When it was announced Marvel Comics would be dropping Miles Morales into his very own Clone Saga, many fans of the ’90s gasped audibly. The infamous storyline getting name-dropped and repurposed for such a beloved character who has so few bad storylines? Absurd. Although, with Saladin Ahmed writing, chances are it’ll all work out. And, it does!
Miles Morales Vol. 5 builds off the events of volume 4 which further proved Miles is a unique character with a strong family dynamic. Running a bit lengthier than a normal trade paperback — largely because this starts with a King in Black tie-in story — the “Clone Saga” storyline doesn’t actually start till Miles Morales Spider-Man #25. Issues #22-24 feature a lot of Ms. Marvel teaming up with Miles and fighting Symbiote dragons. It’s a fun time. Ahmed continues to build on the tight-knit and loving family dynamic Miles has, which is honestly one of the most wholesome and realistic feelings in all comics. Natasha Bustos gives the first issue collected in the book a youthful feel that suits these characters.
When the “Clone Saga” starts, casual fans will notice Miles isn’t up against just one clone, but multiple and some with some incredible powers. It opens with Miles Morales very stressed out about this clone threat, but he has the comfort of his family who fully backs him. Ganke is there too, and things seem to be going well for Miles resolving this clone thing. What makes this opening issue and the story arc as a whole work is a doubt Ahmed gives Miles Morales. You can see in the preview — Miles is unsure of his own actions and anger, which plays into others distrusting him since he wears the same suit as the clone. It also helps convince us Spider-Man would fight him even though they’re like brothers.
Given a clone can make heroes do crazy things, doubt themselves, and even question their own identity, that gives this issue has an interesting atmosphere. Ahmed and artist Carmen Carnero stuff the book with action too, but there’s plenty of quiet time between the action to give everything weight and realism. That helps when clones show up doing some incredibly inhuman things. All told, the story wraps up well enough with an open-ended turn for our main villain and natural addition to the Morales family.
Carnero, who draws the majority of the issues in this collection along with color artist David Curiel, do well to capture the weight on these characters’ shoulders. You get that from entire panels of Miles Morales’ dad, devoid of background, as he speaks on an issue. What he’s saying matters, and the layout design isn’t skipping through or moving too quickly past these moments to get to the action. When the action does happen, it looks great. Just look at Spider-Man’s foot above, as it streaks across the page kicking Miles on the chin. The choreography on the very next page, also in the preview, conveys the athleticism and moves of each character well.
This collection also has the backup by Cody Ziglar and Natacha Bustos that was originally at the end of Miles Morales: Spider-Man #25. It’s cool to read this knowing Ziglar is now one of the main writers on Amazing Spider-Man, featuring a relatable story as Miles is late for a party, but must fight a new villain who has a silly twist. Rachelle Rosenberg gives the book a warm feel, set at sunset, that suits Bustos’ cartoony YA look. Props must go to Ziglar, who writes dialogue that’s filled with realism. There’s a bit of slang, a casual feel, and a youthfulness that suits Miles. He doesn’t speak like this in the main book, but it fits in with the vibe of the character very well. This story is self-contained enough to feel satisfying once it’s over, even if it’s not connected to the main book. This backup also works as far as reminding us Miles Morales’ adventures are meant for a younger audience too.
Miles Morales: Spider-Man Vol. 5 is an entertaining read that will make you a believer in a new Clone Saga story arc. You may rightly still have reservations, but it’s clear Ahmed and Carnero have a good handle on pace and plotting, keeping the story relevant, grounded, and complex.
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