Miles Ganke

Superheroes tend to place a high value on their secret identities, and Miles Morales is no exception to the rule. Unfortunately, the fourth issue of Brian Michael Bendis’ Spider-Man shows the hero losing it due to a decision by his best friend Ganke. He spills the beans to ex-X-Man “Goldballs” of all people. (Yes, Goldballs.)

Like the surface-to-air missiles that target Miles after Ganke’s betrayal, this issues misses the mark.

Before we move on, here is what you need to know:

  • Miles and Ganke argue in the school lunch room whether it’s harder to be a black teen in America or an overweight asian (groan).
  • Ganke wants Miles to talk to the new kid, Fabio Medina (aka: Goldballs), because they both have superpowers.
  • When Fabio accidentally launches one of his “goldballs” into Ganke’s food, the three young men start talking and Ganke inexplicably reveals his friend’s secret identity.
  • Miles storms off and while web-slinging through the city he is targeted by four heat-seeking missiles.
  • Spider-Man is knocked to the ground due to the concussive blast of one of the missiles. Hammerhead steps out of a vehicle and says it’s time to call Black Cat and collect his bounty.

Miles Morales 3

The decision to explore a best friend’s betrayal in a book involving high-school kids is appropriate, but it seems quite a stretch for someone like Ganke to suddenly reveal Miles’ secret identity. A writer should spend a lot of time setting the stage for game-changers, but readers sadly did not get it this time. As a result, half the issue didn’t ring true.

Making matters worse is the fact that Miles says, “I have actually never been this mad at anyone about anything,” but we never see his anger. He web-slings around the city for a few moments and then his spider-sense alerts him to incoming missiles.

Try this out: Think of the angriest you’ve ever been in your life. What did you do? How did you react? Did you just say, “I’ve never been this mad” and then walk around, or did you punch, kick, yell or scream?

A few years ago an old Army buddy of mine said, “Do you remember that time that you got so mad at [insert name of horrible squad leader here] that you burst into our room, slammed the door, screamed, flipped your entire bed, and then took off for the motor pool?” 

I do remember that — and that isn’t the most angry I have ever been.

People do not think clearly when they are livid. Given that, it seems like a no-brainer for Miles’ to have been so upset that he didn’t notice his own spider-sense going off until it was nearly too late. Maybe he could have even kicked a garbage can as he exited the school and sent it flying 100 yards down the road. Something — anything — would be better than just telling readers that Miles is angry.

After the heat-seeking missiles magically miss Miles while in “cammo mode,” he decides to lure them to parts of the city where detonations will pose the least amount of risk to the civilian population.

Miles Parker Industries

Miles chooses to destroy a Parker Industries sign, which is funny given that Arachno-Rockets” (See ASM #9) filled with liquid hydrogen are stored inside the building.

We’ll just say that it was by the grace of God that Miles didn’t kill scores of people…

Spider Rocket

Our hero’s luck runs out and he is seemingly incapacitated at Hammerhead’s feet. Besides wondering how a has-been underworld thug like Hammerhead got his hands on some SAMs and then deployed them in the middle of New York City, readers must now ask the following question: Is Spider-Man worth it? The jury is still out for this blogger.

  • If you like Marvel’s new take on Black Cat (I don’t), then Spider-Man #4 is for you.
  • If you like Hammerhead (I don’t), then Spider-Man #4 is for you.
  • If you like Goldballs (Huh?  Why, Marvel?), then I guess Spider-Man #4 is for you.
  • If you like best friends who act irrationally, then Spider-Man #4 is for you.

Spider-Man certainly has potential, but as of right now it still feels as though Bendis’ search for Miles identity within the 616 Universe is coming through in the title.

How big is his stable of characters to pick from? If Bendis is forced to use Goldballs and Hammerhead this early in his run, then it doesn’t bode well for the future. Perhaps he is limited one what villains he can use because Dan Slott needs them for The Amazing Spider-Man. Whatever the case, Bendis needs to settle into a groove soon our readers will move on.

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About the Author Douglas Ernst

I'm a former Army guy who believes success comes through hard work, honesty, optimism, and perseverance. I believe seeing yourself as a victim creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. I believe in God. I'm a USC Trojan with an MA in Political Science from American University.

14 comments

  1. Goldballs? Obviously, they’ve run out of superpowers to give their new characters, not to mention names. Yeesh. Good thing I’m not a big Bendis fan, apart from “Secret War” and “Secret Warriors.”

    1. “Goldballs? Obviously, they’ve run out of superpowers to give their new characters, not to mention names.”

      What stinks is now it’s set for them to become friends and down the line we’ll get the “Goldballs” four-parter where he is kidnapped and needs to be saved by Miles.

      If I took over “Spider-Man” tomorrow, I would have Goldballs’ sudden knowledge of Miles’ identify lead to his own murder. That would force Ganke to think about his own culpability, what it means to betray a friend’s trust, etc. It would also show how acting impulsively with “good intentions” often leads to consequences that are diametrically opposed to the stated goal.

    2. “If I took over “Spider-Man” tomorrow, I would have Goldballs’ sudden knowledge of Miles’ identify lead to his own murder. That would force Ganke to think about his own culpability, what it means to betray a friend’s trust, etc. It would also show how acting impulsively with “good intentions” often leads to consequences that are diametrically opposed to the stated goal.”

      That would be a good way to raise the stakes for Miles, but don’t expect Bendis to take that into consideration. Maybe it’ll have consequences down the road, though right now Ganke decision to reveal Miles’ secret identity to Goldballs seems to have been written for no real reason.

      “What stinks is now it’s set for them to become friends and down the line we’ll get the “Goldballs” four-parter where he is kidnapped and needs to be saved by Miles.”

      I looked Goldballs up. Apparently he’s a character created by Bendis for Uncanny X-Men in 2012. From the sounds of it, he hasn’t really done much.

    3. a few years ago, Bendis invaded the X-men and made a few forgettable, pointless characters to fill in his liberal quota box. Like most pandering characters, they are there so guys like Bendis can pat themselves on the back for being inclusive before going back to talking about their favorite white characters. He did create one extra character that was significant: He put himself in the book and named himself Eva Bell.

      Goldballs was one of these extras and aside from making me laugh involuntarily when he was introduced, he was basically there to provide Bendis with a chance to quip on the name because he’s an idiot.

      Eva was there to remark on the book’s main characters and provide unneeded exposition, it was pretty sly to use a character for this purpose…but once you figure out that Bendis basically put himself in the comic book so he can wow you with how arrogantly intelligent he thinks he is…it becomes a source of unintentional humor. She freezes time, probably the most effective and boring power in comic books. She is well on her way to being named Mary Sue Bell Bendis when he decides to leave the book.

      Bendis did accomplish one amazing thing with the X-men. He set out to make Cyclops into a truly independent and admirable character, and managed to make him even more hated, despised and stupid than anyone thought possible.

    1. “I don’t think Marvel Comics is lacking in superpowers or names for new characters … just unimportant things like creativity, sense of identity.”

      Marvel is shooting for an identity, but it’s one that generally alienates potential customers. It seems like not a month goes by without a writer shoveling personal politics into the readers’ faces. Why would I want to read Miles and Ganke talking about whether black kids or fat asians are more oppressed in NYC? It’s so annoying. Bendis is more delicate without how he inserts it into the book, but it’s still jarring and weird.

      At one point Miles talks about how a lady walked to the other side of the street out of fear of him … when he was 9 years old. Okay. Because as we all know, that sort of thing happens all the time … in broad daylight … in NYC.

    2. Y’know, I think the main reason why I really liked the early run of Runaways was because the main characters held the same sort of contempt for most Marvel properties that I do.

    3. “Y’know, I think the main reason why I really liked the early run of Runaways was because the main characters held the same sort of contempt for most Marvel properties that I do.”

      Zing! 🙂

  2. I know that when I get angry, I don’t monologue to myself about how angry I am. That would just be weird. I also don’t break things. Usually, depending on what time of day it is, I go to bed and wake up the next day feeling refreshed. Obviously Bendis is ignoring the “show, don’t tell” rule.

    1. “Usually, depending on what time of day it is, I go to bed and wake up the next day feeling refreshed. Obviously Bendis is ignoring the ‘show, don’t tell’ rule.”

      These days I usually find more mature ways to vent my anger. 😉 One of the good things about time is that it allows you to see that things you got angry about as a kid weren’t worth the anger. As I get older, there is less and less that can really set me off.

  3. “Miles and Ganke argue in the school lunch room whether it’s harder to be a black teen in America or an overweight asian (groan).”

    Remember when Marvel characters had genuine problems (ranging from making rent to the burden of their responsibilities)? Really, you’d think a superhero that has to regularly fight crime or save the world wouldn’t waste time on nonsense like this. Yeesh, these days, Marvel characters echoing the latest SJW grievances complain more than the X-Men do about Genosha.

    “Try this out: Think of the angriest you’ve ever been in your life. What did you do? How did you react? Did you just say, “I’ve never been this mad” and then walk around, or did you punch, kick, yell or scream?”

    It certainly would’ve had more gravitas if Miles was so angry that he threw a punch and had to stop himself. Instead, Bendis made like the Robot Devil.

    “If you like Hammerhead (I don’t), then Spider-Man #4 is for you.”

    I like Hammerhead, but only in the ways that the cartoons usually portrayed him: a thug working for a high-profile boss and getting outclassed whenever he oversteps. He just doesn’t have the personality to play major villain himself.

    1. “Remember when Marvel characters had genuine problems (ranging from making rent to the burden of their responsibilities)? Really, you’d think a superhero that has to regularly fight crime or save the world wouldn’t waste time on nonsense like this. Yeesh, these days, Marvel characters echoing the latest SJW grievances complain more than the X-Men do about Genosha.”

      When I grew up, I went to Elgin High School in Elgin, Illinois. As of 2014 the demographics break down: 16% White, 7% Black, 70% Hispanic, 1% Native American, and 5% Asian. 77% of students are considered “low income.”

      This has changed a bit since I was a kid, but I remember the officials bragging (maybe 1997?) how Money magazine rated us the “most diverse high school in the United States … [insert huge number of languages here] are spoken in the halls of Elgin High School.”

      I say this because I was not in some “white privilege bubble” … hurrrrrrm. When I graduated from USC I went back to the district and would substitute teach there. Kids did not talk about stuff like that. They talked about television shows … music … movies … girlfriends … boyfriends. Very few kids were political, and to the extent they were, the only thing they knew was “Bush = Bad,” followed by a few generic talking points.

      “I like Hammerhead, but only in the ways that the cartoons usually portrayed him: a thug working for a high-profile boss and getting outclassed whenever he oversteps. He just doesn’t have the personality to play major villain himself.”

      It annoys me that he still wears 1920s mobster suits in 2016. Every other villain gets updated, but for whatever reason he’s stuck in an Al Capone time warp. Like you said, he’s not a major villain. I feel like Hammerhead is used when writers need to buy time to set up bigger things, which means I’m probably wasting money when he’s around.

    1. “Ganke has been reduced to a idiot fan boy.”

      I never really read Miles’ stories when he was in the Ultimate universe, so I don’t have a frame of reference for how far Ganke has fallen. I was wondering about that. Bendis introduced Ganke to a slew of new readers as a best friend in the first issue of Spider-Man, and now he does this three issues later without any real warning. It’s weird.

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