You would think opening a homeless shelter would be a good thing, but not in this neighborhood. She may be diagnosed with cancer, but Aunt May is going to do as much good as she can while she’s still able to do so by re-opening the F.E.A.S.T. shelter. The local business owners are concerned about what this will do for their property values and then the Prowler shows up with some nefarious plans.
Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man went right for the heart from the very beginning of this series. This issue is no different, tackling some major issues facing this country today such as homelessness and healthcare. These are very clear messages, but they’re not shown in big flashing lights. Instead, writer Tom Taylor weaves them into the story in an organic fashion, sending you to the only logical conclusion.
These topics are also handled delicately. The attention isn’t taken away from Peter Parker’s life as Spider-Man. We’re given theses small glimpses into the periphery of his world. In the case of healthcare, we see a quiet moment between Aunt May and Mary Jane when the former learns that her cancer treatment is not covered by her insurance. Think about this for a second. Here you have an elderly woman suffering from cancer who raised her nephew and just re-opened a homeless shelter. If anyone deserves healthcare, it’s Aunt May.
This doesn’t derail the overall story. If anything, it raises the stakes. Peter Parker is known for his bad luck and unfortunately, it looks like that extends to his loved ones. Taylor works in layers, bringing in plot threads from every issue of Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man to date. This rewards long time readers while still being accessible as a jumping on point.
Artist Ken Lashley gets to the heart of these beats, bringing the raw emotion to the surface. A great example of this is in the opening pages showing a flashback to Peter’s childhood as Uncle Ben teaches him a valuable lesson about helping others. This scene fills me with such joy. If I can be half the father that Uncle Ben was, I will consider myself a success.
Colorist Nolan Woodard brings this flashback to life with such care with softer colors. This is very much a pleasant memory. When we jump back to the present, things are brighter, yet grittier. You almost squint when you turn the page. Uncle Ben’s lessons clearly made an impression on young Peter as he carries them through to adulthood.
Lashley has a talent for facial expressions, instantly giving you an idea of the personality and mood of a character the moment they appear on the page. This also extends to Spider-Man with a great range, even though his face is hidden behind a mask. A real stand out is Aunt May. She’s clearly going through a lot, but she pushes that all down to hold her head up high and fight for what’s right. Between her and Uncle Ben, it’s no wonder Peter Parker became a super hero.
Prowler pops up near the end of this issue, definitely leading towards something bigger. I’m not going to speculate too much here as there’s more to come with this series. It adds a fair amount of mystery to the storyline. Throwing Peter’s roommate Boomerang into the mix adds some humor as well.
Letterer Travis Lanham has some choice sound effect placement, particularly near the end of this issue when things heats up. I like how he wraps the words around the artwork, amplifying the action. My favorite comes as a window smashes. The crashing sound wraps around the broken glass through the air.
Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man continues to deliver dynamite stories matched with top notch artwork. This series is going places. It gets to the heart of the character, both in and out of costume. Perhaps more importantly, it further fleshes out the supporting cast, showing how integral they are to the Spider-Man’s world. I’m just as invested in Aunt May’s life as I am with Peter Parker’s.