By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder
As someone who followed Miles Morales’ adventures in the now defunct Ultimate Universe, Spider-Man #1 was an adjustment, and initially confusing. While this issue was mostly enjoyable, it left me wondering if Miles’ inclusion in the Marvel Universe proper will be a good thing for him in the long run.
After the events of Secret Wars, Miles and his cast of supporting characters have been retconned into the main Marvel Universe. In terms of backstory, our intro tells us the basics: Miles was bitten by a radioactive spider, became Spider-Man, and has only shared his secret with his father and his best friend Ganke. We see Miles try (unsuccessfully) to balance life as a teenager, and life as a superhero. But when Blackheart terrorizes New York City and leaves the Avengers laying, Miles can’t simply sit in class and do nothing…
I found a bit of dark humor in Blackheart’s appearance here. He’s the son of Mephisto, the demon who warped reality for Peter Parker (for better or worse) back in One More Day, and now that reality has been changed for Miles, Mephisto’s son pops up. Maybe that’s why Spider-Man has such notorious bad luck. He’s always got the devil watching him.
Spider-Man #1 confirms that much of what we enjoyed about Miles in the Ultimate Universe is still intact here. The most important of which are his wit and personality, and his friendship with Ganke. What it doesn’t tell us is how things have or have not changed. Miles apparently remembers everything that happened during his time in the Ultimate Universe, and on Battleworld. But this issue doesn’t tell us that. I myself had to find that out via an interview with Bendis. So if Miles remembers, does his father remember too? What about Ganke? If not, did he tell them? What about Peter Parker? What does he know about where Miles came from?
This is an instance where an issue #0 might have come in handy. I’m not suggesting one needs to know all of Miles’ exposition before reading Spider-Man #1. But it would have helped bridge the gap between this issue and Secret Wars. We wouldn’t have had to comb through every inch of Miles’ continuity. Just a brief look at what the Ultimate Universe was, and how Miles fits into the primary Marvel Universe. That way, all the nagging questions are answered. Hopefully Bendis is planning on addressing those questions sooner rather than later anyway. But an issue #0 would have been an easy access point.
Despite the confusion, Miles is nicely portrayed as a teenage superhero torn in so many different directions. Parents, grades, girls, not to mention the Avengers-level threat attacking the city. It’s classic Spider-Man stuff, really. There’s a great scene where Miles tries to talk his way out of class, hears no from his teacher, and then simply walks out. Even if this is your first exposure to him, I imagine it’d be hard not to root for Miles here.
It’s difficult to overstate the importance of Ganke to Miles and his world. They’ve almost got a Frodo/Sam dynamic going on. Miles is obviously the hero, and that’s okay with Ganke, who is simply happy to help his friend however he can. He’s very endearing that way. Miles and Ganke can also consistently pull off “Bendis Banter,” i.e. Bendis’ trademark hit-or-miss attempts at witty dialogue, without it grating on the reader. Perhaps that’s because coming from two teenage boys, it feels more believable than usual. In any event, readers can be grateful Ganke jumped universes alongside his best bud.
Sara Pichelli is once again drawing Miles in this issue, and that’s something fans can be thankful for. As the artist who drew his origin story, there’s a special vibe any time she’s with the character. To her credit, she’s aged him very convincingly. As awkward as it sounds, if you’ve followed Miles from his first appearance up to Spider-Man #1, it legitimately looks like we’ve seen this character go through puberty. So often, comic books are like revolving doors when it comes to writers and artists that we don’t typically see that happen.
While we don’t see much of him in this issue, it looks like we’ll soon be diving into how Peter Parker effects Miles’ life, and his role as Spider-Man. Quite frankly, I’m nervous about that.
In the Ultimate Marvel line, Miles became Spider-Man after Peter Parker died. That was part of what garnered so much publicity when the character made his debut. He wasn’t just some spinoff character. He was the Spider-Man. In this new series, he’s a Spider-Man. The tried and true Spidey is still alive and well, and from the get-go, Miles is somewhat redundant. The two characters even share the same home city. Miles may as well be called Spidey Jr. I’m reminded of the brief period when Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson both wore the mantle of Batman before the New 52 launched. That didn’t last long, and typically this kind of dichotomy doesn’t. So what happens to Miles when it’s time for there to be only one Spider-Man?
Furthermore, this whole All-New, All-Different initiative is obviously a hook for new readers. But to what degree does having two Spider-Men cause confusion among those readers?
Still, despite lingering questions Spider-Man #1 delivers. For those of us familiar with Miles, we get the next chapter in his story. New readers are introduced to a young hero, who depending one’s perspective, may be the rightful Spider-Man of the 21st century.
Images from author’s collection.
Follow Primary Ignition on Twitter @PrimaryIgnition, or at Facebook.com/PrimaryIgnition/