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Spider-Man #9 – REVIEW

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I’ve made no secret that Civil War II held zero interest for me as a reader, but when the outcome has now been revealed in the two (!) new Iron Man series while Miles is off adventuring with the Champions, then what’s the appeal of the event? I understand that real life affected the schedule of the main series. I can appreciate the challenges facing Marvel editorial. But factor in a two month wait, and Spider-Man #9 needed to be pretty damned spectacular to convince me that it’s all worth it.

sm2016009-int-lr2-1It wasn’t.

For those of us that managed to steer clear of Civil War II, we see Ulysses’ prophetic vision of Miles having killed Captain America. Miles is now missing, leaving his supporting cast to carry the story as they split up and search for their friend.

It’s a mixed bag because while they’re all pretty engaging characters, there’s a surprising lack of urgency. In fact, quite a bit of this issue plays for charm and laughs. I usually love this stuff, but it’s wildly out of place given the context. We should be building tension, but instead it reads as if the characters (and we as readers) are killing time before the main event.

Let’s see, half of the Marvel heroes are convinced that Spider-Man is going to commit a horrible crime. So I didn’t quite get into:

  • Ms. Marvel and Nova playfully arguing about a computer password.
  • Bombshell and Goldballs discussing the latter’s name (in case you missed it over the last four years, it’s funny because “balls”).
  • Miles inexplicably in Washington DC and standing on the steps of the Capitol building.

What is the point of any of this?

It seemed like the highlight of the issue should have been Jefferson’s return to SHIELD. His secret past was first revealed in Miles Morales: The Ultimate Spider-Man issues 8 and 9, which rank among my favorite chapters in the entire series. I was excited to see Jefferson step up as Super Dad, and disappointed to see his conversation with Hill ultimately go nowhere, making the scene feel like even more filler.

Fortunately, Ganke’s effort to find Miles is the most grounded and believable, and was the highlight of the issue for me. He brings a sweet sincerity to the story; he cares about his friend and is now extra mindful about protecting his identity. I especially enjoyed the brief moment where he seems enamored with Danika. I’m not looking for the two to start a relationship, but it was a charming lapse on Ganke’s part – in the middle of a desperate search for his best friend, he can still get distracted by a pretty girl.

Nico Leon and Marte Gracia are the stars and saving graces of this issue, breathing much-needed life into a script about characters standing around having conversations. Much of the issue takes place outside at night, and the cityscapes here are beautiful and mysterious. Even though I didn’t necessarily love the use of quirky dialogue in this story, I was impressed at how perfectly the art complemented it with fantastic character acting. It sounds strange, but while I didn’t love reading the book, I loved looking at it.

sm2016009-int-lr2-2Speaking of art, let’s talk about the cover.

Venom doesn’t appear in this issue. I don’t think that the cover was an intentional bait-and-switch, but perhaps the result of editorial changes after it was commissioned. That doesn’t make it any less disappointing. I’d learned that their “battle” did take place in Civil War II #5– “battle” in quotes because it was an awkward out-of-nowhere confrontation that lasted all of one page.

Any guesses as to how Miles managed to beat Venom so quickly?

Yep: *ZZZT*

I don’t know about you, but I didn’t see that coming at all.

While it’s been interesting seeing other creative teams figure out how to incorporate Miles into the main Marvel Universe, I’m not convinced that it’s been good for his solo series. In fact, I now wonder if it was a mistake.

I’ve been rooting for this character since the beginning. I’ve stuck by his series through thick and thin. But after five years, I’m tired of seeing his opportunities for meaningful character development being derailed by an event every few issues. I really thought that things would be different this time around and sad to see that we’re still stuck in this pattern.

The cliffhanger explains that the story continues in Civil War II #7. No thanks. I’ll be re-reading the wonderful Champions instead. At least in that book’s world, the whole conflict is a distant memory. Thank goodness.

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