One year has passed since the battle with Venom, and Miles has retired from the webs. But with Spider-Woman, S.H.I.E.L.D. and his friends urging Spider-Man to come back, will Miles be able to decide in time to meet the new Cloak and Dagger?
Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Illustrated by David Marquez
Colored by Justin Ponsor
Lettered by VC’s Cory Petit
THE PLOT: 12 months after the fight with Venom and the death of his mother, Miles has since quit the role of Spider-Man and stuck to his studies, as well as getting together with his classmate Katie Bishop. One day Spider-Woman appears and gives Miles a new costume and pair of web shooters along with a note telling him to return.
LONG STORY SHORT: Miles and Jefferson go out to eat at a Chinese restaurant when he sees Gwen Stacy for the first time since last issue. The building ends up as the battleground between Bombshell and Cloak and Dagger.
MY THOUGHTS: This issue is practically perfect. In the year’s time since #22, this takes any concerns I had for the ongoing story and flushes them down the drain. Bendis did everything right by setting up where Miles is mentally, providing enough of a space between the then-and-now and priming him for a glorious return as Spider-Man down the road.
Praise first and foremost goes to David Marquez, who returns to the title after the climactic battle between Miles and his uncle the Prowler. I think Marquez owns this title in such a way that I prefer him over Sara Pichelli. Don’t get me wrong, Pichelli’s artwork is solid. Marquez however has a more expressive style that stays true to Pichelli’s original designs and tone for the series but ends up looking better in my opinion.
What also adds to the art is the slight redesign of Miles, Ganke and Jefferson due to the time skip. Miles and Ganke both look appropriately older while still not drastically different or dissimilar to their previous look. The characters were at the perfect age in which they were due for a growth spurt, so in this issue they are the same people with the same personalities and sense of fashion…but just older. It’s something that comics rarely tackle because of the sliding timeline. Peter Parker rarely is made to look older, as his age was typically altered depending on how each new artist drew him. Here, Miles has to look older and, on the side, a bit hardened after losing his mother, and it comes together beautifully. It’s probably the single most true-to-life interpretation of aging I’ve ever seen done in a comic, and makes me eager to see him return as an older and more experienced Spider-Man.
This issue is pure set-up for Miles’ return to the webs, but it’s carried by his reluctance and feelings over his mother’s death. It’s brilliant writing by Bendis in that there are no thought captions to tell us directly what he is thinking. It’s all in the artwork and character interactions. He almost resents Ganke for saying he’ll come back, he outright resents Spider-Woman for the costume, and he wants nothing to do with Gwen even though her experience with losing a parent sees her offer up her services for talking and venting. It’s a nice balance, because Miles’ isn’t moody or angst-ridden. He’s made up his mind and just wants to settle his feelings on what happened to him last year. Now the series is going to have him be Spider-Man again, so it’s almost a fruitless exercise to have him say “No means no”. Still, this is a side of Miles we’re seeing for the first time and it adds an earned sense of maturity for him, as he’s been written to be the junior novice for the majority of the title up to this point.
There’s not much else to discuss in this issue aside from the re-introduction of Bombshell and the first appearance of Cloak and Dagger in the Ultimate Marvel Universe. I’ve always enjoyed Cloak and Dagger as they were in Maximum Carnage and have appeared as buddies to Spidey in the 80s and 90s. Their introduction to Miles’ book can only be a positive, as another set of young heroes can help bring him back into the fold.
One of the best issues of the title to date, which does right by the premise of the time skip and makes me eager for the next issue.