Amazing Spider-Man: Friends and Foes – Nick Spencer, Humberto Ramos & Michele Bandini (Panini / Marvel)


Some things are meant to be together. Like peaches and cream, Stan and Ollie, Van Halen and Dave Lee Roth, coffee and donuts and last, but not least, Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson.  Pete’s the yin to MJ’s yang and MJ’s the missing part of the puzzle that completes Pete, and now that they’re a couple again, the Spidey express is finally back on track and after what seems like an eternity of personal wrong turns and dead ends, the wall crawler’s world can finally get back to normal. Normal however, has always been subjective for Peter Parker, and in Friends and Foes  his new roommate is a supervillain and an ancient order of thieves thought to be the stuff of legend return to reclaim their place at the top of the pecking order, which is about as normal as things ever get in Spidey’s life. 

Playing out against the backdrop of a Spider-Man who, after being given what he really needs and wants by the Universe, is at long last happy to just be who he is, the events of Friends and Foes seem like an everyday walk through the webs for the wall-crawler; a hugely entertaining one, but nothing that he can’t handle or take in his stride. Invited to a trivia night at a supervillain hangout by his roommate, who after finding out a little more about Pete is convinced that he’s going to win big, Spidey is given an alternate identity as a new criminal about town by his roomie to help him blend in with the rambunctious crew he’s sipping drinks with, but things soon, as they always inevitably do, go pear shaped for Pete. 

Adversity has a way of forging friendships and with their fat about to be frazzled in the frying pan of villainy, Pete finds a new respect for his roommate who pulls them both out of the fire. Spidey is then plunged headlong back into the flames by the Black Cat after he teams up with her to take down the oldest, and boldest, bunch of thieves in the world. It’s all in days’ work for Spidey, or it would be if it wasn’t for Wilson Fisk and his latest partner in crime, a dastardly duo who have scores to settle with Pete and his roommate that are certain to make both of their lives more than a little difficult. Which is about par for the course for Spider-Man, because as he knows all too well, the Universe may giveth but it also taketh away.

Nick Spencer is already hitting his stride with Spidey, as Friends and Foes feels like spending time with a friend that you haven’t seen in an age. It’s like settling into a familiar groove that’s comfortable and easy and reminds you just why you originally fell hook, line and sinker for Spider-Man. The dialogue, characterisation and the multi-layered plot all fall neatly into place and Bandini and Ramos provide the perfect canvas for Spencer to weave his tale upon. Friends and Foes is all about Spidey doing what Spidey does best. And nobody does it better… Tim Cundle

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