Miles Morales IS Spider-Man.
In my head (and heart), Miles Morales is just as endearing, compelling, and funny as Peter Parker to me. He embodies every possible attribute a person would have to have to take up a mantle as daunting as Spider-Man, but that is beside the point. Miles has been slowly making his way toward becoming the full fledged Ultimate Universe hero that we all expect and want him to be and in #12, Brian Michael Bendis gave us two moments, one being a simple dialogue exchange and the other being a emotional gut punch, that finally makes Miles Morales the FIRST name I think of when I think Spider-Man.
Before I get into the plot and the gushing fanboy essay that is to follow, I want to give pause just to talk about David Marquez’s incredible artwork. It takes a special kind of person to draw Spidey and Ultimate Spider-Man since its very start has had some incredible people handling the pencils. Sara Pichelli, who is currently rocking the enjoyable 616-Ultimate crossover Spider-Men, is still my favorite and I will ALWAYS buy something with Chris Samnee’s name on it, but WHOO boy, does Marquez give us some cracker jack action scenes. He does the quiet stuff great too; the opening scene of Miles staking out his Uncle Aaron is a striking example of this. Not many artists can nail the mood of Bendis’ wordless sequences, but David Marquez gives it a taut film noir look and it’s made Ultimate Spider-Man a must buy for his entire run. His action sequences have an Edgar Wright-like frenetic look that makes them dizzyingly exciting, without being hard to follow.
Ok, now on to the gushing…
#12 picks up with Miles dodging his Uncle Aaron’s persistent attempts at a team up. He is conflicted after his run in with The Scorpion, and he, of course, confides his best friend Ganke (who is just a delight as soon as he shows up in panel), who tells him the only way to get to stop is with a good ol’ fashioned superhero throw down. I really love the buildup of this issue with most of start of the issue happening in smaller, more personal locations like the hallways of The Brookylin Visions Academy and Miles’ parent’s house with Miles interacting with his Ganke and other members of the Morales family. There is even a great bit after Ganke offers his advice where Miles gets onto him for blabbing out loud about his costumed antics and Ganke replies, “That’s the best part of being us. No one is EVER listening.” Where is THIS Brian Michael Bendis on AvX?! Also, do I spy a redhead about to make an appearance in Miles Morales’ life? My Ship Sense is tingling!
Miles then decides to have dinner with his parents where he is, once again, cornered by his Uncle Aaron, who threatens to spill the beans to his wildly Anti-Mutant brother about his superhero son, unless Miles will go along with his nefarious machinations. It’s here we FINALLY get to see Miles standing up to his Uncle in a way that feels like it has weight behind it. In previous issues, his threats kinda came off as whiney, yet complacent because he was unsure of his abilities, but THIS Miles Morales has taken down two supervillians; he isn’t about to let his uncle push him around.
After a criminally short scene with Miles and his mother, The Prowler and Spider-Man meet and Spidey issues an ultimatum: The Prowler leaves town and never comes near the Morales Family again. What follows is a beautifully rendered superhero fight that is worth the $3.99 I paid for the issue alone, BUT also the aforementioned moments where Miles Morales finally BECAME Spider-Man to me.
As the fight spills into the streets, The Prowler, using more of his stolen Tinkerer tech, aims his Shocker gauntlets toward a crowded bus. Spider-Man braces himself in front of the blast and for his trouble he gets blown into a shop window and the bus becomes overturned. Spidey immediately springs into getting the civilians to safety and as he pulls a woman from the wreckage; she says to her hero, “You are stronger than you look.” Spider-Man simply replies, “I have to be.”
Think about that for a moment. That simple twist of dialogue is EVERYTHING we love about Spider-Man. It doesn’t matter who is behind the mask, as long as he is a good person who is willing to sacrifice everything and be extraordinary for the common good. He doesn’t do it for attention, he doesn’t do it for profit; he does it because it’s RIGHT. Reading it for the first time and even now as I am writing about it, I feel myself getting misty eyed because it’s so simple in its power.
After getting the people to safety, Spider-Man and The Prowler resume their fight, and mid punch, the bus explodes, knocking Miles clear of the blast (also giving us our first look at his costume after it’s taken Spidey Battle Damage, which was super cool) and engulfing his Uncle Aaron in flames. Miles Morales now has TWO dead people (Ultimate Peter Parker, being the first) on his conscious and with his dying breath The Prowler whispers the realization that Miles is a murderer just like his superthief uncle.
Bendis’ TO BE CONINTUED have never felt more powerful nor have they ever left me wanting more so badly. Ultimate Spider-Man, since its stellar first issue, has always been interesting and dynamic, mainly due to Bendis’ crack writing of Miles Morales, but with this newest issue, he has delivered a fresh and daring take on familiar tropes and character moments that make it highly emotional and highly addicting. If this book isn’t on your pull list, you are truly missing out on something special.
I Believe In Miles Morales,