“I could feel my hands squeezing the life out of his chain-mail-covered neck.”
You will believe that a Spider-Man can cry, that an Iron Man can die, and that a writer will make you sigh!
WRITER: Brian Michael Bendis
ARTIST: Nico Leon
COLOR ARTISTS: Marte Gracia & Rachelle Rosenberg
LETTERER: VC’s Cory Petit
COVER ARTISTS: Sara Pichelli & Jason Keith
TITLE PAGE DESIGN: Nicholas Russell
ASSISTANT EDITOR: Allison Stock
ASSOCIATE EDITOR: Devin Lewis
EDITOR: Nick Lowe
STORY: Ganke covertly sneaks back into his dorm to find Miles. Miles is very upset and fills Ganke in on what’s been happening. As he does this, they are joined by Fabio and Ms. Marvel. He tells them about the supposed death of Tony Stark and how Miles feels there is a darkness inside him, possibly inherited from his family. As his friends reassure him, Jefferson, listening outside the door, turns away in shame.
THOUGHTS: Pichelli once again graces this title with a cover, with rumor (i.e. solicits) that she will return to full art chores for the next few issues. It’s got a lot of Civil War players on the cover, but at least half don’t make an actual appearance in the pages that follow. Still, it’s more on point than last month’s Venom cover.
This issue was once again a bit of a mixed bag for me. Ganke finally finds Miles in their dorm room. The timing seems a bit off based on where everyone was last issue-Ganke was on a roof in New York when he found out Miles was already in DC. Both he and Danika witnessed Stark zoom by them as he headed to his fate, yet somehow the next issue of Civil War II played out and Miles got back to their home in the time it took Ganke to get from whatever roof he was on back to the same dorm room! I do applaud Bendis for allowing Leon to show how traumatized Miles is in the art. Not only does it show how much this is affecting him, but also that he is still very young, but not afraid to reveal his true feelings in front of his closest friend.
It’s also showing his emotions that I take umbrage with, or more specifically, the lack thereof. Ganke once again says Miles is a “hot mess.” Bendis has repeatedly had Ganke mention this over the course of this volume, yet nowhere have we seen definitive proof of this beyond the typical Spider trouble of trying to make the dual identity work amidst the juggling of school, personal life, and super-heroics. Over in Spider-Man 2099 Peter David has shown us a Miguel who has increasingly had anger issues, be it pummeling Man Mountain Marko, or getting hostile with Peter Parker. Miguel has even come to this realization himself in his thought captions. Bendis has done the opposite. Not only have we not seen Miles go out of control, his inner monologue has given us no such inkling, even through the increased stress of Civil War II. Ganke even has the gall to ask Miles if he did kill Steve Cap, but as a reader we’ve been given nothing to even consider this as something Miles could potentially do, making Ganke seem like he doesn’t know his lifelong friend as well as us.
Bendis does hit the mark on a few things. I feel like Ganke speaks to fan speculation when he considers the possibility that maybe Captain America “was secretly, like, a bad dude, or something”, with the vision pertaining to Miles finding out. Also, the standoffs, both with the police and later with the Captains Marvel and America are suitably tense. Considering Miles has the proportionate strength, speed, and agility of a spider, I was still worried how he was going to get out of that situation. Leon really made the gun aimed at Miles feel very threatening.
I confess to not reading anything with Ms. Marvel outside her appearances in these pages, so I’m definitely not an expert in how she should be characterized. However, her remark about throwing up if she saw Ganke naked seemed out of place, even if it’s something a teenager might say. It was a weird and unnecessary break in the tension as Ganke had to defend himself and feels very insensitive in a book where we’ve spent time addressing body weight issues and how men can be affected by them as well.
When the gang finally gets all together and Miles continues his tale, Leon again impresses with his art. He really lets you feel Miles’ heartbreak, despite his more cartoony style. The problem remains though with Bendis’ writing. As Miles goes into his page long monologue (which is comparable to three pages for anyone else) he starts expressing all these dark thoughts he’s been having inside and how every day he has to contain and control himself. These are some pretty violent thoughts and not once has Miles expressed his desire to pull someone’s head off. It comes out of nowhere. He also mentions his uncle Aaron (finally!) and that his dad had a checkered past. I can see how he’s worried that there may be a darkness inside him, but this speech reveals a darker side we haven’t seen.
It also feels very repetitive and leaves the reader wondering once again what is continuity for Miles. Was Aaron the Prowler? Did Jefferson’s secret history still unfold as it did in the Ultimate Universe? Bendis has touched on these themes before, but finding out that Miles is repressing homicidal tendencies comes out of the blue. As a kid, Bendis has definitely shown how awestruck Miles has been around other Avengers and Peter Parker, but thoughts of robbing and killing? It’s unearned, especially his feelings towards his father. Jefferson told Miles how he was undercover S.H.I.E.L.D. and they made peace with that. Was all that erased post Secret Wars and Bendis gets to remix it next issue? Seems like a waste and too soon to rehash. Ganke surprised me with his thoughts of Jefferson, too. I get trying to console his friend, but they seemed pretty harsh. What has Jefferson ever done to show that he was a bad guy to Ganke?
I’m glad that we’re done crossing over with Civil War II. The delays have hindered this book, to say nothing of how the storyline has impacted Miles. Once again, a Marvel Civil War has led to some inorganic characterizations, but maybe I’m biased still from the last one. I appreciate how Bendis has tried to bring up the theme of profiling and it’s a difficult topic to broach without seeming preachy. I just feel like it comes of as underdeveloped in a storyline where we spent an issue looking for our hero. We’re almost a year in and this book still seems to be finding it’s direction, which is odd as Bendis should know Miles better than anyone.
MY GRADE: C
JAVI”S HUH?: Is next issue Spider-Gwen or Jefferson’s secret S.H.I.E.L.D history 2.0? This issue has it teased both ways.
A bit of a nitpick here-Miles is pretty graphic on how he killed Captain America, which in no way is reflected in Marquez’s art. Also, Leon’s doesn’t capture Marquez’s either! Cap is no longer impaled! That’s three versions of what happened in the same issue!