Spider-Man has faced all kinds of foes in time as a hero. While there have been quite a few allies in his never-ending fight on crime, none were like Spider-Bite, a new pint-sized hero who takes after the wall-crawler. He’ll need all the help he can get as his enemies have upgraded and he’s about to battle the Sinister Sixty.
If you were hoping for the next chapter in the story of Aunt May’s cancer, Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #6 doesn’t have that. Instead, it has something else. It’s a one-shot tale that is so very perfect. The next time someone asks me why Spider-Man is my favorite character, I’m going to hand them this issue.
The story starts off interesting enough, although a bit quirky with Spider-Bite hopping into action against Doc Ock, saving his namesake from imminent danger. He gets in some of the best hits and the best quips without missing a beat. He is introduced without any real background, not unlike Dawn showing up in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. There’s a reason for this and it’s revealed by the end of the issue in a beautiful twist.
I’m not going to spoil this moment because it’s best experienced cold. The revelation happens slowly with artist Juann Cabal making some subtle changes before pulling the curtain back all the way. This also explains the look of the scenes and characters.
Cabal is a master of art direction and Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #6 is a great example of his work. There’s a fantastic double page spread filled with dozens of panels, showing Spider-Bite and Spider-Man battling every member of the Sinister Sixty. Some of them are super small, showing a tiny detail in the heated action. You might wonder how these two can take on so many enemies at once, but it almost seems simple with this intense layout.
Colorists Nolan Woodard & Federico Blee make this book come alive with a gorgeous, vibrant palette. Everything looks and feels brighter. You really get the sense that anything can happen here and when things are put into perspective, that makes total sense. It’s a perfect complement to the artwork and the tone of the story.
Rounding everything out is Travis Lanham’s spot-on letters, adding that extra oomph to make this the adventurous tale it is. This is the kind of wide-eyed excitement that I’ve come to associate with Spider-Man.
While I’m anxious to get back to Peter Parker’s ongoing struggles both in and out of costume, I am so very grateful for this stand-alone issue. Writer Tom Taylor just gets the character and what makes him tick. That’s just part of what makes Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man such a fantastic read each and every month. This issue in particular is a real standout and shortlisted for one of the best single issues of the year.