There is a pattern. It’s cyclical.
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artists: Dave Marquez
Colorist: Justin Ponsor
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Cover Artist: Dave Marquez and Justin Ponsor
Assistant Editor: Emily Shaw
Editor: Mark Paniccia
Plot: Following the closure of SHIELD, the very-not-dead Norman Osborn escapes from confinement. While a pair of criminals dubbed the Spider-Man Twins begin a crime spree, Miles Morales seeks dating advice from Mary Jane Watson.
Thoughts:This issue feels very much like a cold open to a new season of a long running series. The audience has tuned in, desperately, looking for the plot threads from the finale to be resolved, but all the writer wants is to set up for a new run of stories. On my first read through I did feel a little let down by this, but I’m going to use this review as a bit of a therapy session. I suspect I’ve judged this based on what I wanted it to be, rather than what it is.
We start the issue at a secret SHIELD facility. The facility has been covertly holding Norman Osborn on Nick Fury’s say so. He’s drugged and making idol threats from his Hannibal-style captivity. This was only a two-page scene, but it does feel a little dragged out. The SHIELD agent and the government liaison spend a lot of time talking back and forth before the big reveal. Their plentiful dialogue is not helped by the scene’s use of color. It is very well lit, which contributes little to the tension a scene like this should have. This series in the past has been able to use color to depict tone and build tension, that was not the case here. The fact that Osborn is alive is hardly surprising, but I was left excited at the prospect of Miles going up against his idol’s killer. That seems to have limitless story potential. Hopefully we shouldn’t have to wait too long, as once Norman is transferred into non-SHIELD hands he escapes in a fiery explosion. I did appreciate that Norman’s return is not convoluted, or anything to do with mystic ninjas. Fury told everyone Osborn was dead, but he wasn’t. Simple.
The next sequence begins with two men debating superhero deaths. On face value they are discussing the recent demise of Captain America, and one of the men believes that when Cap is needed he will return. While on the surface this had little to do with Miles Morales, the reason many of us probably bought the book, but it does put the reader in the right frame of mind for this issue’s cliffhanger, which I will discuss shortly. Mid-debate the two men are ambushed by the “Spider-Men Twins”. I think the credit should go to Hornacek and others, who predicted the Fly Twins would be the animated characters to make the jump to the comic page. The art in this scene was more from what I expect from this series. The Twins entrance is very eerie, as only their outline and eyes are visible at first. Despite being almost identical in appearance I think Bendis did a fine job in the script to demonstrate the differences between the two and give them some personality. I look forward to seeing more of them.
Which finally brings us to Miles Morales. Unfortunately Miles’ status quo has become a little confusing in the wake of Cataclysm. Miles has not seen Jefferson since he confessed to being Spider-Man. The police believe Jefferson was killed during Cataclysm, making Miles an orphan. Although he’s still at the same school, hanging out with Ganke. I find it difficult to believe that Jefferson’s “death” would not effect Miles’ circumstances. Should he not be in foster care? Who is paying for school? I understand Bendis not wanting to go that route, but it did take me out of the story. What we did get from Miles this issue I enjoyed. He is still dating Kate Bishop, and is considering telling her he’s Spider-Man. Honestly I hope he does. I am interested in this relationship and would like to see it developed further. All the significant moments seem to happen off screen, even their kiss for some reason. This does put the audience into an interesting position however when MJ asks Miles to consider if his relationship with Kate is the real thing, or just high school dating. The audience has no was of knowing that, and therefore can’t tell if Miles telling her is the right move. This is a very engaging approach to this story. Miles telling her could go either way.
Okay, the cliffhanger. Miles returns to his father’s apartment and runs into a very-not-dead Peter Parker. The same long-haired, blue-hooded individual who was spying on him in Ultimate #200. It’s a great visual, and for a second I wanted to believe it, but I don’t. While the character refers to himself as the “original” Spider-Man, I can’t help but think a marketing exec at Marvel would have promoted this return, given the sales numbers of Amazing no.1. However this does leave the audience guessing. If this isn’t Peter Parker, who us he?
Grade- C: A luke-warm opening chapter. The characters and situations are compelling, but I was looking for more from an opening issue. Miles is only in costume when he goes to visit MJ, and the action sequences in this issue are hardly the series best to date.