Spider-Man #13 (2016) Review


“Your dad is a bad guy called The Scorpion?”

Miles’ adventures on Earth-65 continue as he finds out his dad or dad’s doppelganger is…The Scorpion!?!?!

WRITER: Brian Michael Bendis

ARTIST: Sara Pichelli

COLOR ARTIST: Justin Ponsor

LETTERING: VC’s Cory Petit

COVER ART: Sara Pichelli and Jason Keith

TITLE PAGE DESIGN: Idette Winecoor

ASSISTANT EDITOR: Allison Stock

ASSOCIATE EDITOR: Devin Lewis

EDITOR: Nick Lowe

STORY: Miles continues his narrative to Fabio and Ganke. He picks up with meeting a man who looks very much like his father, but is it his dad, or the Jefferson of Earth-65? Either way, he’s billing himself as the Scorpion and assaults Miles after he unmasks and calls him dad. This leads to a big altercation that climaxes with the Scorpion and his men getting arrested. Miles and Gwen then hop back to the 616.

THOUGHTS: I was shocked to find that there is only one cover this month. I would’ve thought for sure there would be variant upon variant for this storyline. Where’s the J. Scott Campbell cover? Anyways, Pichelli is doing her usual fine job and something like this kinda happens in the story even!

Bendis once again frames the issue with the narrative device of Miles regaling his friends with his otherworldly adventures. I’m curious how this will read once collected into a trade. It would’ve made for a fun structure if each chapter was Miles and Gwen telling their respective friends their side of the story, but as it’s one sided I’m curious if it will eventually read as uneven, or if you’ll just assume the Gwen parts are part of Miles’ conversation.

By telling the story this way, Bendis has Ganke and Fabio speak for the readers, with mixed results. Fabio, an X-Man, delivers some exposition by being awestruck that there are other earths and dimensions, to which his friends call him out on it.  It just doesn’t ring true and makes for meaningless dialogue for dialogue’s sake. Furthermore, Fabio wants to get back to talking about Miles’ dad, The Scorpion of Earth-65, to which Ganke is incredulous about. To Fabio, it was painfully obvious that Jefferson was the villain, but for Ganke and this reviewer, not so much, not off only one panel. When we do see Jefferson again, the pointed cane is more of a giveaway, but it was not made expressly clear in part two.

Ganke later espouses possibly theories as to who, or what, this Jefferson is, and it comes off like Bendis trying to recount all the possibilities a reader would come up with. His suppositions take up an entire page, only to have Fabio tell him to just wait for Miles to tell them which he never does. What saves this page is the expressions Pichelli provides on their faces, particularly how perturbed Miles gets with his friend’s prattling.

Having Jefferson, whichever version he is, being The Scorpion is inspired. He’s got a great aesthetic with the cane as his “tail” with the hook end being the requisite stinger. That’s not his only trick either as he has some vest or armor that can deliver  an electrical blast from his chest, paralleling Miles’ venom blast. He’s definitely powerful, cold-cocking Miles, laying him out. Not to mention, he takes several blows to the head from the Spider-Friends as well. No way he could withstand that without something augmenting him. With the loyalty of his men, it’s easy to see why Murdock feels threatened and wants him eliminated.

Also, having a Jefferson be The Scorpion brings an emotional component to Miles’ internal struggle. Aside from the obvious of “I’ve got to fight my dad”, it plays into the darkness Miles has confessed he feels inside himself. With his uncle being the Ultimate Prowler, his own father’s shady past as an undercover agent, and now an alternate earth dad as a super-villain, this is just more fuel for his self-doubt.

To be honest, I didn’t care for Miles being down on himself this issue. Yes, Spider-Man has typically been a hero who may have doubts about if he’s doing the right thing or is good enough and I can appreciate Miles’ dilemma when it comes to resolving his mission. He’s looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack with really no way to track his dad down and no leads other that S.H.I.E.L.D. thinking he may be on Earth-65. What irked me though was his lack of confidence, particularly when he compared himself to Gwen.

There’s nothing wrong with Miles being impressed by Gwen, and I can see that leading to feelings or an infatuation with her, but with all the experience he’s had, it didn’t ring true that he would look at her and think that he has a long way to go to get to her level, which is still kind of at novice. He’s been at this for years now, survived Secret Wars , taken down Blackheart after Blackheart defeated ALL the Avengers, and used a web shaped venom blast to escape the clutches of Black Cat and Hammerhead. He shouldn’t be selling himself so short. He must’ve been really impressed.

Bendis did excel at conveying Miles’ dilemma and showing Gwen’s ingenuity with the portal. The officers of Earth-65 being confused by another Spider was a nice touch and so was the quick glimpse at the world where Apokolypse rides a mutant spider, surrounded by variations of Spidey’s doppelganger reject from Infinity War.

The highlight for me by far was Pichelli’s pencils. Aided by Ponsor’s colors, this is probably the best looking issue of this title. Layouts are energetic and cinematic with bold coloring. Ponsor perfectly depicts the distinctive shadings of Earth-65, particularly the setting and alternating colors of Club Scorpion. Pichelli has Gwen’s boots rendered accurately inside (a big deal to me) and Miles and Gwen emote perfectly through their masks.

I really enjoyed the SPIDER-MAN team’s take on Earth-65 and am looking forward to Latour, Rodriguez, & Co. getting to play around in Miles’ world next chapter. Despite some writing caveats, I had a good time reading this comic and the crossover as a whole is shaping up to be fun.

MY GRADE: B+

JAVI”S HUH?: Seriously, how can Fabio not know there are other earths? What do they teach at Xavier’s school?!?

(1) Comment

  1. Frontier

    I completley missed that Earth-65 Jefferson's cane had a stinger at the end of it. I couldn't figure out why they were calling him "The Scorpion." I think Miles was impressed by Gwen because, despite his experience, he's relied so much on his Venom Blast that he's not as used to improvising in a fight or fighting on your fight like Gwen is (or Peter would be). But that's just me.

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