It’s nice to know Miles Morales is back at it after nearly four months since the last issue. This week, Saladin Ahmed and Carmen Carnero drop us into a world where it’s illegal to be a teen superhero. That doesn’t stop Spider-Man in the opening of issue #17, though, when he swings around the city for a pre-school workout.
This issue splits up nicely in three parts with the opening focusing on Miles handling a kid who was bullied. It’s a nice reminder Miles doesn’t just punch out bad guys, but serves as a good role model and big brother to those in need. It’s also a cool way to connect the character to the streets helping anyone in need. By showing Spider-Man tackle a minor problem with all his energy and confidence, Ahmed and Carnero show us the heroism in Miles goes as deep as his bones.
The second portion deals with the C.R.A.D.L.E. response to teen heroes. There’s a confrontation that plays against expectations well. It also serves as a means to show a side of Miles that makes him different than most. It also sets up some retribution for later when Miles’ cockiness will likely get the better of him. Props to Miles for calling them, fascists. I’m sure that’ll get a cheer out of most readers.
Wrapping up the book are some key family-friendly moments, and that goes for Miles’ parents but also his best friend. At its core this book continues to show us Ahmed has a great handle on this character, never forgetting an aspect of the his life that makes him stand out from a conventional hero. The cliffhanger certainly will resonate with longtime Spider-Man fans — a cold sweat may take you over — but the handling of the character is so strong I’m fairly confident it’ll all play out nicely.
Unfortunately, the gap paired with the somewhat vague notion of C.R.A.D.L.E., the “Outlawed” story, and the Iron Man 2020 stuff make it hard to gather where we’re at in the Marvel universe as far as rules and importance of things. The pandemic broke up a mini-event with Iron Man 2020 that appears to be somewhat inconsequential, which makes caring about the plot hanging over Miles being an illegal hero confusing. Is it a reflection on our real-world government’s treatment of immigrants, is it a message about the responsibility of adults to keep young adults in line, or is it a minor conflict that’ll pass? It’s hard to gauge since titles are coming out in small batches.
This is a good issue and a nice return for Miles Morales after the pandemic gap with no new comics. This issue balances action, heroism, and family in a way that proves this is a complex hero with a complex approach to heroism.