Three issues in, and this really is turning out to be the Miles series that I’ve been waiting for. While Peter Parker is an international gazillionaire super-agent, it’s nice to “come home” to a series where we can spend some time seeing Spider-Man out of costume, interacting with believable characters and dealing with some down-to-earth relatable problems. This is a fantastic issue focused on people and relationships, and a pleasure to read.
Miles’ grandmother has come to sort out his grades. She dominates her scenes and a good portion of the issue, and despite my initial enthusiasm for her, I ended up not liking her very much. I laughed at her getting in Miles’ way by confiscating his phone and breaking up a potential date with Lana, because having frustrated my own parents as a teenager, I understood that her histrionics were all coming from a good place.
However, there was also an unexpected mean streak in her ranting, with Jefferson getting hit by some major emotional shrapnel. Despite Sara Pichelli’s playful rendering of their silent “death stare”, Gloria’s comments were out of line and revealed a strained relationship with Miles’ dad. But she’s family, so we’re all stuck with her.
This gives our hero an interesting and very real challenge to navigate: Family dynamics. As a parent myself, I was really taken by Miles admitting disappointment in his dad (while also confirming that one of my favorite non-Spidey Spider-Man stories remain canon) and I’m now invested in seeing how it affects their relationship going forward.
Despite the tension at home, the tone of the story takes a wonderful and slightly surreal turn with the appearance of the second young superhero to pay Miles a visit on this awkward afternoon: Ms. Marvel, who is easily the highlight of an already solid issue.
The acting and staging in this scene is irresistible and had me smiling throughout. As Kamala stays out of sight during Gloria’s lecture, Pichelli delivers fun and playful examples of Ms. Marvel’s shapeshifting powers in action. There’s a fantastic range of expressions from annoyance to wonder as Miles humors his grandmother while being clearly taken with the silly and pretty girl that understands yet teases him about his predicament. As the scene is set in a darkened room, it’s worth noting Justin Ponsor’s fantastic work using sunlight to bring out the warmth of the dialogue and the characters.
And yes, I admit to “aww”ing out loud at Miles’ expression at the end of the scene and the beautiful panel of Kamala’s silhouette walking away.
It’s not all fun and games, as the Black Cat recruits Hammerhead (of all people!) to help her take down the new Spider-Man. I personally lost interest in the character post-Superior and didn’t really buy into her as a menacing crime lord until this issue. A big part of that for me was her new street costume, which was less about her obvious attributes and more about making her genuinely intimidating. That said, I understand that her glamour and sexuality are part of the character and noted how Pichelli and Ponsor brought that out through closeups of her cold stares and dangerous smiles. The wordless panel of her sneering at Hammerhead’s goons was definitely a “whoa” moment. That said, I’m not sure why she’s going after Miles. “One Spider too many” isn’t the strongest reason.
At its heart, Spider-Man has always been about the everyday, so I loved seeing Miles in class and struggling with a simple nuisance problem (i.e., losing his phone privileges) and the comedy in trying to communicate with Ganke. I live in hope that Judge will become more than a background character, especially with the surprise introduction of a new classmate. I had enjoyed this new cast member during the early Marvel Now era and am interested to see how his being “out” affects both life at Brooklyn Visions and Miles’ relationship with his best friend. I don’t want to give away this character’s identity, but I’ll say that Pichelli’s depiction of Ganke’s star-struck reaction to such a left-field choice had me in hysterics.
This series continues to do great things. If you’re not a Spider-Man/Miles Morales fan, this is the perfect time to get on board.