Miles Morales had one hell of a start at being a superhero. Conventionally superheroes get to take on some petty crimes, ease into fighting supervillains, and generally get their bearings. Not so with Miles, who in this collection faces supervillain Scorpion, gets yelled at by Captain America, and fights in a Hydra vs. America civil war. And that’s just the first half of this book! It’s a new modern take on the super-hero’s journey.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
Nick Fury has declared Miles Morales a super hero; now, it’s time for that super-hero rite of passage: the team-up! But the new Spider-Man’s first team-up couldn’t possibly be with the Prowler, could it? It will be if it’s up to Miles’ Uncle Aaron, who’s not above resorting to threats to get his way. But Miles isn’t going to take such manipulation lying down, setting up a titanic battle of wills between uncle and nephew – with the Scorpion caught in the middle! Miles Morales has the powers. He has the costume. Now, he even has the web-shooters. With aid from Peter’s former girlfriends, Gwen Stacy and Mary Jane Watson, Miles confronts the dark side of the Parker legacy. And as his life is turned upside down once again, he learns that – for Spider-Man – with great power there also comes great tragedy.
Why does this matter?
This book is the follow up to Miles Morales: Spider-Man and similarly this is a slightly smaller almost digest-sized reprinting of Brian Michael Bendis’ run on the character. This book collects Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #11 to #22 with issue #16.1 thrown in too. If you’re catching up on Miles’ journey this and the first volume are a great way to dive in.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
This is a dense read, maybe even denser than the first volume. Miles is trying to figure out this whole superhero thing with Ganke on his side as his greatest cheerleader. It’s a realistic sort of take on how any one of us would ease into the superhero lifestyle at 13 years old. That includes characters like Captain America who, still reeling from Peter Parker’s death, attempt to dissuade Miles from being a hero at all. Bendis has a strong take on this character never letting us forget this is about Miles doing what he thinks is right rather than following in anyone’s footsteps. It’s a narrative that could have easily fallen into a standard form, but the book throws so many surprises at you you’ll be excited just to keep up.
The book is balanced well with Prowler taking up the first quarter, a civil war kicking into high gear midway through, and Miles’ identity being put in danger as Venom enters the fray. The middle portion of this book focuses on Spidey fighting in a civil war against Hydra which is a dramatic turn you don’t normally see in serial storytelling. It’s another example of Bendis getting to do whatever he likes in his own corner. I was unfamiliar with the larger story in the Ultimate universe which involved huge unrest across the States. This means sneak attacks on New York, Miles’ dad rising up to be a hero in his own right, and the ramifications of a war happening all around us. Seeing Spidey fight a giant-sized woman is a big highlight of this book since it showcases a confrontation you or Miles won’t see coming.
The art by David Marquez, Pepe Larraz, and Sara Pichelli is strong throughout. It’s quite something to see these now all-star artists working on this series since each of them is working on the biggest books in comics. Their work here is obviously slightly less impressive as it is today and it’s a reminder we all start somewhere. Their work here is at times stunning though and the realistic look of their pencils keeps this book grounded from the small moments to the larger than life ones.
It can’t be perfect, can it?
The last quarter of the book is somewhat strange since it appears to have forgotten Miles was on the Ultimates midway through the book. Unless it just wasn’t articulated the events occur before the civil war sequence it appears the cops still think Miles is a menace. You’d think now that Captain America is president, and that Miles saves his life on TV, the world would see Spider-Man as a hero. It’s a tonal shift that will throw you for a loop.
Is it good?
It’s a treat to read this series again and relive the fantastical moments of a kid superhero growing into their role. The book is filled with surprising twists, dramatic beats, and excellent action.