Spider-Man #19 (2016) Review


“YOU’RE Spider-Man because HE was Spider-Man FIRST. What if he never was and you got bit by the crazy spider…what would you have become then?”

It’s the heart to heart issue as Miles and Ganke and Rio and Jefferson finally sit down and try to talk things out. Will Miles continue as Spider-Man? Will Rio forgive Jefferson for his lies?

WRITER: Brian Michael Bendis

ARTIST: Oscar Bazaldua

COLOR ARTIST: Jason Keith

LETTERING: VC’s Cory Petit

COVER ART: Patrick Brown

SPECIAL THANKS: Juan Vlasco

TITLE PAGE DESIGN: Idette Winecoor

MARVEL VS. CAPCOM VARIANT: Reilly Brown & Marte Gracia

ASSISTANT EDITOR: Allison Stock

ASSOCIATE EDITOR: Devin Lewis

EDITOR: Nick Lowe

STORY: Ganke has a dream where he’s a hero, texts with Danika, then goes to sleep, only to wake up again to  find Fabio somewhat distraught. Ganke falls back asleep when Fabio says he is fine. In the morning, Miles and Ganke wake up and find a good-bye note from Fabio, who has moved out. Miles and Ganke then spend time catching up, with Ganke telling Miles that maybe he shouldn’t be Spidey anymore. Rio and Jefferson meet to talk out their differences, but Rio runs off, crying. Hammerhead meets with Ceres, who gives him…something to combat Spider-Man. Lying in bed, Miles notices he has gotten quite a few texts from Lana.

THOUGHTS: The cover recalls more the events of last issue than anything that happens this time out, though Bendis does start this issue off towards the end of the last installment. It serves as a reminder of just how badly Miles got injured last time and I think it’s one of the better covers Brown has provided for this series. It feels like Miles is barely holding on to his web-line as he makes his way.

About that opening, I’d criticize Ganke for his choice of super-hero name, The Avenging Avenger, but I should probably cut him some slack as it’s just a dream. Did anyone else think of The Greatest American Hero? I heard the theme song in my head as Ganke flew around. The chest emblem on his uniform looked like the weird, bent legs of a stick figure to me, more than a stylized “A” or double “A”. His outfit, actually, the whole sequence, is cheesy for cheesiness sake, working through some tropes as fast as it can. Speaking of cheese, I think “gorgonzola” as a catch phrase qualifies, serving as a perfect bridge to show us what was going on in Ganke’s head as Rio and Miles literally and figuratively patched things up from last issue.

I really liked seeing Ganke text back and forth with Danika. It brought a level of sweetness to the story and Bazaldua easily conveys how happy Ganke is with this new relationship. I only hope this is real for the both of them and not some way for Danika to get closer to a Spider-Man. Bad enough Fabio is hurt that Lana has a crush on Miles, but for Ganke to lose a girl to Spidey would be too much strain on Miles’ friendships.

I also liked the acknowledgement that things have been really crazy for the cast, without much of a chance to let things just be. It was a good reminder that there was a time they used to have fun, go to the movies, play video games, etc. This issue served very much as a breather from Civil Wars, missing dads, rage issues, and inter-dimensional relationships. I think I had forgotten how much I liked Miles and Ganke’s friendship. They’ve been kept apart a lot this volume, be it through Ganke’s actions or the aforementioned craziness. It was great seeing them just talk, in scenes I’m sure the chatty Bendis enjoyed writing.

In a wise effort to break up the rekindled bromance scene, Bendis provides a quick interlude to check in on Rio and Jefferson. Just like Miles and Rio, she and her husband have needed some time to mend things between them, adding a layer of realism to their relationship. This wouldn’t be a Spider-Man comic without some soap opera style drama, with Jefferson apologizing and pleading for Rio to come home and Rio running off yet again. A mysterious silhouette appears behind the now solitary Jefferson, but any sense of mystery and suspense is undercut by the bowler hat the figure is wearing. Add to that dialogue where the person identifies themselves as an ex-agent and seems to know Jefferson, it’s not much of  a stretch to imagine it’s Dum-Dum Dugan. Why the secretive route? That isn’t exactly a hat that blends in with the modern day. It’s really more a marker than anything else, so is he that bad a spy or is Bendis just trying to create a false sense of mystery?

Getting back to the boys, Bendis is laying some ground work for future stories and tie ins if you’ve been paying attention to interviews regarding Generations and Spider-Men II. Do you suppose with all this identity talk that he’s out to establish a new hero identity for Miles? In a current market place with chrome/variant/lenticular covers, could Marvel be bringing back another 90’s trope and rebrand some heroes’ titles? We’re already getting that in a sense with Legacy, but could we see something along the lines of Thunderstrike and War Machine? We already have Iron Heart, but she’s headlining a title named Iron Man. Could we get another retitling in a few month’s time of characters who’re sharing similar identities?

What identity would Miles assume in such a scenario? I know I’m not alone in thinking there are too many Spider-People running around. Thankfully, that number has been reduced by one with Miguel O’Hara returning to the year 2100. What moniker would Miles take, though? The Crawler? How do you pick an identity that isn’t related to what you do? That’s pretty much been the standard for the last 75 years.

Ganke brings up that maybe Miles isn’t a part of a legacy, but is more comparable to a cover band. It’s an interesting analogy, one that I’m not sure holds up given continuity as it exists at this moment in time. With Spider-Men II #3 having just been released this week as I write this, I’m not sure where we stand on any possible revelations as to who remembers what from back when. If Miles does retain all his memories, then he is a legacy character, carrying on for Ultimate Peter Parker. If Ganke doesn’t remember their time in the 1610, that adds weight to his view of being a cover band. It’s still a bit of mess to me, one that has hampered my fully enjoying this title like I used to. I really hope that once Generations and Spider-Men II are behind us everything gets cleared up definitively. Personally, I’d throw Miles in the legacy camp, but it’s more and more muddied as he fights Peter’s rogue’s gallery and not his own, which then feeds in to the whole Miles needs his own identity thing. It’s a vicious circle the more I think about it.

Action was not Spidey’s reward this issue. Instead, a chance to talk now that the action is over was and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The characters needed a chance to regroup for a moment. If you’re looking for wall to wall web-slinging, this issue isn’t for you, but if you want to see people interact, Bendis has you covered. Bazaldua continues to be a worthy successor to Pichelli, but still retains his own look. I appreciated the questions Ganke raised, now we’ll just have to see how Bendis answers them.

MY GRADE: B+

JAVI’S HUH?: What’s in the boooooooox?!?! Oh, and who’s Ceres?

 

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