Keeping Spider-Man fresh isn’t the easiest job; the character has been around nearly sixty years, and he’s been through a lot. I’m not going to list it all, mind you, but if you don’t know…well, there are Epic Collections and movies and tv shows and trade paperbacks that can get you up to speed.
Speaking of which, this week I had the chance to catch up on two new digital trades that have captured the first story-arcs of two distinct Spider-Men; the legacy Spidey, Peter Parker, and his Ultimate pal, Miles Morales, originally from another dimension but now an essential part of the Marvel 616 Universe.
Friendly Neighbourhood Spider-Man
Volume 1: Secrets and Rumors
Writer: Tom Taylor
Artist: Juann Cabal
This book is as its title describes – Peter Parker dealing with situations and life close to home. In this case, its navigating neighbours from another dimension, living with a roommate/felon, and a status quo changing life situation for Aunt May.
Taylor, who has done fantastic work on DC’s Injustice series, along with X-Men: Red, which helped bring the resurrected Jean Grey back to Marvel prominence, is writing an incredibly joyful book. His Friendly Neighbourhood Spider-Man is full of fun and the funny, and the fact that it’s set in mostly in New York (well, make that Under York), makes the book the rare superhero title that feels happily relatable in how one sees and appreciates their environment.
Home is home and we want to feel safe and secure and protected. We want to depend on our neighbours, even if we also crave the privacy that sometimes being in close proximity to others. Clearly, this is a sentiment that is universal, seeing as I’m up here in Toronto and Tom Taylor is all the way down under in Australia. Wherever you are though, this book definitely feels like home.
Volume 1: Straight Out of Brooklyn
Writer: Saladin Ahmed
Artist: Javier Garron
Speaking of home, writer Saladin Ahmed is thankfully right at home crafting the adventures of Miles Morales. I haven’t kept up much with Miles since he became part of the proper Marvel Universe and, to be honest, I wasn’t that keen on reading someone writing him who isn’t Brian Michael Bendis.
In a Marvel career that featured unparalleled storytelling, I’ve long thought Miles Morales was Bendis’ crowning achievement for the House of Ideas. While I know others are free to play with the character, sometimes I wondered if anybody should. My mistake, and I’m glad I remedied it with this first trade.
Simply put, Saladin Ahmed nails Miles Morales with every bit of dialogue he writes. I was genuinely surprised at just how alive Miles felt, with every word jumping off the digital page. Truth be told, this my first time reading Ahmed’s work (though I’ve heard amazing things about his Black Bolt series), and I was left seriously impressed. I believed in Miles, Ganke and their Brooklyn friends as teenagers. They read real to me. Ahmed’s Miles here feels a little older than the one Bendis and Sarah Pichelli first introduced, and I liked seeing the character aged a bit. Again, it’s nice to see a character I like in safe hands.
Both Friendly Neighbourhood Spider-Man and Miles Morales share not only great art from Juann Cabal, Yildiray Cinar, and Javier Harron, respectively, but also a palpable enthusiasm for the characters. With great power must also come great responsibility, sure, but in the hands of these excellent creators, it also comes with fun. Here’s hoping these two books can be self-contained for a while and continue; you know, and keep it in the neighbourhoods.