Miles Morales may be one of the most interesting characters in Marvel Comics today. Think about it, he just had a feature film that blew everyone away, he’s from an alternate reality, and he has a unique set of powers. He also has a new series with Saladin Ahmed and Javier Garron pulling out all the stops to blow us away every issue. The first six issues were recently collected and in them, there are team-ups, one-shot tales, and even new characters introduced!
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
Miles Morales swings back into the spotlight! Balancing a normal life, school, friends, family and super-heroing has never been easy for Miles, but when the rampaging Rhino and a cadre of mysterious criminals start plaguing Brooklyn, things take a dark turn for the young Spider-Man! And Miles doesn’t even know the half of it yet. What mystery lurks under the surface of this newest villainous uprising? Eisner Award-winner Saladin Ahmed (BLACK BOLT) and Young Gun Javier Garrón (ANT-MAN & THE WASP) bring you the latest and greatest adventures of the coolest character in the Marvel Universe!
Why does this matter?
If you aren’t on board with Ahmed writing this series you haven’t read Black Bolt. Or Exiles for that matter. His pacing is good, the character writing tops, and his ability to draw you in exceptional. He’s the right man for the job. Not to discount the artists — more on that later — but the key to a solid Spider-Man book is inner turmoil and personality that is easy to glean even through the mask. Ahmed is capable of that and more.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
Ahmed and Garron effectively deliver a near-flawless introduction to a new direction for Miles Morales. The book bounces around revealing Miles’ status with friendships, family, and love life all while he attends boarding school. It catches you up to speed and details with each relationship how things can be difficult. Case in point, Ganke is his best bud, but not his only buddy as he does keep track of the news to get Miles in gear for Spidey adventures. It’s also made very clear Miles is balancing his friends and family along with sleep. Like any kid in boarding school getting sleep is hard, but for Miles it’s even worse. That thoroughly grounds the book and makes this a comic I suspect high school-age kids or those who went through college will relate to. That’s key to making this book accessible to readers.
The first three issues offer a fun team-up with Rhino which also features Captain America popping in. Ahmed delves into the multiplicity required of Miles to maintain a school life, be a superhero, and be a friend. It’s an element that made the classic Spider-Man series so good and it works well here. You can’t be Spider-Man without lack of sleep, an unending desire to help others, and the stubbornness to never give up. You see that in a well-written montage of Miles attempting to get through classes. The writing of Rhino is also on point and it’s a nice reminder Ahmed is very good at humanizing villains.
Following these first few issues is the fourth issue which I positively loved. It’s not certain, but I think it’s a great homage to Ferris Bueller’s Day off (one of my favorite films). In this one-shot of sorts, Miles and his friends play hooky from school and pretend to be sick. The principal knows Miles is up to no good, even though generally he isn’t, and has a personal vendetta against him. Miles and his friends run into weird mishaps along the way requiring Miles to go full Spider-Man to save the day, but they still manage to get to the museum and have other fun adventures. Ahmed is clearly doing a J. Jonah Jameson thing with the principal which works really well too.
Wrapping things up is a quick two-issue arc with a new character known as Starling. She’s got a red costume and wings, not unlike Vulture. She’s also willing to severely hurt criminals if they get in her way and she has a vendetta of her own against Tombstone. The dynamic between her and Miles is strong and it’ll be fun to see how they bounce off each other in future issues.
Garron draws all six issues with color by David Curiel and letters by VC’s Cory Petit and it all looks so damn sharp and shiny. Seriously, Miles’ costume has a shiny look to it that makes it really pop and look realistic. There are clever layout choices throughout and without a doubt this book reads like a primo title due to the art team doing such a great job.
It can’t be perfect, can it?
It takes a bit for the book to really get its groove. The first issue lacks action and the second bides its time to get the Rhino/Miles relationship off the ground. Pacing wise the book definitely doesn’t have a conventional feel with a three-issue arc ending, a one-shot, and then a two-issue arc closing things out. Taken all at once, there seem to be new storylines being created but not followed through on as of yet. I’m still trying to figure out if this is a good thing, but it’s hard to say without knowing if things will pay off later.
Is it good?
This is a strong, layered, and highly relatable Spider-Man you can’t miss.
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