Marvel Comics was very smart in giving Tom Taylor the reins of a second Spider-Man book to coincide with Nick Spencer’s takeover of the character. It not only allowed Taylor to explore a different corner of New York–more accurately “Under York”–but also play with the Spider-Man personality we know and love. Read: Cluelessly hilarious. This second volume wraps up Taylor’s run on the series with issues #7-14 while also revealing more about his new older hero named Rumor.
This book opens with a four-issue story arc involving a villain named Helminth which ties into Rumor’s backstory. It then breaks for a War of the Realms tie-in issue, and then over the last three issues warps up Under York and Aunt May’s cancer treatments. As far as conclusions go this book delivers. The War of the Realms tie-in is also a fun done-in-one involving Mary Jane that shows she’s a natural-born leader and hero even without powers. Well done there too.
The development of Rumor may be the strongest element of this entire series and its vision. We learn she was forced to live in the Japanese Internment camps during World War II even though she fought side by side with Captain America during World War I. Taylor has essentially created a hero born out of the turmoil of this horrible American act which legitimizes the heroes struggle while not letting us forget this terrible act. It’s a character originated in the same vein as Captain America and how he doesn’t let us forget about WWII and Hitler’s acts. She’s also written very well with energy and spunk you don’t normally see with older characters in comics.
The integration of Aunt May’s homeless shelter F.E.A.S.T. as well as Prowler’s involvement in the story is also well done. Taylor has a knack for weaving in multiple elements so they congeal well even if on paper they may not. How he writes each character is well done too since the voice of the more serious Prowler mixing with the sillier Spider-Man tends to play off each other well. That goes for the Fantastic Four too, who show up in the later issues.
The beauty of this series lies in the good nature of the characters. We saw it in the first arc when the neighborhood rose up to fight as one, and we see it in the beautiful ending in this issue. Spider-Man is given the night off thanks to a bunch of heroes pitching in so he can stay with Aunt May. Spidey, of course, doesn’t stay, he can’t help but help, but it ends in an empowering moment where Taylor makes a strong case to help one another. We see it in the opening pages of the book when Spider-Man helps a homeless man who is being abused by a rich jerk too. There are good vibes here that prove Taylor understands this character backward and forwards.
The art is split up between Ken Lashley, Juann Cabal, Scott Hanna, Luca Maresca, Pere Perez, Todd Nauck, Ig Guara, Dike Ruan, and Marguerite Sauvage. That is a lot of artists and I won’t deny the change in artists does make the narrative feel a bit jarring visually they’re all putting in incredible effort in this book. You can’t deny the incredible clean nature of Cabal’s work (or the details like the web-shooters in Spidey’s wrist and palm) in issue #9 and #11 or how Lashley draws clothing and the explosions in issue #7.
The vision of this collection does feel a bit tampered with either due to scheduling or because of the necessity to tie into War of the Realms. Take for instance Aunt May’s cancer. It’s brought up early on but takes a back seat until the final issue. You get the sense that Taylor may not have known how many more issues he had at certain points but then barrels towards the ending. While the Mary Jane issue is fun, the nature of the tie-in makes it feel out of place here, too.
This is a good finish to Tom Taylor’s run on the series, but due to the multiple artists and wobbly pacing, it doesn’t quite match the expertly done first volume. It does put a lot of what Taylor was doing to bed though equalling a satisfying end to an epic 14 issue run.
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