Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man: Secrets and Rumours – Tom Taylor, Juan Cabal, Yildiray Cinar, Douglas Franchin & Nolan Woodard (Marvel)

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For as long as I can remember, I’ve been in Spidey’s corner. Peter Parker and his arachnid powered alter-ego have been part of my life longer than pretty much anything, and everything, else and the “timid” photographer, scientist and costumed vigilante is quite possibly the figure that initially propelled me down a lifelong path of geekery and fandom. Unlike Tom Taylor, in all the time that I’ve been a badge wearing member of the wallcrawling club and the hundreds of times I’ve read about him literally saving New York and Earth, I’ve never really thought about his self-imposed title and hadn’t considered the implications of, or what it meant to be, the Friendly, Neighbourhood Spider-Man.

Tom Taylor has thought long and hard about what it means to actually be the Friendly Neighborhood Spiderman and what it entails, and in Secrets and Rumours, he takes the hero who has battled gods and faced Galactus back to basics and transforms him into the guardian of his home and neighbours who just so happens to sometimes, when he’s needed, save the rest of the world too.  And taking Spider-Men home and back to the streets is probably the best decision that any Spidey writer has made in years.

Personal, immediate and with a warmth and wit that’s all too often lacking in Pete’s escapades, Secrets and Rumours finds our favourite hero dealing with one of the toughest personal crises he’s ever had to face, while saving his neighbourhood and the rest of New York City from a family squabble that could turn Frank Sinatra’s favourite town upside down and inside out. While that’s pretty much all in day’s work for Spider-Man, the way Taylor handles the plot and characterisation makes it feel much more affable and direct than the usual run of the mill Spider-Man tales. Secrets and Rumours thrives on the tangled, complicated web of relationships that Pete has built within his community  and the local knowledge that he’s been burdened with, and by, as a result.

Taylor’s Spider-Man is about people first and action second, and it’s all the more powerful for it. The humour is amiable and cordial, the story involving and the moments that Pete shares with his loved ones and friends are more believable, because this Spider-Man has shed any notions of grandiosity and has become everything that he always, deep down inside, knew that he was and was supposed to be. Teamed with the knockout punch, hyper-realistic art of Cabal and Cinar, Taylor has done something that few writers before him ever have. He’s found Spidey’s centre, discovered what makes him tick and with his artistic comrades in arms has delivered a Spider-Man story that will touch you in all the emotion places that you’ve probably forgotten about while making you remember why it was that you originally went all kinds of ga-ga for Peter Parker. Bravo Mr Taylor, bravo… Tim Cundle

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