Back in print is the first official crossover between Miles Morales and Spider-Gwen, going by the title “Sitting in a Tree.” Now in a smaller-sized format for smaller hands, this collection is called The Avenging Avenger, possibly due to Miles’ turn as an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. early on in the collection. In a story that includes a huge smooch and Spider-Gwen, can the story go wrong?
This collection features Spider-Man (2016) #12-19 and Spider-Gwen (2015B) #16-18. Most of the collection is the crossover event spanning six issues, opening with Spider-Gwen and Miles kissing. We soon learn how he gets to Spider-Gwen’s universe as it’s revealed Miles’ dad is an agent for S.H.I.E.L.D. and zipped over to that dimension.
Brian Michael Bendis writes the issues of Spider-Man, opening with a moment later in the story and then having Miles tell his friends all about it in the present. This allows Bendis to recap a whole bunch of details, making this a fairly easy trade paperback to pick up and understand. That is if you like lots of exposition, but thankfully that’s only the first issue.
Bendis continues to write Miles well, leaning into his teenager as he’s happy to tell Ganke and Fabio about his adventure with Gwen since it results in him possibly dating someone. Customary of Bendis’ books, the captions are where the writing really zips, going back and forth between Miles and Ganke and feeling true to each character. The art by Sarah Pichelli is hyper-detailed and is as strong as any superhero comic today.
Jason Latour writes the Spider-Gwen issues with art by Robbi Rodriguez. This collaboration featured a graffiti-infused feel to the visuals, which works since the story is set in an entirely different dimension. The colors by Rico Renzi are fabulous, and the action feels intense and easy to follow simultaneously.
As far as stories, it’s a lighthearted sort of crossover. The Spider-Verse plays an interesting part here or there. You’ll spot Spider-Man Noir, for instance, but that’s more to show us how Miles’ first experience with jumping across the multiverse is felt. Ultimately this story feels like a longwinded way of showing us his father is in deep as an agent while integrating Miles into the multiverse shenanigans.
The last third of this collection collects Spider-Man #15-19, which highlights Miles’ mom finding out her son is Spider-Man, looping in his universe version of Black Cat and Hammerhead, and giving Ganke a love interest. Of course, his love interest is a superhero named Bombshell, and things get complicated. Ultimately this chunk of the story gets comfortable with the new status quo of Miles’ parents knowing he’s a superhero while having him deal with some rather violent types like Hammerhead. There are a lot of moving parts in this part of the story, however, never really a central focus or feeling like we’re progressing towards something.
Art in this section is covered by Szymon Kudranski and then Jan Bazaldua. Both supply strong art styles, with Kudranski’s leaning into the darker tones and Bazaldua’s looking as good as any superhero story today. There’s a reason almost every artist who worked on Spider-Man with Brian Michael Bendis still works in superhero comics today!
If you’re collecting Miles Morales in the new format, you’ll likely purchase Miles Morales: The Avenging Avenger! anyway, but this collection feels like a messier chapter in the incredible series. That’s partly due to the crossover that feels overly long and forced but also because this trade paperback houses the start of a new era for Miles. No longer is his identity a secret from his parents, which is something that continues to this day, making him unique compared to most younger superheroes.
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