Writer Brian Michael Bendis has a tricky job ahead of him. He is trying to establish Miles Morales as the Spider-Man, but he wants to do it in a short amount of time. While the first issue of Spider-Man was admittedly a fun read, the second issue shows some of the challenges Bendis’ social-justice project presents.
SM #2 begins with Spider-Man — the original — asking Miles who or what took out all the Avengers, yet retreated when he entered the fray. As the two are discussing the matter, along with whether or not Miles should continue to go by just “Spider-Man,” the demon Blackheart returns from the spirit world and essentially takes Peter Parker out of the fight with a single blow. Miles uses multiple venom blasts and Captain America’s shield to quickly dispose of the villain.
“You did this?” Tony Stark asks as he regains consciousness and stumbles forward. Even Bendis knows this is absurd, so he has Miles reply, “Well, uh, I mean it was more like a group effort.”
There is only one problem with that line: It wasn’t a group effort. Everything about the first two issues — including the cover, with Miles triumphantly standing with Cap’s shield over helpless Avengers — screams, “Respect this Spider-Man! Respect him! Seriously! Please?”
The reason for the cheap shortcut comes soon afterward, when word spreads of the new Spider-Man. A girl calls Miles “black Spider-Man” and this annoys him.
“I don’t want to be the black Spider-Man. I want to be Spider-Man,” Miles tells his friend Ganke.
“Okay, poof, you’re Spider-Man,” his friend replies.
If only it were that easy — but it’s not.
Readers can simultaneously appreciate Bendis’ mastery of the craft of writing while acknowledging that Miles is getting an embarrassing assist in the credibility department.
Fact: In a world where Peter Parker exists, he will always be seen as the Spider-Man. Any derivative of him can never be the Spider-Man because Peter Parker was and always will be the original. Readers can either call Miles “black Spider-Man” because he is black, or because he chose to wear a black costume.
At the end of the day, it is bizarre to arbitrarily make Captain America black, Thor a woman, and Spider-Man a black guy when the original characters — who are still popular — are something else. Many Marvel readers get this, despite the creators’ best efforts to brainwash them otherwise.
Is Spider-Man a good book? Sure. So far. Is it worth spending $4.00 on? Yes. Will I ever consider Miles Morales the Spider-Man? No — because he’s not. He’s a Spider-Man (a good one), who came after Peter Parker.
I look forward to reading the third issue of Spider-Man. I just hope Bendis doesn’t have Miles taking down Ultron to prove the character’s worth.