Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #2 Review

by Charles Martin on January 23, 2019

Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #2 Review
Writer: Tom Taylor
Artist: Juann Cabal
Colourist: Nolan Woodard
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Publisher: Marvel Comics

In his second issue, our Friendly Neighbourhood Spider-Man races off after the mysterious mooks kidnapping his neighbours. What he finds are surprising powers and unexpected allies and a sinister secret history conspiracy that needs unravelling.

Friendly! Neighbourhood-y!

I figure spider super-fans will want to know this above all else: FNSM #2 delivers zero forward motion on the character bombshell tucked into the B story of #1.

There are still some leftover strains of the brilliant communal tone established in the first issue. One of Spidey's new allies is a police detective with a marvellous connection to #1. And Spidey's babysitting arrangements deliver a gem of a guest star.

For the most part, though, this is very standard-issue Spider-Man charging at a very standard-issue superhero plot. It's not Spider-Man done poorly, but it's not the refreshingly novel "Spidey from the block" we met in the debut issue. And that's a shame.

This issue's art maintains a more consistent link with #1, which is a big plus. The blocking, anatomy, and details are all still impeccable. This issue's cast delivers artistic challenges aplenty, including young kids and old ladies in plot-critical roles. All of them are rendered with noteworthy and effective skill. There's no shortage of action, either, and it all looks great.

The sole exception might be the license plate gag, where the flow of motion seems to break down for a few panels. One rough patch in a very busy issue is no tragedy, though!

(If you read my review before the comic, a license plate thing will happen and you'll say, "Ahh, he was crazy! This is fine!" Wait for it; I'm talking about the other license plate thing.) 

The colours are also in line with the previous issue, demanding adjectives like "bright" and "vibrant" throughout. But they actually have impressive subtlety; the first scenes use careful shading to make it clear Spider-Man's bedroom is darkened without resorting to hard black shadows. Similar (but admittedly less-successful) modulation mutes the colours for the final scene, which takes place at dusk.

The way the colours and lines interact was slightly problematic for me, though. At some points, the heavy colours washed out the more detailed linework. I'm hesitant to penalize for this because I suspect it may be an artifact of the low resolution at which Marvel sends its digital review copies.

The development of the plot and its pace are deeper problems that cannot be explained by digital over-compression. This is a detailed, blow-by-blow story that covers a very short timespan. That's why this issue can't range as far afield as #1 did. 

I can't offer up a simple fix for the way that greater focus drains off the previous issue's distinctive tone. It may be a Catch-22; covering this stretch of plot in this number of pages may simply leave no room for the charming digressions that breathed so much life into #1.

It doesn't help that the superhero challenge unfolding in this issue feels thoroughly familiar. We haven't been handed many details yet, but it's all too easy to predict how future chapters will unfold. I can even see the general shape of the social commentary to come.

It's still far too good a story for me to spoil, though. FNSM #2 is an enjoyable, rewarding read. It just falls short of the debut issue's spectacular performance.

When I contrast the two issues we've got so far, I can only hope for a better balance in the future. #1 was all friendly, all neighbourhood. #2 is all Spider-Man, and it suffers a little for that. This is a strong, above-average Spider-Man story. But it offers up far less of the distinctive, home-cooked feel that made the last issue special.

Our Score:


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Charles Martin's picture
Another potential problem with this issue? It's 100% Spidey, 0% Peter Parker, and I think that hurts it.