Saladin Ahmed has made Miles Morales incredibly exciting to read since taking over. The character was in a strange place before he jumped on board in part because of the whole alternate dimension thing. He’s in the 616 now though and judging by the latest collection he’s attempting to get Miles’ supporting cast in the right place for maximum drama and maximum fun. That includes his uncle Aaron being an ally once again–last we saw him he was fighting Miles in a Iron Man built Iron Spider suit–his parents relatively being in a good place to support him, and the family unit is a strong source of strength for Miles.
Reading this book brings back some heavy Brian Michael Bendis vibes. That includes the incredible cliffhanger you won’t see coming, but also how Miles is turning to uncle Aaron again for the support and how we see Miles’ parents love is as strong as ever. The first issue does a lot of heavy lifting to remind us of these key cornerstones in Miles’ life before throwing him into a very scary horror movie-style danger. That heavy lifting pays off when Miles can’t save himself and the family has to get in gear to do it themselves. Yes, it’s a bit weird nobody thought to ask a superhero for help, but it’s empowering to see Miles has close family that will suit up if need be to save their superhero son.
The horror movie stuff in this collection truly is scary. Miles is kidnapped by a villain we’ve never seen before, tested and tortured to see where his limits are, and given a point-blank explanation he and his family will be killed when they are done. It’s scary, made even more frightening in how Javier Garron and color artist David Curiel depict the strapped down Miles. Using much thicker black gutters the creative team makes for a claustrophobic experience. Miles is also in great pain, with snot coming out of his nose and great hurt in his expressions. You will cringe reading this. If the point was to show how powerless Miles is the creative team has done their job.
Following the incredibly powerful first three issues is a birthday issue for Miles which perfectly sets up some Ultimate universe dangers for the next story arc. It’s a good done in one too, as it lets Miles’ father have a good chat with the character as well as get a bit warm and fuzzy with Miles’ family who sing happy birthday twice! Following this is a fun “The Secret Origin of Starling” with great art from Annie Wu. It’s a nice place to start if you’re unfamiliar with this new character. Then to cap off the book is Ahmed and Cory Smith’s Free Comic Book Day story. It focuses on Miles and Peter’s obsession with their favorite pizza places. Cory Smith draws a good issue here with a strong focus on costume detailing. The age-old question of where the best pizza in New York is taken up and both Miles and Peter are quite passionate about it. This is a story that reminds us they may be superheroes, but they’re just like us.
This is a great collection if you’re raring to jump on board with the character. It does well to establish the new status quo amongst his family while setting up the next big adventure.
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