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A Spider-Man Villain Retires to Become Iron Man's Newest Protege

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #10 from Tom Taylor, Ken Lashley, Scott Hanna, Luca Maresca, Nolan Woodard and VC's Travis Lanham. 

Marvel's Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man sheds more light into Peter Parker's side adventures outside of his mainstream title, as well as his never-ending side-missions with the Avengers. This time around, the book focuses on Pete's relationship with Hobie Brown, who donned the Prowler mask once more to try to help the poor and downtrodden.

However, with a Nazi parasite known as Helminth surfacing, New York has come under digital attack as the villain weaponized crowdfunding and basks in the glory of ruining innocent victims. Thankfully, Pete and Hobie save the day, which is made all the more sweet thanks to the latter retiring the Prowler costume to become Tony Stark's new protege.

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The last apprentice Iron Man had was Riri Williams, and she's done pretty well for herself with the Champions ever since. But it's different here, as Hobie isn't someone Stark seeks out -- in fact, they're only thrown together by the chaos Helminth is causing and Spidey's intuition and everlasting desire to unite like-minds for the greater good. Over the last couple issues, Hobie took back up the Prowler suit after turning to the light; something he wanted to do since he was introduced in the '60s by Stan Lee, John Buscema and John Romita, Jr. as a genius inventor whose suit is something between Spider-Man and Batman.

In this arc, Prowler steals money from Kingpin and uses a crowdfunding app called Fairgray Pay to try and get a sick friend funds for treatment. Sadly, the friend dies. As Hobie investigates, he finds out the money never reached that person and that Fairgray is corrupt and stealing money. This leads to a team up with Spidey and Marni/Rumor to infiltrate their corporate headquarters, which culminates in a battle with Helminth, someone who literally feeds off of people's energy by absorbing their misery and despair. The heroes are blindsided, though, and barely escape the first round. Sadly, when Pete seeks out Stark for help in the return bout, Prowler tries to go it solo and get revenge.

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He gets trapped at Fairgray's building once more, and when Helminth's about to devour Hobie's life essence for good, the wall-crawler saves the day, knocking Helminth out after an epic brawl. This paves the way for Iron Man to arrive on the scene and shut down Helminth's company, as Stark just became majority shareholder thanks to a buyout. It turns out Spidey got him to use his bank account and brains, not guns or his brawn, and with all of Stark's engineers, lawyers and accountants present, the company is now his. Thus, Stark vows to right the wrongs of Fairgray, and later on, he and Spidey ensure Hobie doesn't have to ever return to a life of crime.

Spidey pushes Stark to commit to social justice with his money, creating meaningful change, rather than slugging it out, and Stark wants to expand his crew. Throwing money doesn't solve everything but in this case, he knows it's better than fisticuffs and with a larger team, Fairgray's potential for good can be maximized. He eventually offers Hobie a job as his apprentice, as he wants to work with another stellar mind on this vision.

This app is but one of the big ideas planned, although we don't find out the rest. We do know Stark wants to change the system and with Hobie aiming to do the same, they make a good pair. They vow to create a movement on the ground, not just on a tech level, and as the webhead looks on, they seal the deal with a handshake, embracing the bright future ahead.

Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #11 goes on sale Aug. 28. 

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