Brian Michael Bendis began his run on the Miles Morales version of Spider-Man last month and showed a tremendous amount of promise with his first issue. Now that issue two has hit the shelves it is time to see whether that promise has carried over or evaporated.
The action picked up right where it left off last time as Miles had just defeated Blackheart whilst the Avengers lay defeated around him. The opening of this issue saw Peter Parker having some concerns over Miles as Spider-Man due to some perceived immaturity in the role. It made some sense that this would be the case since Miles is just adjusting to this new power but it also seemed rather out of place as he had just saved the city from a monstrous enemy. Still, it did lead to a charming flashback sequence in which Miles remembered the meeting with Parker where the latter gave him permission to be Spider-Man. This was portrayed in a decidedly Disney XD style and it worked wonderfully as a look through the eyes of an optimistic teenager.
The Spider talk didn’t last an enormous amount of time though as Blackheart returned and Miles was forced to battle him once more. The fight itself wasn’t anything too special, though it did establish Miles as a force to be reckoned with, perhaps even more so than the original Spider-Man. What was special was the art provided by Sara Pichelli and Gaetano Carlucci which depicted the sequence in glorious detail. Their character models were spot on for everyone in the book and the fluidity of movement they achieved in each panel was second to none.
The upshot of this second encounter with the demonic foe was that Miles gained the approval of the Avengers, including Parker. This will undoubtedly factor into the story going forwards as he is called upon to fight even more intimidating challengers.
The key element to this issue though is not depicted through Miles’ fighting or his interaction with other heroes. It is encapsulated in the world’s response to his heroics. In a simple yet effective scene, Ganke shows Miles a Youtube video of a typically 2016 teen girl doing a Vlog on the subject. She heaps the praise upon him in as over the top manner as you may expect but that isn’t important, what’s important is why she is so pleased with this new Spidey. It is because he is black. Miles does not like that fact.
Herein lies the brilliance of this title so far. It is highlighting important social issues that others books just do not touch on. In this case it deals with the overwhelming need people seem to have to label everything, Miles can’t just be Spider-Man he has to be the Black Spider-Man instead. All he wants is to be recognized as a hero because of his dedication to helping people and fighting injustice but all this girl wants to do is rave over the fact that Thor is now a woman and Spidey is now of colour. That irks Miles as it is forcing an identity upon them that he did not choose for himself, an issue that is all to prevalent in the real world thanks to misguided social justice warriors.
On the other side of this, Bendis pens a news report that has someone balking at the idea of yet another hero as he is certain it will bring more costumed villains out of the woodwork. The interviewer points out his hypocrisy as this man supposedly criticised the real Spidey for going global but is now against someone else protecting his old turf. Again, this is something you will see in a vast number of comic book fans as they claim to want to see fresh faces and advancement in storylines but then take to social media in anger when they get what they’ve asked for.
This, sometimes biting, social commentary is a refreshing addition to this title and it is something that a few more comics should be partaking in. There is a danger of laying it on too thick but that hasn’t happened just yet, rather it has all been to inform and build upon the character of Miles Morales and it has done a fine job of that thus far. As Bendis continues to explore race and media issues you should get an even more zeitgeisty book with a lot to say.
As was briefly mentioned earlier, Pichelli and Carlucci, have outdone themselves with their sublime work on this comic. Everybody has an identity in the way they are drawn and each face emotes, even the masked ones. No one feels particularly extraneous when they are in view and this makes for a more complete world for Miles to occupy. It really feels like every line matters.
Just as it did last month, this comic has once again impressed with an incisive subplot dealing with real issues as well as an exciting main story featuring more typical superhero hijinks. Despite a slightly weak moment of doubt from Peter this was still an enjoyable read and that is sure to continue in the months to come.
Score: 4.5 out of 5.
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