The new Miles Morales led Spider-Man book continues on and once more it proves to be a breath of fresh air. In many ways it is more akin to a soap opera than it is an action flick but this may be the only time that is actually meant as a compliment.
So yes, if you’re looking for something that treats you a plethora of fight scenes and maybe a few explosions thrown in for good measure then you’re probably not going to care all that much for this comic. If, however, you are more of a fan of well told, down to earth stories then this is the book for you. That’s not to say that high octane titles can’t be well crafted too it is just that they are very rarely as enthralling as Spider-Man is proving to be thus far in its run.
With Peter Parker off jet-setting and making waves on a global level there was a gap left in the market for a more down to earth Spider. That is exactly what Brian Michael Bendis has gifted the Marvel universe with Morales and Co. and it is going a long way to proving the Spider-Man really works better when it is much smaller in focus. The joke about the movies is that Parker always seems to be the high school nerd whenever you are reintroduced to him but the truth is that that is when he’s most relatable and as such most enjoyable as a character. Miles has now taken up that exact mantle and the teen drama that accompanies it is being handled beautifully.
This issue saw Miles return home to find his Grandma waiting for him, ready to berate him about his slipping grades. The character of his Nan is crafted with the perfect blend of humour and outright monstrousness. She is not a woman who you would want to run afoul of and she provides a very different type of antagonist for Miles to overcome. It is quite amusing to see such a powerful hero brought down by a stern old woman but it also reinforces the idea that Miles is very much a superhero in training and has a long maturation period ahead of him.
The Nan crosses the line constantly in her near psychotic approach to dealing with the apparently wayward teen. From the relatively minor act of confiscating his phone to her unwavering insistence that he is either on drugs or is a drug dealer, she manages to be more irritating and effective a villain than most super-powered foes ever do. She also adds further to the potentially very interesting family dynamic in the Morales household as she emasculates Miles’ father. This does two things as it shows Miles to be ashamed of his father for not holding his own against the battle axe of a woman, something that should develop as a theme as time goes by. It also builds the character of Miles’ father up as well as it is made cannon that he is a former gangster with a murky family and possibly an even murkier past. Fans should expect that to be revisited a little further down the line as it would provide some excellent internal conflict for Spidey should he find himself at odds with his own father. A way to achieve that showdown may already have been provided though it is unlikely to be seized upon.
Black Cat follows on from her appearance at the end of last month’s issue by recruiting the help of Hammerhead to take out the new Spider-Man. Now, Hammerhead is far from the most useful of allies and it is obvious from the outset that he won’t be the biggest thorn in the side of Spidey but the door is opened for Miles’ former criminal father to return to a life of crime and maybe even take up arms against his own son on the orders of Hammerhead. Of course he won’t know it’s Miles he is going to war with but therein lies the potential for a major reveal, perhaps just as he has him cornered, which would lead to switches in allegiance and a time of great upheaval for the webslinger.
Whether or not that avenue is taken it should still speak to the quality work put forward in this comic that it gets the imagination working and gets fans excited for what is to follow. Very few titles manage that in this day and age so it is something that Bendis should be proud of accomplishing.
Bendis, however, is not the only one with a right to be proud as Sara Pichelli and Justin Ponsor are cooking up a storm on the art side of the book. Sara’s characterisations are innovative yet playful. There is a humour to many scenes that makes it so that you don’t want to look away from the page, one need look no further than the scenes with Ms. Marvel to see this in action. On top of this you have the sinister way in which the Nan is portrayed when she goes into full rant mode combined with the deer in headlights expression on young Miles’ face which both create a feeling of realism that lends itself nicely to the family focused nature of the issue. Ponsor’s colours cannot be ignored either as they work to make for some very natural settings as well as similarly believable characters. There are a lot of good looking books right now and whilst this one isn’t going to set the world alight it does do a solid, consistent job that cannot be overlooked.
The anticipation for Spider-Man was high ahead of its launch a few months back and very often a book with that much hype is doomed to fall flat on its face. That has not been the case with this one though as fans have seen it leap higher and higher in quality each month. It is undoubtedly better than its ‘Amazing’ counterpart and a real contender for ‘2099’s’ crown as best Spider book at the moment.