WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #5 by Tom Taylor, Yildiray Cinar, Nolan Woodard, and VC's Travis Lanham, on sale now.
Aunt May has been a bedrock in Peter Parker's life and, honestly, his biggest hero. That's quite a boast given he spends a lot of his time with gods and super-soldiers. But May is a cornerstone of his mythos, representing the heart, soul and humanity of so many stories.
That's why readers were shocked to learn she might have breast cancer, which she finally worked up the courage to tell Peter. And when she does, it stuns him so badly he reacts to it in the worst way possible, before thankfully going on to make amends.
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Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #5 doesn't beat around the bush as it opens up with Peter finding out the secret between issues. He's trying to process it, not even comprehending how May is putting on a brave face. It's that kind of behavior that inspires him every day, and it's also what makes her so invaluable , so much so he traded his marriage to Mephisto in "One More Day" to save her life.
But rather than reciprocate the bravery, Peter turns out to be a coward, ducking her invitation to accompany her to chemotherapy the next day. Now, we're not judging him too harshly, because people react in different way to bad news; in this case, Pete's a bit selfish simply because he's scared. May understands, however, as he comes up with excuses not to be there. He then turns to the one thing that can take his mind off the news: web-slinging around New York, only it doesn't go according to plan.
Spider-Man ends up confronting a teen who stole a car, and breaks his hand in the process. It's not typical Pete, but he didn't realize how much power he was exerting when he apprehended the boy, Miguel. His grief quickly translated to anger, and he inadvertently took it out on the kid, similar to when he found out Uncle Ben died. Recognizing he's not dealing with the stress properly, the wall-crawler takes the boy to Doctor Strange to heal, as he isn't medically covered and also, to avoid him taking the rap for the felony. Pete is trying to cover up the car theft as he feels sorry for Miguel, who was fleeing an abusive home.
As Pete and Strange speak about what's bothering the Avenger, it becomes clear Pete is so desperate he's considering some other means of helping May -- be it science or magic. Strange cautions that such deals are dangerous and filled with consequences (even cheekily nodding to the Mephisto drama). He reminds Peter this happens in life, and mortality is something everyone has to deal with. Understanding he can't avoid this any longer, Pete finally does the right thing.
When May goes for treatment, Pete surprises her with coffee, crosswords and magazines to help her pass the time, as he researched and found out that chemo is boring. Those were all things she enjoyed with Uncle Ben, and what makes it all the more endearing is the nurse registers Peter as her son. It's a sentimental moment and goes a long way to making up for his previous actions. After all, May's been a mother to him, and we forgive Spidey for being afraid, and having his judgment clouded when it comes to the woman who means the world to him.
Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #6 goes on sale May 8.