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'Spidey: Freshman Year' review: A delight

Comic Books

‘Spidey: Freshman Year’ review: A delight

A pure and unadulterated Spider-Man experience.

Spidey is a series that dropped in on readers in December 2015. It felt fresh in that it crafted its stories as if you didn’t know who the greatest hero ever created was. Each issue opened with a handy one-page recap masterfully drawn by Nick Bradshaw to get everyone up to speed. It was light, highly entertaining, and the right kind of superhero story for an audience not usually catered to by Marvel Comics proper. Now it’s being collected in a handy collection.

So what’s it about?

The official summary reads:

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Think you know everything about Peter Parker? Think again! Expect action, adventure and hilarity in equal measure as we head back to high school to explore Pete’s early days! Modern talent combines with the classic Marvel flavor to present the web-slinging wonder’s younger years in truly amazing, spectacular, sensational style. It’s a return to the hassles of overdue homework, not knowing how to talk to girls and a never-ending merry-go-round of madness courtesy of the best rogues’ gallery in comics, each one more incredible than the last. You’ll love watching Spidey tangle with Doctor Octopus and dig Sandman, the walking beach. With these and more faces from Peter’s past -both familiar and surprising figures -you’ll remember what made Spider-Man the world’s greatest hero in the first place!

Why does this matter?

This contains 261 pages, collecting the 12 issue run of Spidey from writer Robbie Thompson and artists Nick Bradshaw, André Lima Araújo, and Nate Stockman. This run was an all-ages Spider-Man run that any reader, from hardcore webheads to brand new readers, could pick up and enjoy. This is also in a slightly smaller semi-digest format which makes it easier for younger kids to read.

Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?

'Spidey: Freshman Year' review: A delight

You can never get enough Spider-Man lifting stuff to save the day.
Credit: Marvel Comics

Throughout this collection, the story is light and easy to get into. New readers are going to love it and the Spidey veterans will dig the new elements Marvel is adding to Spider-Man’s backstory. Gwen Stacy is a great addition as she looks out for Peter during the day and even tutors him on one of his worst subjects (history!). Spider-Man has his powers but is still bullied every day, but puts up with it to keep his secret identity, well, a secret. There’s also a wide selection of cameos from heroes like Iron Man, Captain America, and Black Panther and a ton of villains. Hell, even Dr. Doom shows up to mess with Spider-Man’s life.

Thompson does a great job getting into the high schooler’s head. The dialogue and narration pin down the anxiety and stress a kid in high school goes through and it’s bound to make many think of Brian Michael Bendis’s run when he kicked off Ultimate Spider-Man. This is a younger Spider-Man which is hard to get these days, especially with Miles acting a bit older.

The collection of artists in this book are fantastic too. They all capture the lanky and very young look of Peter, further making him the underdog. The kid looks like he can be snapped like a twig, never mind face off against the Sinister Six! Artist Nathan Stockman closes this collection out very well, with each villain looking great and the action interesting and fun. The final full-page splash is downright great (those webs tho!) and he even gets a crack at a very iconic panel of Spider-Man’s costume. Spider-Man has a young look that suits his age throughout the collection (colors by Jim Campbell keep the distinctness of the villains nicely separated in the final chapter).

Spidey faces off against the Sinister Six in the last chapter, which seems fitting since he has fought most of them in prior chapters in everything from quick single panels to entire issues. Each baddie gets their moment to shine and Spidey tries to keep it light. Thompson seems to suggest via the lack of jokes that when Spidey is having a good day the humor doesn’t come as easily, which is an interesting touch.

'Spidey: Freshman Year' review: A delight

The Gwen Stacy and Peter relationship is possibly the best “new” element of the series.
Credit: Marvel Comics

It can’t be perfect, can it?

This series is obviously not in canon so purists might not be up for it. It’s also very much written for newer readers, but if you need a little extra Spider-Man in your life, this is a good place to look.

Is it good?

A pure and unadulterated Spider-Man experience. Spidey is delightful.

'Spidey: Freshman Year' review: A delight
Spidey: Freshman Year
Is it good?
A pure and unadulterated Spider-Man experience. Spidey is delightful.
Great voice of Peter Parker throughout
Gwen Stacy relationship is on point
Good for all ages
Sharp art from all three main artists
Not in canon and not exactly brand new material. It's more for newer readers

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