By d. emerson eddy — Every now and again there is a story in comics that kind of blindsides you, something profound, poignant, and moving that seemingly comes out of nowhere. Stories that tackle difficult subject matter in a heartfelt, intelligent way that often can only be told through the allegory of super-heroes and how powerless even godlike beings are in the face of certain forces. Marvel has done a number of these in recent years, including the gun issue of Champions #24, and Deadpool #20's handling of a suicidal girl. Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #6 doesn’t quite deal with a big issues topic, like gun control or suicide, but it’s subject matter is still meaningful and important.
In this comic, Tom Taylor, Juann Cabal, Nolan Woodard, Federico Blee, and Travis Lanham introduce us to Spider-Man's newest little sidekick, Spider-Bite, who is a solid nine-and-a-half years old. In doing so, they embrace the joy and wonder of super-heroics as Spiders-Man and -Bite take on the perilous plots of the Sinister Sixty (exactly what it sounds like), enjoying as they do the sheer fun of escapism. I won’t spoil it here, but when you find out what's fully happening in the issue, your heart will melt. By the end, you'll undoubtedly be in tears. Just beautiful work.
In addition to the joy and sorrow of the story material, Juann Cabal takes the opportunity to show off his technical storytelling aptitude again, particularly in a double-page spread (see below) that is just packed with panels detailing the fight between the Spiders and the Sinister Sixty. Woodard and Blee bring the action a bright and varied colour palette, perfectly fitting the super-hero derring-do, and then a subtle, muted shift that makes sense for the ending. Travis Lanham also adds some very prominent sound effects throughout that enhance the “comic book” nature of the action. It's all a wonderful series of touches that elevate the super-hero aspect of the story.
Overall, this issue underlines the need for a little bit of escape time in our lives, a bit of joy and wonder to make our inner child smile and to help others achieve that goal from time to time. Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #6 is just a great story from Taylor, Cabal, Woodard, Blee, and Lanham that reminds us of the power of fiction, and of how much being the hero for just a little while can make everything all right. And of the real heroism of the people who bring that joy to others every day.
Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #6
Writer: Tom Taylor
Artist: Juann Cabal
Colorists: Nolan Woodard & Federico Blee
Letterer: VC's Travis Lanham
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d. emerson eddy is a student and writer of things. He fell in love with comics during Moore, Bissette, & Totleben's run on Swamp Thing and it has been a torrid affair ever since. His madness typically manifests itself on Twitter @93418.