It's not a case of hitting the ground running so much as rolling out of bed and thinking about going for a stroll later that afternoon. There are the beginnings of a character arc for Peter, and Morlun, a villain from Straczynski's initial run, returns to foreshadow some future plot developments, but it's really not what you might expect from the first issue of such a big arc. Morlun's role is unclear and Peter's initial dream sequence clues the reader in on very little, because the scope for interpretation is so broad. The only real hook in the issue comes from the ending when a doctor who recently took a sample of Spidey's blood phones up with the promise of grim news for Peter.

Wieringo's take this time around is clearly influenced by Romita Sr. more than ever.
Wieringo's take this time around is clearly influenced by Romita Sr. more than ever.

PAD's writing and Wieringo's artwork mean that FNSM is a title with a lot of promise. It definitely has all the ingredients for an enjoyable run in place. More's the pity, then, that the team won't even be working together again until issue 4, as Hudlin and Straczynski take over the writing for issues two and three respectively while they tell their parts of the crossover. This does mean a triple dose of PAD this month, however, as he can be found writing issue #19 of Marvel Knights Spider-Man and issue #525 of Amazing Spider-Man with art by Pat Lee and Mike Deodato Jr.

For the start of a 12-part story, this issue doesn't appear to be doing a lot to put all the pieces in place, instead opting to get some minor mysteries simmering in the background. Judging by what PAD and Wieringo have done, I'm looking forward more to seeing what they can do once they're working under their own mandate, rather than how the next part of The Other progresses.

FNSM's debut tells a solid story that shows technical brilliance, but somewhat muted effort. It feels as if it lacks the passion and momentum that you'd hope to see from the creators, and that's certainly because you get the impression they have to wait until this story is over before they can really hit their stride. If you're not thinking of picking up the rest of the crossover, it'd be a huge mistake not to come back to this series once "The Other" is over and see what the team can do under their own power. There's a lot of promise, but right now, it's promise alone. B.

* I am aware this is misspelt, but it's misspelt on the cover. Because it's written by Americans.

About this entry


I was quite excited when I saw the preview art and whatnot for this book, as the creative team looks something of a spider-dream (ho ho). But I'm a bit underwhelmed by launching a new title as part of a crossover like this. Particularly as the crossover looks a bit... I don't know. It's been all ominously foreshadowed in publicity material, but is there really that much that they're going to do with it that's in any way exciting and has a lasting effect on the character? JMS tried to do that with the mystical claptrap, and that was quickly forgotten about; while there was a surprising lack of hoo-ha about the change to "organic" webshooters late in Jenkins' run.

I might check in and out of the Spider-books while the crossover is going on (I haven't bought one since Romita Jr. left Amazing, although I recently read the trade of "Sins Past", and despite the appallingness of the actual storyline, the book itself wasn't a bad read); but I might just wait until the crossover's over to start hitting this title properly.

I would like, however, to be able to buy and enjoy at least one 616 Spidey title a month again - this looks like it might be the one.

By Seb Patrick
October 20, 2005 @ 11:58 am

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That's pretty much the feeling I had, wanting to buy some in-continuity spider-man titles. I haven't read a 616 spidey comic with any regularity for absolutely years. UK reprints aside, I may never have done, now that I think about it.

That's why I was late to the party with Ultimate Spider-Man, in fact, I was just used to not buying Spider-Man comics. I bought the last marvel knights spider-man arc and it was underwhelming to say the least, so I've decided to buy all of "The Other" and then guage from that which title I want to follow.

FNSM is definitely the title I'm expecting to go for though. I just bought MK Spider-Man #19 which is PAD's second part of the crossover, and it's really good, despite Pat Lee's uneven art. It's a Mary-Jane centric issue, and it's got this great scene where she's playing pool with Captain America that convinces me PAD knows what he's doing.

By James
October 21, 2005 @ 12:42 am

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