Back in 2012, Brian Michael Bendis, Sara Pichelli and Justin Ponsor came together to create Spider-Men, a mini-series that saw Earth-616’s Peter Parker journey to the Ultimate Universe. While there, he met Miles Morales, who had taken up the wall-crawler’s mantle after Norman Osborn killed his universe’s Peter. What followed was an emotionally powerful story that saw Peter explore the effect his death had on his friends and family. At the end of that tale, Peter gave his blessing to Miles. Spider-Men II is the follow-up to that story and an absolute must-read for anyone who enjoyed Spider-Men.
What is Spider-Men?
Spider-Men II #1 starts with a teaser: Miles and Peter are bound together as an unclear character flees in an airplane. Right from the first lines, the tension between the two is palpable, as they appear to resent each other for some reason unknown to the reader.
The story then jumps back in time to Miles and Peter doing their daily routines. While Peter is fighting and cracking wise about the villain Armadillo, Miles is at school flirting with a girl named Barbara. After a robot crashes in the schoolyard, Miles and Peter unite to find out what’s causing all of the trouble, which brings them to the place where Peter slipped into the Ultimate Universe back in Spider-Men.
What’s Good About It?
Bendis’ ability to craft great dialogue comes through in Spider-Men II #1. The contrast between Peter and Miles’ banter as they head to the portal versus it in the teaser is apparent, and it foreshadows the collapse of their relationship really well. Although the two are friends at the chronological start of the comic, by the time they reach the teaser they’ll be bitter and disillusioned. If the original Spider-Men was about Peter and Miles building a relationship, Spider-Men II appears to be about that relationship collapsing. That premise is intriguing, and Bendis does a great job of building suspense about how the two will reach that point.
There’s also a noteworthy moment right after the two meet up in which Peter has an excessively long speech bubble that makes a tongue-in-cheek reference to how confusing post-Secret Wars Marvel can be. The line serves as a somewhat more explicit recap than the splash page and is a good idea considering how confusing the entire history of Spider-Men can be for the uninitiated. Even though the actual amount Peter talks is a bit excessive, it’s a good recap nonetheless.
The choice to use Pichelli and Ponsor on art really helps connect the new series to its predecessor. It was by no means necessary to have the two immensely talented artists return but doing so helps Spider-Men II bridge the five-year-gap between the two installments. The visual continuity helps this follow-up to feel like an extension of the original story rather than a spin-off or cheap imitation, which can only help set up the contrast between the two series’ depiction of Miles and Peter’s relationship.
What’s Wrong With It?
The comic is almost perfect, but the introduction of Barbara — classmate who Miles has somehow never seen before — feels a bit forced. I assume that she’ll end up factoring into the overall plot in some important way, but it seems weird to introduce her as having been too plain for Miles to notice before. It makes her feel like an afterthought to Miles’ existence and shoved into the story. If for some reason she doesn’t factor into the story or into Miles’ life going forward, then the amount of time spent on her will have been a waste.
Is It Good?
Spider-Men II #1 is an intriguing book, with the questions of how the portal to the Ultimate Universe and the fate of Earth-616’s Miles Morales featuring heavily. There’s also the matter raised by the teaser of the inevitable falling out between Miles and Peter. Although it may not have many answers right now, the comic does raise a lot of questions, which it seems to be promising to answer. Spider-Men II feels like the start of something special, so I’m excited to see where it goes.