Spidey #6 goes right for my sweet spot: Marvel Team-Up. Nick Bradshaw hits readers in the eyeballs with a classic Marvel mock-up cover featuring Spider-Man and Iron Man against the Vulture as the feathered fiend holds both heroes at bay. The cover even goes so far as to revive the Comics Code Authority logo for the digital code tag and is completed with the classic corner box concept, with Spidey’s and Iron Man’s noggins up in the top left corner.
The writing for Spidey #6 continues to be the highlight of this series, as Peter Parker is wrestling with the notion of asking Gwen Stacy to the winter formal. Thompson brings the aspects of Parker’s life into alignment and puts him in a team-up with Iron Man. After all, wouldn’t any awkward teenager want dating advice from a man who knows Tony Stark inside and out?
Thompson has fun balancing the secret life of Tony Stark and playing within the concept of a team-up where Iron Man realizes he might actually need help from a kid. This isn’t a full-blown re-do of Marvel Team-Up #9 (or #48, or #49, or #51, or, well, any of the eight times the two paired up in the original Marvel Team-Up) as the duo battle Vulture here, a foe they haven’t teamed up to take on before. Or, well, at least not in the pages of Marvel Team-Up.
Spider-Man and Iron Man have some fun, character-revealing moments in Spidey #6, but the timeline for the story is a bit slippery. As with the other issues of this series, Spidey #6 clearly takes place early in Spider-Man’s career, as Peter Parker is still in high school, but Iron Man’s armor is clunky and of an older fashion, almost like a cross between the Golden Avenger suit and the Mark IV suit from the comics. Perhaps the hang-up comes through due to André Lima Araújo’s style, which is distinct and detailed, but not quite ideal for this adventure.
As mentioned Araújo draws Iron Man somewhat thick, but parts of the armor aren’t quite as bulky. The chest piece is massive and barrel-shaped, but the mask leaves no room for a nose. The gauntlets, likewise, seem chunky, but the sleeves and leg pieces of the armor are ultra-sleek, as though Iron Man is wearing a spandex suit under the heavier bits of his armor. Araújo’s style is hit-and-miss throughout the issue. His sensibilities provide a nice homage to Steve Ditko’s take on the wallcrawler, but his panel construction is a bit too open for a Spider-Man comic. It works for the high school aspects of the tale, but when you have Spider-Man and Iron Man fighting the Vulture over and throughout New York, the panels simply lack the immediacy and inescapability inherent in so many Spider-Man stories. The final page of the issue is definitely the best of Araújo’s contributions to the action sequences though, as the foe is large and the fight set to be epic.
Spidey #6 isn’t the greatest Spider-Man story ever, but it isn’t trying to be. Thompson is clearly trying to give readers entertaining adventures from the early days of Peter Parker’s career as a crimefighter, without unnecessarily binding the adventures to any specific point in time. Sometimes, as in this issue, the best story to tell is one of Spider-Man’s interactions with other powered individuals. From the tease of Spidey #7‘s cover, it looks like Black Panther is going to appear, which should provide another fun team-up. That issue’s cover does not appear to be drawn by either Bradshaw or Araújo, so check back here to learn about the new art developments. This series had a different vibe and was more energetic with Bradshaw’s pencils, so, hopefully, next issue brings more detail and dynamism.
There are certainly worse things that could happen beyond transforming Spidey into a Marvel Team-Up revival, and even if it’s just for an issue or two (or three) that’s fine with me. To use an all-ages friendly comic as a platform to introduce newer readers to the grander Marvel Universe isn’t a bad idea at all. Thompson has a great handle on the voices of Peter Parker and Spider-Man, and this series has been entertaining. Adding more Marvel stars to the mix simply gives the creators and the readers more to look forward to.