Bryan Edward Hill gets his first crack at Spider-Man this week in the Spider-Man Annual focusing on Miles Morales. Aided by artists Mark Bagley, Nelson Black II, and Alitha E. Martinez this team reveals a key moment in Miles’ earlier days that sticks with him. Plus it’s all bookended with a Morbius fight!
So what’s it about?
Read the preview.
Why does this matter?
The worldview of a superhero is important. It not only dictates how they’ll act but gets us inside their head. In this annual, the creative team explores a teachable moment for Miles which adds up to who he is in the present.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
This issue opens with Miles getting beat down by Morbius. He’s losing this fight and his thoughts aren’t helping him. Hill probes Mile’s thoughts via the captions and they’re all about how nobody will help you but yourself; that the system is broken and you should only look out for yourself. It’s a thinking process that’s in no way one a superhero should have. Much of the issue is about Mile’s interaction with his uncle (who if you don’t know is a criminal on the side) and the interactions he has with a classmate. As the story plays out Miles needs to come to a decision on his own and, unfortunately for him, tragedy is required for the lesson to sink in.
There’s some interesting social context underneath the surface of this issue. There’s the notion of the uncle and how you should look out for yourself and in another aspect the unfair nature of how the world works. We see this through a classmate who is kind, but he’s a trust fund kid who doesn’t have to worry about money. Hill is clearly making a connection between a trust fund kid’s wealth and the wealth one might acquire through nefarious acts of an uncle. It’s through these that Hill probes Miles’ morals and ultimately develop the character.
The art by the team is quite good with Bagley’s customary detailed superhero art and Nelson Black II and Alitha E. Martinez’ well drawn realistic faces. Colorist Carlos Lopez pulls it all together, making the change in artist less noticeable. There’s some great superhero fighting going on that is choreographed well and an excellent near full page spread of a superhero appearance that does its job showing off how impressive A-lister superheroes can be.
It can’t be perfect can it?
As is customary with a lot of annuals this book reads as if it could have been cut down a few pages. I had the same issue with the recent X-Men Gold Annual #2. The pace seems a tad off.
Something else of note is the tragedy that occurs in this issue. What happens is awful, but there’s not much development from this point. I’m not sure the death adds much to the narrative except for raising the drama to an 11. On some level, Gank is at fault for helping orchestrate the plan that got these kids to the location of the tragedy though he, of course, didn’t know a supervillain was going to attack.
Is it good?
I liked this issue for what it represents in Miles’ journey as a hero. Hill and company have crafted a story that feels meaningful, capturing a moment of learning for the young hero that develops the character well.