Super Miles, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.!!! Actually, Jefferson fills his son in on his past working undercover for S.H.I.E.L.D. The scene depicted in the cover does in NO WAY HAPPEN.
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: David Marquez
Color: Justin Ponsor
Lettering: VC’s Cory Petit
Cover Art: David Marquez with Justin Ponsor
Production: Irene Y. Lee
Assistant Editor: Emily Shaw
Editor: Mark Paniccia
Story: Jefferson continues his tale of infiltrating Wilson Fisk’s gang, leading to the future Kingpin’s arrest for MGH trafficking! Miles and his dad then reconcile, hoping they get a year break from the drama of their lives.
Thoughts: Another review of Miles Morales, The Ultimate Spider-Man, another review of me trying to say the same thing in a different way. I loved this issue, like most of the 8 before it. We start off with Miles and his dad, Jefferson, sitting on a park bench. Miles lets his dad know that he’s had some run ins with S.H.I.E.L.D., but no one has mentioned his father to him, no one except for Norman Osborn. Jefferson clearly knows of Norman, but what the relationship would be, if any, is unclear. So whilst Bendis does divulge about Jefferson’s past, anything regarding the Goblin’s claims about Miles’ origins will have to wait for another issue.
Marquez starts the issue off with his usual, beautiful trademark photorealism. He gives us a great two page spread to start with and I noticed something in his second panel-Miles seems to have grown! He usually gets depicted as pretty diminutive, especially when contrasted against other costumed types, but sitting on the bench with his dad, it seems like he’s hit a bit of a teenage growth spurt. It’s a nice touch that I hope we see reflected not only here, but in other titles that he appears in. He’ll be “4” this August so, even with a rolling timeline, it’s nice to see him age just a little bit.
After a quick two page stop in the present, Bendis throws us back to the past and Marquez hits us with a MASSIVE splash page focusing on the future Kingpin of Crime, Wilson Fisk. I mean, Fisk just LOOMS over the reader and his girth weighs heavily on the page. As the scene plays we get a few shots where Fisk’s eyes are just these jagged black, evil pools of hate. It’s been a while since I’ve found the character menacing, but the creative team pulls it off here.
The Kingpin scene is followed with another splash, this time in a montage. The Club 2099 logo makes another appearance, but we don’t get a further look or insight into the club or how it landed its moniker from a story perspective. I really want a better glimpse to see why it’s named what it is. Is there a “Nueva York” room? It looked like a run of the mill club last issue. It’s funny to think of Spidey’s dad being the fourth Enforcer and this page evokes Goodfellas to me when Jefferson details how all they have to do is name drop the Kingpin and things happen, no muss, no fuss.
Jefferson has had enough of the life, though, and wants out. He meets with Fury to tell him so, but Fury implores him to stay the course. It was in this scene that I really started to pick up on the similarity of Marquez’s work to that of Frank Miller and Klaus Janson in the 80s. To me it looks like something out of Daredevil or The Dark Knight Returns. You can see Marquez’s typical line work break thru, but there is a definite Miller influence. Everything comes off dark and seedy and the shift in art catches the tone and danger Jefferson feels.
Finally we find out why Jefferson has been placed inside Fisk’s organization. The Kingpin and his Enforcers meet with a man who wants to be called Toad. Fisk scoffs at this, stating he’s a grown-up. Funny, coming from a guy who already has someone with Ox as a moniker and will later employ an Electro. It’s a subtle note as to how things will change in the years to come for this world.
Toad is selling MGH, mutant growth hormone. Fisk directs Jefferson to try it out and my first thought was what if it changed his DNA and that contributed to Miles becoming Spider-Man? However, that question quickly went away as Jefferson refused, leading to Ox being the guinea pig. Ox grows to an enormous size, but the show and tell isn’t over yet. Toad whips out his source of MHG, a fellow mutant restrained to a chair.
Jefferson has a problem with this and he and Toad get in an altercation when Toad insinuates that he’s sure being sold is how Jefferson came to be in America. As Fisk steps in to break it up, Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. swoop in and shut the whole nascent operation down. As Jefferson explains to Miles, Fisk does go up the river for a while and the mutant drug trade gets stopped.
Jefferson’s tale comes to an end as we switch back to the park bench in the present. Marquez goes back to his usual style as Jefferson relates to Miles how he turned down the offer to stay on as a real agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. and within a week met his mother at a physical therapist’s office.
Things get very personal as Jefferson elaborates how meeting Rio changed his life and gave him an ideal to strive for and a son to love. He goes on to say how the world started to take Miles away from him and how the fear crept in on what would come at Miles at the same age when he made bad decisions. He professes to not blaming Miles for the death of Rio and confesses to not being over the loss of her and his brother, Aaron. He also is regretful at times for not joining S.H.I.E.L.D., feeling he was unworthy. That feeling of unworthiness magnifies over abandoning Miles after learning his secret and reading Jefferson pour his heart out struck a chord. I feel for the guy. As a dad myself, I worry about my kids all the time, that maybe I’ve taken the wrong path that could’ve made things better for them and like Jefferson, I see myself reflected in them, too. For me, the scene pulls at the heart strings and gets me choked up, especially to see Jefferson get all of this out of his system to find Miles being accepting of it all, tears welling up in his eyes, expertly rendered by Marquez.
The final panel finds Jefferson and Miles on the bench looking out over the city, with Miles stating they should be good for a whole year of no drama after all they’ve been thru. Knowing Secret Wars is on the horizon this obviously isn’t going to happen, but it’s a classic Spider-Man moment and had this been an episode of Spectacular Spider-Man, the skyline would’ve gone to red with a web cast over it as the theme quietly swelled.
I greatly enjoyed the look back at Jefferson’s history these last two issues. His past has been a mystery since Miles donned the webs and I’m happy to see them strengthen their bond as father and son. I’m looking forward to what are presumably the last three issues of this title and I’m curious if Bendis is actually going to be able to tie up the Hydra/Katie and Fly Twins subplots, not to mention are we ever going to find out if there is anything going on with Ganke and Gwen?
My Grade: A+
Javi’s Huh?: How did Jefferson get out from the Kingpin’s organization? I’m sure Fisk would’ve wanted him to return once he started to put things back together after his incarceration and that he would’ve found out Jefferson was out meeting women a week after the bust happened.