Spider-Man #2 (2016) Review


image“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.image

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. image

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? image

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! image

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. image

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. image

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. image

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? image

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. image

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. image

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.image 

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. 

(11) Comments

  1. captain frugal

    I miss MC2. I think that they need to leave characters alone and if they want to change them drastically they should do it in a new universe. Having both Peter and Miles with the same hero name just seems silly.

  2. Al

    @#9: Well that isn’t true. In 2005 we had 616, Ultimate and MC2 all co-existing. There is no reason the same couldn’t apply again but with 2099 added into the mix. You wouldn’t even need whole universes. I’ve never seen the rationale that the Ultimate Universe as a whole was failing so it was time to bury the whole thing. Why not cancel everything EXCEPT for the stuff that was working? Why did Miles Morales’ continued publication in the Ultimate Universe depend upon other Ultimate books selling? That wasn’t the case for Spider-Girl. For the longest time she was the one and only MC2 title being published. Why not make 2099 and the Ultimate Universe the same thing, the exclusive playground of Miles Morales and Miguel O’Hara, where they don’t have to be caught up on constant events and crossovers. I agree though that Peter should be the one and only Spider-Man in 616. No I agree about the aging and progression thing. If Peter like aged to his mid-40s after a few decades whilst a protégé was built up alongside him (his kid, maybe Miles) and then they took over that’d work great. I’ve suggested this before but circa 2007 Peter was about 30 and baby May would’ve been like 5. That means in 10 years he would’ve been 40 and if you allowed him to progress at Marvel time speeds you could have 30+ years of Peter as Spider-Man in new life situations whilst you developed and groomed May to eventually take over when she hit age 15, moving Peter into a support role. I firmly believe the times when legacies work out the best is when the original was retired respectfully and when the replacement is someone who’s got some credibility behind them, like Wally West or with Steel.

  3. Scott

    @#8 You're right about multiple Spideys in print. I wasn't being very clear when I said "only one Spider-Man". I'm okay with only one "Spider-Man per universe". The problem is, there is only one universe (for the most part) and in mainstream Marvel there can be only Peter Parker as Spider-Man, at least for me. Ben or Kaine can be Scarlet Spider, Mayday can be Spider-Girl in her own universe, Miguel and Miles can be Spidey in their own universe, but in 616 or whatever the heck it is now, Peter needs to be Spider-Man. To me it's as simple as asking someone "who is Spider-Man?" 99% of the time the answer will be "Peter Parker". It's a safe assumption that the majority of us aren't fans of the character because of Miles Morales, Ben Reilly, Miguel O'Hara or anyone else, it's because of Peter. Maybe someone else being Spider-Man wouldn't be so jarring, if Peter was, I don't know, allowed to age and progress. If Peter were to be middle-aged, married, a father and perhaps even physically unable to be Spider-Man (sounds familiar, Spider-Girl) maybe a replacement wouldn't seem so bad/forced, it might even feel natural. Modern comics can't progress because the characters can't progress. Sorry, I know I'm ranting, but it's so frustrating being a comic book reader. There are such simplistic answers to things most of the time, but we have to go the most bizarre, backwards and illogical routes to get to a desired outcome. It would be easier and perhaps more sane to devote my spare time trying to actually clone myself than trying to figure out how comics work ;).

  4. Al

    @#6: See that’s why I never liked smashing the universes together in the first place. It creates all these problems. But it’s a damned if you do damned if you don’t situation. It’s confusing and muddied right now, made worse because they haven’t properly talked about it (Bendis has just confirmed Miles remembers everything and everything since 2011 happened for him in the Ult Universe) but at the same time if you change his origin you’ve now replaced Miles with a different version, rebooting him. And what’s worse you’ve just completely screwed up his origin story because you lose the legacy idea. I think that’s why they did the 8 months later thing. According to Bendis Miles basically adjusted to life in the new universe during that time period. Which I feel is seriously unrealistic and if it did happen is something we absolutely should’ve seen. A compromise to this whole situation might be that yeah Miles history is the same as it always was but maybe in his own mind and the minds of everyone else they just remember it differently. Like if you were to go back in time down Miles’ personal history you’d wind back up in the Ultimate Universe, but in his head he and his family have a whole history in 616 which doesn’t include his mother dying. We the readers know what he’s done and where he came from, he just doesn’t. I don’t like that idea personally but it’d be more manageable than this right now. Maybe a better idea would’ve just been to follow up on Spider-Men and introduce the 616 version of Miles, maybe pull an Iron Man situation and have 616 Miles merge with the Ultimate Miles or inherit his memories or something so effectively we have a version of Miles in 616 who’s got all the personal qualities of the original but none of the dimensional baggage stuff. Most likely though I expect Marvel are just gonna straight up ignore this and press on ahead like they did with Peter after OMD. I mean we still don’t know what happened to the powers he got in the Other. @#7: I feel you can have multiple characters called Spider-Man in publication but not in the context of the same universe. I feel the same way about Miguel being in the present day. It’s better for Peter, Miles and Miguel to be the definitive Spider-Mans of their respective worlds where they can have greater creative freedom. I mean with Miles since his creation he’s been buffeted between events and crossovers almost half the time he’s been published and I’d rather he not be forced into that crap and just have events about him specifically. It’s like what happeeed to 2099 before ANAD Marvel launched. It was 12 issues where literally just SIX of them were focussed upon Miguel and his personal subplots as opposed to being tie-ins or set ups for other events.

  5. Scott

    @#5 I agree that Ben could have worked, I just don't think two characters, both claiming to be Spider-Man, would work (nor does it currently work, for me at least). @#3 Kid Arachnid? That's both amusing and a little sad. Then again, that's the USM cartoon for you.

  6. Donovan

    Man I really don't see anything wrong with how Peter was talking to Miles in this. Yeah he was a bit smarmy, but his body language came off as very reserved and cool-headed. He was asking questions and never really thoughts against Miles, but he was taking it slowly. @#5 Al: If that's truly the "origin" for some of the alt. universe characters, that shit needs to be streamlined pronto.

  7. Al

    Miles’ origin and backstory is exactly the same. The way Seret Wars worked is that some character migrated over to the 616 universe and their minds and the minds of those around them were altered to make them believe they’d always been there, probably with something akin to the psychic blindspot to make people not think too hard about it. For Miles in particular though according to Bendis he remembers absolutely everything. He is aware he comes from the Ultimate Universe. Also just as an aside, technically OMD was 8 years ago. Rememeber it finished in like Dec 2007/Jan 2008. In defence of Peter’s attitude towards his outfit, Peter has always felt his costume was kinda dorky since he created it as a teenager. Until the symbiote business he always felt the black suit looked cooler. As for the issue overall, yeah Peter is a dbag and kind of incompetent and Miles is frankly ridiculously over powered at everyone else’s expense. Peter himself would struggle against Blackheart so a younger inexperienced Spider-Man is not winning that fight. I like that Miles has confidants the way Peter initially doesn’t as well. It makes him more different although more similar to Ultimate Peter Parker. But I kinda think Ult Peter shouldn’t have had confidants so early on anyway so...whatever. It also reminds me a lot of Spider-Girl who had her parents to talk to. I think Peter’s relatability comes less from his mask and more from his personality and lifestyle. Anyone of any gender, sex, sexuality or ethnicity can relate to his struggles because they are mostly universal. One of the reasons the MP trilogy is so potent is because that rubble he lifts off himself can symbolize anything you want. Anyone can project onto that machinery any burden or struggle they themselves have experienced. I think it’s undeniable that we have too many Spider-People. We need to trim them down but it’s less a matter of removing them and more reorganizing them. It’s why I am opposed to Miles and Miguel and Silk being in 616 NYC. Silk should be in another city and Miles and Miguel should be in their own worlds like Spider-Gwen where they can be unique and the definitive Spider-Men of their worlds. I don’t think Miles and Peter should become supporting characters in their own books. That set up is difficult to manage and it isn’t like Miles is Robin to Peter’s Batman. He really is supposed to be his own operator. The lesser evil would to have their books more or less not mention one another most of the time. The news scene though I felt was Bendis being a dick as he’s mocking entirely valid criticisms. @#2: Peter and Ben could’ve co-existed if Ben had remained the young hip and single Scarlet Spider, probably operating outside of NYC whilst Peter was the traditional Spider-Man but a married father. Two different status quos with two different characters. Ben could even have had his own unique rogue’s gallery even if he had remained in New York. I think though an essential difference between him and Miles is that because he is a clone of Peter everything he does is a reflection of Peter so we see new sides of Pete because Ben is Pete but a Peter who’s lived a very different life. it’s a nature nurture thing.

  8. Enigma_2099

    Hey Peter, before you start condemning others for perceived mistakes, GET YOUR OWN F******' LIFE SORTED OUT!!!!

  9. Will

    On a related note, Miles in the latest episode of the Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon is now calling himself "Kid Arachnid"

  10. Scott

    When I was a young kid, back in the 90s, we had the whole Clone thing going on. It's funny to me how, as time has gone on, a lot of the clone hate has dissipated. Anyway, back then I really loved Peter (obviously) and Ben, but two Spider-Men were just too many, it would confuse fans. Now we have so many Spider-people running around it literally isn't funny. This isn't a Miles thing, it's just Spider-Man has been really, really bad (for the most part) since One More Day and there are WAY too many people with spider powers. Peter, Miles, Gwen, Miguel, Kaine, Mayday, Spider-Woman etc. Peter is so unlike Spider-Man right now it's ridiculous. Back in the 90s, I loved Ben Reilly a lot, but he was always the Scarlet Spider to me, there is ONE Spider-Man, his name is Peter Parker. It's time we got back to basics, back to ONE Spider-Man named Peter Parker. I have no hatred against Miles, but he's not Spider-Man, no matter what I'm told to believe by Bendis and others. Did we learn nothing from the Clone Saga?

  11. Bill

    Man, I am so glad all this crap wasn't happening in comics when I was younger. I hate derivative characters. I don't even like Spider Woman, or She-Hulk, etc. So, this is my ultimate nightmare. Two different characters, both calling themselves Spider-Man, with essentially the same powers, running around the Marvel U at the same time. What the hell are they thinking?? Wow!!! Talk about ruining Spider-Man for me, pretty much forever. It's like someone reached into my brain and pulled out everything I would hate to ever see them do to Spider-Man -- and then they did it. If you went back in time to when I was like 20 years old, and told me that someday I would hate Spider-Man comics so much that I would be forced to quit reading them, (because they had just gotten that bad). I would have said you were crazy. What could possibly be so bad that it would turn me off of Spider-Man? ME! One of the biggest Spider-Man fans on earth. But, here we are. Thanks Brian Bendis and Dan Slott! Destroyers of all that was once good in the world.

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