Spider-Man #5: Bendis gives Miles new power … because god-like Miles

Miles SM3

Brian Michael Bendis wants “Spider-Man” readers to know that Miles Morales, one day, will be the most powerful superhero in the Marvel universe. How do I know this? Because the kid can take down anyone with a single touch, turn himself invisible, regenerate limbs, he’s (allegedly) immortal, and now he can randomly project giant bursts of energy.

It’s dumb, lazy, and just screams, “My Spider-Man will be the best Spider-Man ever and you will respect him!”

Spider-Man #5 exemplifies everything that is wrong and everything that is right with the title. On one hand Mr. Bendis excels at planting seeds for future conflict, but on the other his efforts are negated because there is no conflict with an immortal being with an endless string of powers.

The situation is so embarrassing that Marvel Wikia lists Miles’ one weakness as … inexperience.

Translation: Miles Morales is Marvel’s Big Dog — and and you, dear reader, just don’t know it yet.

Miles Morales powers

Here is what Bendis said in a recent interview with CBR about criticism about Miles’ powers:

I already got an e-mail tonight from somebody in England who gets their comics a day early b****ing to me, and I was given this a little bit in the last volume too, that some people don’t like when Miles wins a fight with his venom blast. They think it’s bulls**t.

That’s like saying you’re mad because Thor won a fight with his hammer. I don’t understand that criticism. He has a tool and he used it. It’s not like the readers didn’t know he could do it. We’ve known since the character’s first appearance. So I’m calling bullshit on people calling bulls**t on this particular thing. It’s a very weird criticism.

Note to Brian Michael Bendis: The validity of your argument is not positively correlated with the number of times you say “bulls**t” and “b***h.”

If Miles Morales only needs to touch an opponent to beat him (e.g., the demon Blackheart, Hammerhead), then he becomes boring.

If there are no chains that can hold Miles Morales because he might decide to become a levitating burst of god-like energy, then it is kind of lame.

When the message is: “You cannot defeat Miles Morales — you can only hope to contain him!” then the book becomes a snooze-fest. That is not “bulls**t.” That is the truth.

Here is what you need to know about Spider-Man #5:

  • Miles Morales is held in a warehouse by Black Cat, Hammerhead and his crew. He uses a Venom Blast on one of the goons and Hammerhead before projecting an “energy burst” to escape.
  • Miles’ annoying grandma decides to hire a private investigator, Jessica Jones, to figure out what the teenager does when he is not in school.
  • “Goldballs” takes Ganke up on the offer to live with he and Miles.
  • Black Cat tells Miles not to interfere with her “business.” She threatens to “ruin” his life if he crosses her.
  • Maria Hill meets with Miles’ father. There is an agreement made to look after the boy and she says, “Welcome back to S.H.I.E.L.D.”

Am I interested in seeing what happens when Jessica Jones tails Miles? Sure.

Does it pique my interest to know that Miles’ father is a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent? Sure. I think it’s weird for a husband to have giant secrets from his wife and son, but for entertainment purposes I suppose it works.

Miles Morales Grandma SM

The problem Spider-Man has, however, is that it appears to be trying too hard to establish Miles Morales as “the” Spider-Man. Unfortunately, just adding power after power after power to the kid actually ends up doing him a disservice.

When it becomes apparent that a writer is desperate to have his pet creation immediately enter the upper echelons of Marvel greatness, it becomes a turnoff for readers. This reviewer may be jumping off the book soon if the trend continues for much longer.

Spider-Man #4: Bendis reveals Morales’ secret identity — to ‘Goldballs’

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.

Bendis launches Spider-Man with a bang: Miles a fun read in opener

SpiderMan Miles

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.

Miles Morales

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.