You know, I generally tend to avoid modern Marvel comics starring Peter Parker. In the seven years I have been reviewing for the Crawlspace, the only Parker assignments I have taken were The Clone Conspiracy and the two Spider-Men series. And yet, even when I take a Peter Parker comic, I somehow manage to avoid Peter Parker showing up. I sure hope you like Wilson Fisk, because neither Peter Parker or Miles Morales appear in this issue.
SPIDER-MEN 2 #3: Unlikely Friends
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Sara Pichelli
Colorist: Justin Ponsor
Letterer: Cory Petit
Inker: Elisabetta D’Amico
C.Artists: Sara Pichelli & Morry Hollowell
Editors: Nick Lowe & Kathleen Wisneski
Editor-In-Chief: Axel Alonso
Miles I Am Forever In Your Debt: Our story begins several years ago, when Wilson Fisk was sent to Ryker’s penitentiary. He is sent to solitary when he bites a rival’s nose off, but when he gets out he gets to meet his cellmate: Miles Morales. Fisk reveals he was sent there by their boss, Don Rigoletto, to look after Miles and get him out after he took the fall for Rigoletto’s cousin. Morales warns Fisk that most of the prison is out to get him after the nose incident, but Fisk seems unworried. One day, Fisk is jumped in the shower by a prisoner on MGH (Mutant Growth Hormone) but Miles saves his life, gaining his facial scars in the process.
Several years later, Miles Morales is on a date with a girl named Barbara. The date seems to be going poorly, but Fisk arrives and tells Barbara the story of how Miles saved his life and then convinced him to open a restaurant; the same restaurant they are in now. Barbara is intrigued by the friendship between the two, until Miles changes the topic to travel. A few months later, Miles is looking to get out of the crime life and travel with Barbara. Fisk helps Miles kill Don Rigoletto and then tells Miles he is free to travel the world. Miles tells Fisk that is impossible with his criminal record, but Fisk offers to make any record of Miles disappear for good.
I Would Pay To Know You Lived Happily Ever After: In classic Bendis fashion, this series slams to a stand-still to deliver one helluva chatty issue; slams might be a little harsh considering this series has been moving at a crawl. A fifth of this series has now been dedicated to giving the Marvel Prime Miles Morales a backstory… one that does not even come close to connecting the dots needed for the series’ present. And that is irritating as hell. And the worst part about this whole thing? It is a good issue. This is a Wilson Fisk story, a character that Bendis tends to have a good handle on. This issue delivers one of the most unlikely bromances in the MU, but by the issue’s end I was on board with the Miles Morales/Wilson Fisk relationship. The banter between the two is really strong and the way they refer to each other without the other present is frankly adorable. Which feels really weird to say, because this comic is violent as hell. Fisk devours a guy’s nose in the opening pages and there is a bloodbath in the showers later on. Bendis knows how to write crime stories and excels at developing relationships between characters. He also adds a new dimension to younger Miles’ relationship with Barbara by giving the same relationship to older Miles. Considering the scenes between heroic Miles and Barbara have been some of the highlights so far, I am curious to see where this new layer takes us. Bendis also works at bridging the gap between Marvel Comics and Marvel Television, by making Fisk’s boss one of the crime lords from the first season of Daredevil.
The artistic side of things is particularly weak this time around. I think a lot of this stems from Elisabetta D’Amico’s inks over Sara Pichelli’s pencils. Pichelli’s figures lack their usual presence on the page, which is a shame because Pichelli seems to be putting more effort into designing one off characters in the background than she does the titular Spider-Men. The main antagonist in the prison, a guy named Little Hands, feels like Pichelli designed someone off of Jared Leto’s Joker. And true to his name, his hands are minute especially when contrasted against Fisk’s. But her facial features lack dimension, another fault to be found with the inker. Seeing Fisk’s sinister grin as someone’s blood drips from his mouth is great. Unfortunately, his hair in the next scene looks like a child doodled over top of the panel. The best scene in the entire issue is the fight in the shower. Steam from the showers fill the room, just before darkness falls. The light reflects off the steam, pouring in through a door where a figure obscures it. There is an odd fixation on eyes during the fight, as Fisk’s eyes are devoid of color until Miles saves his life. At the same time, Little Hand’s eyes are concealed until he reveals he has taken MGH to help beat Fisk, and then we see the unnatural sheen in them. The use of light and shadow is key: the shadows hide the weak inking and the light adds that unique Ponsor signature of vibrant color as the two men proceed to beat the stuffing out of each other.
Pichelli should also be commended for her use of variety when it comes to paneling. Most of this comic is conversational, but she switches between vertical and horizontal panels of all different sizes to keep things fresh. Justin Ponsor is still an excellent partner in crime for Pichelli and he sets the tone of the prison instantly with a heavy downfall devoid of most colors. These two really convey the glee Miles and Fisk have when it comes to violence; despite Bendis’ script telling us that Miles hates this life. My final complaint is that the older Miles does not seem to have much in common with the main Miles; their skin color does not even match up properly.
Verdict: This is a very unnecessary issue, but it does play to Bendis’ strength as a writer. And while Pichelli and Ponsor still manage to rise to the occasion for a couple key scenes, the art is brought down hard by some poor inking. If you want an issue of an unlikely but infectious bromance, this is the comic for you. If you are already as disappointed with Spider-Men 2 as I am, this comic will not help that. I will admit that Bendis took me completely off guard with Miles Morales being Wilson Fisk’s original partner in crime. I do not think that justifies the build up but I was not expecting to be surprised, so kudos Bendis. Here is hoping the back half picks things up, and does so fast.
- Infectious bromance
- Shower fight
- Miles’ identity
- Figures look off
- Really unnecessary
- Miles’ identity