In comic shops this week you can own the very last Miles Morales written trade paperback written by Brian Michael Bendis. The character is one of the best new characters to enter the MCU and he’s clearly going nowhere. In this final volume Bendis explores Miles’ new powers, Gank’s complicated new girlfriend, and more.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
The Sinister Six reborn! Miles Morales’ world has been shaken up lately, but nothing compares to what the mysterious Iron Spider and his new group of super villains are about to do. Sandman, Hobgoblin, the Spot, Electro and Bombshell(?!) have united – to make Spider-Man’s life a living hell! And unfortunately for those closest to our hero, it’s not just his life that’s going to get obliterated. Miles’ friend Lana has been through so much and grown into a hero. But with her mother, Bombshell, on the Sinister Six, things look set to blow up for her – in a bad way! Miles faces his greatest challenge yet – as writer Brian Michael Bendis bids a fond farewell to one of his most beloved creations! What legacy will he leave for Miles Morales, Spider-Man?
Why does this matter?
In a slight surprise, this trade paperback contains seven issues, which is a lot considering most contain five these days. It also finishes off Bendis’s excellent run on the character. It has been one of the most realistic depictions of a teenager gaining superpowers in some time.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
I’d love to know at what point Bendis knew he was leaving for DC Comics. It’s something that matters because he seems to be setting things up for another arc after this one, but as we all know the character is in another creator’s hands now. That’s what keeps this story fresh and moving forward when most comic characters created by writers would get the farewell treatment. The big thrust of this premise revolves around Miles’s uncle who comes back from the dead to take on a new score. He wants to steal a helicarrier, but we all know Miles won’t allow it.
At the same time, Miles learns he has new powers that connect to his Venom Blast powers, which come in handy now that he no longer has web shooters. This new power is quite inventive and it’ll be interesting to see if other writers further develop it. He’s basically got energy webs and doesn’t need web shooters at all. That power is used in inventive ways during the battle a few times and artist Oscar Basaldua does a good job keeping it looking interesting.
There are other elements you just know Bendis would have carried forward in the next arc, which makes this volume somewhat bittersweet. Take for instance Gank’s new girlfriend. Her role as a Spider-Man blogger could be very interesting in the next arc due to something she learns here. Or in another instance, Bendis is clearly grooming Miles for a new superhero team which appears to involve Cable as the leader. There are dynamics at play that could be hugely popular if done right.
It can’t be perfect can it?
There are portions of this volume that move very slowly. A good example of this is the first issue collected here which progresses the villain’s plot and casts some doubt in Miles, but that’s about it. To make matters worse, Miles’s doubt in being Spider-Man is abandoned rather quickly which further makes this element of the story seem pointless. Maybe this is a sign Bendis became aware he was moving on since the abrupt switch of Miles doubting his role as a hero is unnatural and jarring.
The dialogue is overall good, but there are a few scenes that drag on for pages upon pages seemingly going nowhere. Bendis is very good at delivering character work within the dialogue, but there are at least two instances in this volume where you could read the first few lines of dialogue, turn three pages, and read the last bit of the conversation and still understand what is going on.
Is it good?
I wasn’t sure what I was getting into reading Bendis’ last Miles Morales scripts, but I was pleasantly surprised to find a coherent and strong story. There’s a lot of inventiveness afoot here, which makes me wonder if Bendis was laying out the groundwork for what comes next to help any future writers pick up where he left off. That’s an exciting element and it makes his farewell feel fresh and new rather than a goodbye.
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