Brian Michael Bendis’ Spider-Man, featuring Miles Morales, finally hit stores this week. The event was an opportunity to sell readers like yours truly — a guy who never gave Marvel’s Ultimate Comics the time of day — on the character. The good news: It seems like it will be a really fun book. The bad news (at least for die-hard Peter Parker fans): This may be the Spider-Man you want to add to your pull list if you’re short on cash.
Bendis had certain notes that he had to hit in this issue for individuals who know nothing about Miles Morales.
- Is he believable as a modern teenager? Yes.
- Is he likable? Yes.
- Are his interactions with his parents authentic? Yes.
- Are his interactions with his peers authentic? Yes.
- Are his interactions with authority figures in his life (e.g., teachers) authentic? Yes.
- Does he seem like a version of Spider-Man I’d like to read about regularly? Yes.
Fun fact: When I was a high-school kid I had a habit of not doing my homework. I used to go up into my room and read “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” and write short stories instead of doing my math homework. I watched movies with my girlfriend. I played basketball with my friends. And then, just like Miles, my mom asked me if I was on drugs.
While it would have been a better story if I was solving crime as Spider-Man, the underlying point is that kids often prioritize their lives differently than their parents would like — no matter how well the parents do their job — and “Are you on drugs?” is on the checklist of questions when they have no idea what’s going on.
These are the little things writers — good writers — need to know in order to convince new readers to plunk down $4.00 each month. Note to certain writers on The Amazing Spider-Man: It is possible to craft an exciting story that also includes character development. It’s a shocker, I know, but it’s true.
Long story short, if you want to see a day in the life of Miles Morales, which just so happens to involve ditching school to take on Blackheart and explaining to his parents why his grades are suffering, Bendis delivers the goods.
Finally, it should be noted that Sara Pichelli’s artwork a pleasing to the eye as well. There really is a depth and breadth to her work that is impressive. Whether Miles is sitting on a bench discussing life with his friend Ganke, trying to placate his angry parents, or taking on a demon who just leveled The Avengers, each situation is exquisitely crafted. One could argue that if all the dialogue were stripped from the book it would still be worth the cover price. If Pichelli has never done work as a Hollywood storyboard artist, then she may want to look into it.
Spider-Man is a worthy read. As long as Bendis does not get weirdly political on a regular basis, there is a high probability that I will continue to purchase the book going forward.