Spider-Man #18 (2016) Review


“You have…a lot of balls.”

Who will save an unconscious Miles from Hammerhead? Goldballs to the rescue! Plus, a secret love revealed!

WRITER: Brian Michael Bendis

ARTIST: Oscar Bazaldua

COLOR ARTISTS: Justin Ponsor with Rain Beredo

LETTERING: VC’s Clayton Cowles

COVER ART: Patrick Brown

X-Men TRADING CARD VARIANT COVER: Jim Lee, Israel Silva & Michael Kelleher

SPECIAL THANKS: Juan Vlasco

TITLE PAGE DESIGN: Idette Winecoor

ASSISTANT EDITOR: Allison Stock

ASSOCIATE EDITOR: Devin Lewis

EDITOR: Nick Lowe

STORY: Ganke and Fabio take a cab to find Miles. Fabio changes into Goldballs and rescues Spider-Man, taking him back to their dorm, where Rio is waiting. Rio takes her son to her hospital, where she patches him up and they have a heart to heart. Miles checks in on Lana and she sees on tv how he avenged her. Black Cat reads Hammerhead the riot act and tells him to take care of the young Spider-Man. Lana tells Fabio she thinks Miles is in love with her and she confesses her love in return. Fabio gets his heart broken. Hammerhead plans something.

THOUGHTS: So, we don’t get the Black Cat cover shown in the back of last issue, but I’m okay with that as Patrick Brown delivers art that is more thematically on point with what has been going on this arc. This is where Miles’ head is at and the cover really stands out, stoking interest in how Spider-Man got his hands bloody. However, I didn’t purchase this one. I started heavily collecting comics in the 90’s and the nostalgia bug bit, so I picked up the Jim Lee X-Men Shadowcat trading card variant. Don’t judge me.

The intro focuses on Fabio, giving us a very mild Rashomon Effect as Hammerhead’s dialogue and posture are slightly different from where we last left Miles. The Spider-Gwen-esque coloring continues from last time as Fabio tries to mentally psych himself up to be a hero. As ridiculous as shouting “Goldballs” over and over is, I like seeing Fabio step up to be the hero. He’s clearly not comfortable with it and doesn’t feel cut out for it, as he told Miles last issue, but still does the right thing to save his friend when it counts. Plus, he’s right-they probably shouldn’t be moving Miles, but I guess a super-hero trying to protect his secret identity can’t really wait around for the paramedics to do it proper.

I was gonna ask if his gold balls were real or permanent, but they seem to “poink” back out of existence as the boys make their getaway back to the dorm. So much for a get rich quick scheme! There’s a two page spread of Fabio just inundating Hammerhead with gold balls that had to be fun for Bazaldua-just draw circles! The coloring really brings them to life with the requisite shine. Ponsor and Beredo make a pretty good team. It can’t have been easy to make the balls gold, shiny, AND reflect the alternating club lights.

I’ve been enjoying how Bendis has been drawing out Rio’s acceptance of Miles’ dual identity. Don’t get me wrong, I loved how readily she accepted it in the Ultimate universe, but Bendis has gone more nuanced here. Her feelings weren’t just resolved in one issue, but have grown and evolved over several, emulating real life. We finally seem to be at a point of acceptance, at least as far as Miles is involved. Jefferson is a whole other story. I liked Miles stepping up for his dad, but Rio has a fair point that it’s a different relationship.

The pep talk was much needed this issue, too. Will it be enough for Miles to put the issue behind him, or will it be the rock he leans on when he needs it most? I appreciated that it was heartfelt, but still humorous, like when Rio says Miles is better than the other Spidey, sure to ire some Spider-Fans, but not better than Thor, to prove that she’s got a legit opinion and not just saying something because she’s his mom. I’m glad Rio is back among the living. She and Jefferson offering support helps distinguish this Spider-Man and give longtime readers something a little fresh as we’re not quite repeating the frail parental figure who’s clueless as to what’s going on.

Poor Fabio plays the hero this issue, but doesn’t get the girl. He totally gets his hopes up thinking Lana is about to sing his praises for taking out Hammerhead when quite the opposite happens. The heartbreak is palpable as he sullenly realizes he can’t compete with Miles. That should ratchet up the tension in their dorm life! My son enjoyed seeing Fabio sporting a Tri-Force shirt from The Legend of Zelda series.

I don’t know what it is about the art on the last page, but Hammerhead’s head seems longer than ever, instead of just flat and wide. I like the noir setting and the red glow from the neon, though. I’d wonder if Bendis was laying the groundwork for the new Sinister Six here, but Hammerhead isn’t on the new roster as far as I know.

This was a solid and entertaining issue. Not much in the action department, but what it lacked in fisticuffs, it made up for in character development. I’m starting to steadily enjoy this volume finally after a rough start initially with all the unanswered questions I had.

MY GRADE: B+

JAVI’S HUH?: Did Rio ACTUALLY clean their dorm room while she waited?

I spotted D-Man reading Howard the Duck in the hospital. Isn’t he dead? Maybe this was just another of Bendis’ cosplayers, except this one wasn’t yelling about the universe ending. 

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(3) Comments

  1. Interpreter

    No. In Bendis' X-Men Benjamin(Morph) was the one who was gay. I don't think Fabio's preferences were mentioned one way or the other.

  2. Shaun

    Miles has suitors coming out the wahzoo now, but I would like to see Lana/Miles hook up more than Miles/Kamala, or Miles/Gwen. Their history goes back to the Ultimate Universe and I'm a big fan of Bombshell. I think Lana's relationship with her Mother will be a good compliment to Miles' struggles with himself and his own relationship with his mother. I also think Miles/Lana would allow Bendis to tighten the focus of the book's supporting cast.

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