A shadowy organization is profiting on the pain and misery of the unfortunate. Spider-Man, the Prowler, and the Rumor are working together to take it down, but they need a bit more help. That’s why Spidey seeks the aid of Tony Stark, but while he’s out doing that, the Prowler is taking matters into his own hands. Will Hobie Brown be able to survive the onslaught of Helminth?
There’s a lot to take in with Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #10. The book feels like its twice its size with the amount of content packed within its pages. Each scene flows seamlessly into the next, touching upon each character and moving the story along at a breakneck pace. Writer Tom Taylor peppers in just the right amount of comedic relief to keep a smile on your face without taking away from the danger of this enemy or the drama unfolding.
Case in point, the opening exchange between Spider-Man and Iron Man is hilarious. These two characters have such opposing personalities, creating a really fun interaction. Taylor presents an interesting dynamic, where Tony represents the path Peter could have taken if he valued fame and fortune instead of the tireless efforts of a masked hero. Tony flat out asks Peter “Aren’t you a genius?” criticizing his path and questioning why he can’t do something like this for himself.
Ken Lashley, Scott Hanna, and Luca Maresca all contributed artwork to Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #10. I’m not a fan of switching artists in the middle of a story arc, let alone throughout a single issue as it disrupts the flow of the story. In this case, it happens during a scene so it’s even more jarring. All three are solid artists on their own, but when this kind of setup happens, it throws everything off.
Lashley has the standout page of this issue where Spider-Man falls victim to Helminth and all of his past mistakes and fears are brought to the surface. His greatest failures swirl around him in an eerie cloud as he slumps down in the center of the page, seemingly defeated. We see bits and pieces of classic Spider-Man stories from the past few decades, proving just how much trauma this poor man has been through.
Colorist Nolan Woodard gives these images a spectral quality, like they’re the ghosts of Spidey’s past come back to haunt him. The web-head is in the middle in his usual bright costume, which complements what happens immediately after. The hero uses his past failures to fuel him. This is what makes him stronger. He’s driven by this to ensure that no one else has to go through this tragedy again. It’s an empowering scene that gets to the heart of the character. He may not have the wealth or notoriety of Iron Man, but he’s got all the heart in the world.
Letterer Travis Lanham amplifies this emotional scene with shaky word balloons for Peter’s dialogue. He’s clearly in a lot of pain and struggling to even stand up, but he’s pushing himself to continue. His voice falters a bit, yet he soldiers on. This has the potential to join the other scenes it references as a classic Spider-Man sequence.
Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man continues to set such a high bar with a moving story, great artwork, and emotional action sequences that would be right at home in the biggest blockbuster movies. It manages to deliver new insights into this icon of pop culture while also staying true to his roots and his core essence.