Brian Michael Bendis and Sara Pichelli’s original Spider-Men was great, and the first issue of Spider-Men II indicated that they might be able to live up to the hype surrounding it. However, despite being an entertaining issue, Spider-Men II #2 makes a lot missteps that hurt the book as a whole.
What Happened This Issue?
At the end of the previous issue, Taskmaster came through the portal that, in the original Spider-Men, brought Peter Parker to the Ultimate Universe. Spider-Men II #2 follows Miles Morales and Peter as they fight Taskmaster. During the fight, Miles overhears Taskmaster say he is working with someone else named “Miles Morales,” leading to an investigation into the Earth-616 Miles and his fate.
What’s Good About It?
Miles and Peter’s banter continues to be fantastic, and it’s great seeing both characters bring their wit and humor to the issue. While there are some problems with the plot, their dialogue is still one of the high points.
Probably the best thing about the entire issue is the short appearance of Jessica Jones. The banter between Jones and the two Spider-Men is also fantastic, with Miles seemingly knowing her better than Peter — her former classmate. While contributing to the idea that there’s no information on Earth-616’s Miles, the scene also offers a bit of comic relief.
Pichelli’s artwork is still excellent, and she does an excellent job of rendering the battle between Taskmaster and the Spider-Men, giving the whole battle a cinematic feel through her use of cuts. However, Pichelli’s best contribution comes in rendering Jones’s investigation. She captures many different aspects of Jones’s character, from brawler to caregiver. As the entire sequence is silent, the art especially stands out and carries the bulk of the narrative weight in a satisfying way.
What’s Wrong With It?
While Spider-Men II #1 was a great setup, the plotting in its sequel is a lot messier. One of the most perfidious instances comes early on when Miles overhears Taskmaster loudly declaring the full name of the person he’s working with, which is — of course — the other Miles. It’s incredibly convenient that Taskmaster not only says his employer’s full name in earshot of Miles, and it feels like a lazy way to introduce the Spider-Men’s investigation.
I’m also a bit disappointed with, seemingly, the revelation that Peter came up with nothing when searching for information about Miles at the end of Spider-Men. While I’m still hoping that there’s something else at play here, Jones’s search seems to turn up the same lack of results, and so does Miles’s own search. I find this frustrating because of that iconic “Oh My God” from the end of Spider-Men, which makes it seem like Peter found something horrible out about Miles. If Peter is lying, Jones’s and Miles’s failures won’t make much sense; if he’s telling the truth, the end of Spider-Men doesn’t really make much sense.
It’s also somewhat confusing that Peter indeed came up with nothing in searching for Miles. There are a lot of reasons this might happen, but it makes that “Oh My God” from the end of the original Spider-Men seem disingenuous. There are certainly a lot of other explanations, including the idea that Peter is lying, which would be great. However, the non-existence of the original Miles is seemingly reinforced when Jessica Jones is also unable to find information, and there’s no indication that Miles finds any when he’s “starkle”-ing himself.
There’s also the issue of “starkle”-ing something. Peter tells Miles to “starkle” himself, and Miles makes the same reference later. I can’t figure out if this verb has actually ever been used in comics before, but there’s always a chance I’m just not enough of a super-fan to know. However, the recap page for the original Spider-Men, which shows Peter making his search, shows that he’s using Gùggle. Why not just stick with that rather than creating a truly bizarre inconsistency for the purpose of making a joke?
Is It Good?
Spider-Men II #2 has a lot of narrative problems, though it’s still an overall entertaining book. However, this issue is certainly on shaky ground. While I’m still not worried for the series as a whole, but there are a lot of missteps in Spider-Men II #2.
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