In a world where Steve Rogers gave his life to save the world, Miles Morales became the next hero to take on the mantle of the Sentinel of Liberty! Here are my spoiler-free thoughts on Cody Ziglar and Paco Medina’s debut trip into the new Miles-Verse.
The issue starts off with a compact telling of this Miles’ origin story, which is a bit of a rollercoaster ride. Due to the very nature of this story — which aims to build out a whole world of Captain America adventures we haven’t gotten to read — it has to hit all the high points and emotional beats of this universe’s Cap. In doing so, it feels a teensy bit rushed, but it also manages to feel impactful and sets up the rest of the story very well. Of course, readers are already predisposed to root for Miles, so getting a quick rundown of how this version differs from the 616 take helps to set the tone and give us a feel for the story’s stakes.
One of the most notable things right off the bat is how this story is framed. Much like other recent What If…? books, like Spider’s Shadow, this take on the concept does away with the Watcher’s endless narration and instead allows the characters themselves the chance to catch readers up on this unexpected status quo. Secondly, this story doesn’t spring out of a single point of divergence, but rather presents a wholly different world in the multiverse, one where Miles and his recognizable supporting cast have developed in ways that mirror Cap’s rogues gallery and friendships in clever ways.
This is one of the issue’s biggest storytelling strengths, particularly when considering its brevity: Re-framing some of Steve Rogers’s greatest victories and hardest losses using characters and events from Miles’s history both adds emotional weight to a new version of the character and allows Ziglar to draw some truly interesting parallels between the two heroes as we know them.
Ziglar also brings his knack for snappy dialogue to this story, giving us a Captain America who has no problem speaking truth to power and taking the piss out of his enemies. I’d gladly read a whole series about this version of Cap talking absolute trash about every Nazi in earshot. Without getting into specifics, the action is a lot of fun as well, and Medina is clearly enjoying taking classic designs and giving them a modern edge. Every redesign makes sense for the character wearing it. Medina also delivers some wonderfully sincere acting moments between the characters, especially when certain revelations come to light. Even though we’ve only gotten one issue in this world, there’s so much history packed into every glance, every hand on a shoulder.
And somehow, even though the story plays off of major elements of two different characters, this issue doesn’t fall into any major traps of familiarity. There are certain reveals and big character moments that you may see coming simply if you’re a fan of Miles’ 616 history, but it’s still an undeniably fun ride and feels like a fresh approach to the What If…? concept. The issue also sets up a fascinating through-line for the rest of this miniseries, which I can’t wait to see play out.
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