“This is — I don’t want to be the black Spider-Man. I want to be Spider-Man.”
Spidey vs. Blackheart, round 2! Is an even more sinister threat lurking in the wings?
WRITER: Brian Michael Bendis
ARTIST: Sara Pichelli
INKING ASSIST: Gaetano Carlucci
COLORS: Justin Ponsor
LETTERING: VC’s Cory Petit
COVER ART: Sara Pichelli and Justin Ponsor
VARIANT COVER ARTISTS: Khary Randolph and Emilio Lopez
TITLE PAGE DESIGN: Idette Winecoor
ASSISTANT EDITOR: Devin Lewis
EDITOR: Nick Lowe
STORY: Spider-Man (Peter) yells at Spider-Man (Miles), as he starts to reconsider the blessing he gave at some unspecified point. Blackheart reemerges, quickly taking out Peter and Miles defeats him again. The Avengers wake up and let Miles go home. A video blogger gets excited that Miles’ skin is brown under his torn costume. Black Cat does push ups in front of the television. Miles comes home to find out he is in trouble with his grandmother over his falling grades.
THOUGHTS: Picking up where last issue left off, Peter is being a condescending jerk, blaming Miles for the destruction around him. It really didn’t sit well with me. He really seems to be putting him down. It doesn’t help that I don’t have much in the way of context for their current relationship. Given some later dialogue, it seems that Spider-Men has happened, but really, who knows? I really wish it would be addressed, be it on the title page or the letters column how Miles’ origin and backstory is viewed and has changed.
Regardless of whatever passes as Miles’ new backstory, I can’t see the Peter Parker I grew up reading treating a teenager in this fashion, especially given all the false accusations he himself has dealt with over the years. Based on Spider-Men and Secret Wars, hasn’t Miles earned the benefit of the doubt? I understand Peter feeling there are too many Spiders and that he has a brand to protect, but this is overboard. If he is so worried, why not take him under his wing at Parker Industries and be more of a mentor? Miles would probably be more receptive to tutelage and help than Miguel has proven to be over in the 2099 title.
One line that did work for me was Peter’s comment when he was inquiring about the color of the demon that Miles faced. Surprise, surprise, he hates the red one. Us, too, Pete. Us, too. Nine years later, and One More Day is still an awful story that looms over the Spider-Verse, one that the character still hasn’t recovered from, in this reviewer’s opinion.
I found it odd that Peter tells Miles to get out of there, based on the fact that his costume is ripped and people might recognize him. For those who haven’t read the issue, the only part damaged at this point is a tear on the shoulder. No part of his face is exposed. All one could tell is the color of his skin and that there aren’t any distinguishing marks or tattoos there. Who, out of the 8,000,000 estimated New Yorkers could identify him from that?
Peter then segues this into a conversation about the duplicate identities issue. The scene flashes back to months ago, with Pichelli again shifting her style to a more cartoony tone, like she did with the panels depicting Miles’ imagination last issue. At a full two pages this outing, it stands out a lot more than in the prior issue where it was only two separate panels, pages apart. The art itself is cute, but I think it’s too cute for an older, more mature Miles. I was on the fence last time and now I think I may be falling off it, and not in favor of the effect they are trying to pull. It was a nice touch having Peter give a pointer about always pulling out a robot’s A.I. unit, tho.
Both in the flashback and in the present, Peter points out how the other Spiders have a cooler costume than him. Excuse me?????? The original was excellent and you have no one to blame (outside of Alex Ross) if you don’t like the new one you designed AFTER you’ve seen everyone else’s versions!
In true horror movie fashion, Blackheart emerges from behind Peter, setting off both Spideys’ senses! I love the perspective and staging Pichelli used! Blackheart is towering and imposing compared to Peter, who is sitting down whilst whining about how he gets blamed for enough stuff. As the fight renews, Pichelli’s dynamic art shines, but the story falters. Already warned by his Spider-Sense, Peter leaps out of the way…and this graceful fighter with years of experience lands on his head, knocking himself out. Fortunately for him, Miles has this covered. Basically going by “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, he utilizes the same method as last issue, but more of. I don’t know why I always forget Miles has a camo mode, but I do. Combining that with venom blasts and Cap’s shield, we get a big demon faceplant. My favorite line from the issue is Miles stating he wishes he had a band so he could name it that.
With Blackheart down for the count again, it’s safe for the Avengers to wake up. Miles is happy to get praise from Cap, who doesn’t seem the least bit perturbed that Miles used his shield. Peter should take note of that given the way he scolded Miles. Iron Man, thinking he’s Deadpool, breaks the fourth wall with a “Demon in a Bottle” joke. Bendis continues to have Tony channel his inner Robert Downey, Jr.
After giving Miles such a hard time, Peter tells a cop to show the latest Spider-Man some respect. It’s great that he is now sticking up for him, but conflicts with his earlier actions. Their meeting in Spider-Men gets a nod and Peter reiterates to Miles that with great power there must also come great responsibility. I found it funny that he said no one gets it right. So, after Peter lectures Miles about responsibility, he tells Miles to run away from the mess that he contributed to. Great way to reinforce the lesson, Pete. The thoughtful way Tony strokes his goatee makes me think that this issue takes place before the current team forms in All New, All Different Avengers. I miss the days when a witty editor’s note would fill you in on little facts like that.
Miles heads back to his dorm to fill Ganke in on what just happened. In a lot of ways, Miles feels more like classic Peter Parker-he has trouble with school and girls, trouble that is made more difficult thanks to his dual life as Spidey. No money issues yet, but he’s also still very young and it’s not really a responsibility for him at this time. In contrast, Peter currently is the CEO of his own corporation and is jet setting across the globe which is pretty far away from where Stan Lee left the character. Granted, Lee never left Peter stagnant and had him not only age, but grow as well. If it came down to what feels like a Spider-Man book to me, though, I’m going with this title over the current Amazing.
Having said that, Miles is Miles and not Peter. I think a profound difference is that he can go to his dorm to talk things out with Ganke. He can go home and get support from his dad. Peter, despite a decent sized cast of characters, started off very alone. He had no one to talk to when he first started out, shouldering the responsibility on his own. Later he could talk to MJ and May before that was taken away again, but that early solitude that he felt made him a more melancholy character at times, especially if you compare his early days with Miles. The dynamic Miles can have with those in on his secret is something that makes this book more enjoyable to me and I like that Bendis lets him be that enthusiastic teen with Ganke, totally freaked out that he touched a demon.
It’s Ganke who has the time to look up all things super-hero as Miles is out saving the world and he comes across a very excited YouTuber who is beside herself that the newest Spider-Man is “a kid of color”. Bendis gives Miles the perfect response- “Uh…and she cares why?” It’s a very weird and sensitive issue. We should hopefully live in a time when it doesn’t matter, yet sadly we still haven’t quite reached it. It’s often been said that Spider-Man can be one of the most relatable heroes because of the mask. Anyone can identify and project themselves underneath it. Paul Jenkins did a great issue of Peter Parker Spider-Man #35 where he covered just such a topic.
Miles understandably doesn’t want the qualification of being Black Spider-Man, even pointing out he’s half Hispanic. One of the many problems with this is that Marvel over the last few years has created a plethora of Spider-Men/Women/Girls/Animals. Just off the top of my head we have Irish/Hispanic Spidey, Indian Spidey, British Spidey, Pig Spidey, Old Spidey, Girl Spidey, Woman Spidey, Cyborg Spidey, Mexican Wrestler Spidey, African God Spidey, Punk Spidey, Manga Spidey, 2211 Spidey, Assassin Spidey, and dozens more. From one point of view, it’s a way to distinguish which Spidey you’re talking about if you’re the general public who has no idea who’s under the mask. For Miles though, where things have “settled down” to him, Peter, and Miguel going by the name Spider-Man on the same earth and the same time period, I can see why he just wants his identity to be who he is and not what he looks like. As a teen, he’s just trying to figure out who he is and do the right thing and you can tell that he holds Peter with reverence. Again, we’re unclear about his full point of view, though. Did he copy Peter when he got bit or does his origin of taking up the mantle after Ultimate Peter died still stand?
I’m curious where Bendis is going to take this issue and what Marvel has planned down the road. I like that we have so many flavors of Spidey, in fact, I’m reviewing three of them for this very site, but is it too much? Have we reached an over-saturation point? I certainly don’t feel compelled to collect or read them all. Is too much choice going to help or hinder the character in the long run? How long before Marvel realizes that much like having Peter in Portland, having him not in New York doesn’t work and he returns to the Big Apple? Presumably Miguel will return to 2099 at some point, but would Peter and Miles become regular supporting characters in each other’s books?
Bendis has a news pundit address this very issue when the Black Cat is working out in front of the TV. It definitely felt like he was going meta to me with these last few pages. Pichelli’s “camerawork” is masterful as she slowly pushes into Felicia with each panel until we get to the close up of her face. Each panel has her in a different push-up position, too, and a bottle of milk is at the ready by her side. The room is lit by the glow of the TV and the whole page is ominous and excellent!
The final page has Miles returning home to his parents. Pichelli strikes again with the body language her art portrays, be it Miles’ look of shock or the “you’re in trouble” posture that his mom and grandmother have as he enters the room! I’m hoping we get to see a little more of his new home dynamic next time.
I was happy to see a letters page, entitled “Web-heads” at the end of the issue! It’s a grand tradition and while I understand it may not seem as valuable in this age of internet message boards and social media, I welcome its inclusion with open arms. Andrei even asks for an explanation of how Miles took the Spider-Mantle to which Devin replied, “Keep reading!!”
I’m pretty torn on what grade to give this issue. On one hand, the art, ink, colors, and letters are excellent, but the story let me down, particularly how Peter was portrayed and how the universe is still undefined in what actually came before. Based on the letter column reply, I need to give that issue some time, so I suppose it’s not fair to knock it for that, but I had to give a lot of leeway to that during Ultimate End and it didn’t pan out exactly. The big sticking point is how Peter came off toward Miles and I can see the internet hate building for the fact that Miles is so amazing that he could defeat Blackheart all by himself whilst the Avengers were beaten into unconsciousness. At the end of the day, Peter feels out of character to how I used to know him and it affected my enjoyment of this issue. The Miles stuff was superb as always, but the brief departure in art style, whilst well done and fun to look at, felt too much like the Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon and stood out from the tone of the rest of the book for me.
MY GRADE: C+
JAVI’S HUH?: A cop pulled a gun on all the Avengers. Really? I had a hard time buying a nervous rookie would do such a thing to well known heroes, even if Miles is new to him.
A friend pointed out to me (Hey, Eric!) that Peter wouldn’t believe that Miles survived a demon attack, but is totally accepting that he beat up all the Avengers solo.