Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Friendly Neightbourhood spider-Man #11 Advance Review

Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #11
Writer: Peter David
Artists: Todd Nauck

Review Content: As much as I have criticised the changes JMS has brought to the Spider-Man mythos, I still applaud him for reintroducing the school element in Peter Parker’s life by making him a teacher in his old school. JMS of course quickly forgot about that story thread and chose to focus on Spidey’s other ‘job’ as an Avenger, allowing Peter David free reign to build Spidey a new supporting cast around the school setting, and even reintroduce members of his classic cast like Flash Thompson into this setting to recapture some of the lost old magic of the Stan Lee years.

This same teaching job poses the most glaring logic reasoning hole in Peter’s Unmasking decision; although MJ and May can both be locked up safely in Stark’s tower till the end of their days, Peter’s revelation paints a huge bullseye all over his school and his students. Spidey’s disgruntled foes won’t bother going through Avengers security to get to his aunt and wife, when they can more easily cause as much grief by paying a visit to his day job. No matter what angle the writers approach this from, Spider-man will always be made to look like a douchebag for endangering a school-ful of teenagers to satisfy the pro-registration movement ( which only itself began, ironically, from another school destruction).

There is a lot happening in this issue plotwise to satisfy everyone; to summarise without giving away any spoilers: Peter shows up for work at the school for the first time since the unmasking, only to be welcomed by a parents protest (with a hilarious and creative selection of banners you can see in this preview page) and a swarm of reporters with equally irreverent tabloid-esque questions. This encounter, his discussion with his principal and a confrontation by his students will put him in a tight spot to make his final decision.I would have imagined the resolution to this conundrum would be an open-and-shut case of Spidey quitting his job (and unfortunately severing his last tie to a normal life outside the webs), but Peter David appears to be heading into a surprising direction, from some online comments and his continuing development of the high school supporting cast by introducing more new characters.

Flash Thompson continues his post-amnesia comedic relief and has the most unexpected reaction to the unmasking so far, ending in a long-overdue dodgeball rematch between him and Spidey!?! MJ makes a b-t-s appearance through a phonecall which still reveals more about the chemistry between the couple than the lengthy diatribes in the ‘other’ title. The all-new Mysterio shows up (albeit without the Mystery Meat grinder from the cover) with a clever siege plan for the school, and a rather geeky and annoying villainous rant that separates him from his late predecessor. Finally, the last page offers a shocking cliffhanger as another classic Spidey villain makes a surprising return, and you will never guess who it is!

Peter David manages to keep the story up-beat and entertaining despite the current bleakness of Civil War while keeping a perfect balance with the serious core of Peter’s dilemma. Todd Nauck is the fill-in artist for this issue, doing an admirable job of keeping to the spirit of the book without compromising his personal style to mimic the title’s regular artist.

Grade A

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