Finally, the Miles Morales ongoing series is upon us! While I am really enjoying The Amazing Spider-Man, and all his international adventures, a part of me was yearning to see Miles Morales find his place in the mainstream universe of Marvel Comics. And my, have we seen Miles Morales all grown up these past few months! He’s still a panicky teenager but Brian Michael Bendis is writing him to be more serious about his vocation as a hero, and more mature about the other aspects of his life. Even the artist Sara Pichelli, who I believe should be drawing Spider-Man until the end of time as we know it, has been visualizing Miles to be a bigger, more commanding person, and it’s clear in her pencil-work. This is a grown up Miles we are dealing with folks, and he is here to stay. Ganke is still in the picture, so the label of grownup comes with a disclaimer. But as goofy a best friend Ganke tries to be, he is still the guiding force and moral compass that keeps Miles in check, and on path toward superhero success. They might actually be the modern day dynamic duo. Something inside me tells me, though, that eventually Ganke will be turning into a villain. Poor Miles…
What I appreciate from this new volume of Spider-Man is how Brian Michael Bendis does not go back to Miles Morales as a young, up-and-coming superhero that has to learn the ropes and start from scratch. Bendis doesn’t place any kiddie gloves on our hero’s hands. The first two issues of Spider-Man highlight Spider-Man saving the Avengers and doing something that they could not do as a team. He beat Blackheart, and he defeated the demon in very impressive fashion. Miles Morales is not to be underestimated. The first two issues were a statement. Miles Morales is as A-List as you can get. He may not be the original Spider-Man, but he is a REAL Spider-Man. Even Peter Parker acknowledges this fact. And while Peter may be a bit overprotective of the kid, he knows that Miles has the potential to be even greater than he is. And in issue 2, Peter even admits that Miles’ costume is cooler than his own. This is one subtle, but clear way of pointing to Miles’ potential. As a reader, I was freaking out along with Morales when he was panicking over the fact that he combated and even touched a demon. But at the same time I was so proud of him that he got the respect of Peter Parker and the Avengers. After defeating Blackheart, the New York Police were about to arrest the new Spider-Man. It was Captain America himself who defended Spider-Man, ordered the police to put down their weapons, and said that he is a true hero.
One direction I favor in this Spider-Man series is Miles’ refusal to be known as simply the black Spider-Man. And he makes a good point. In essence, why does it really matter that the new Spider-Man is a half-Hispanic black American? The point Miles is trying to make is that he wants to prove himself as a superhero, based on what he accomplishes and not on what his background is, whether it be race or color. Marvel has been changing things up a lot lately. Captain America is a black man. Thor is a lady. These are all great ways of stirring up some noise, making books more accessible to a wider audience, and generally being more open to the modern times. But at the end of the day, a hero should be judged by his accomplishments and not just what he represents. Race and color are good starting points for a hero to make a name for himself, and it is still a milestone having somebody so different (yet so very similar) from Peter Parker take on the mask, but ultimately readers are more discerning and demand more from the storytelling. And Bendis is very much aware of this.
Issue 2 came out this week, but be sure to catch issue 3 next month, when Miles Morales meets the new Ms. Marvel. For sure, they’ll be talking about color, race, and what it means to be a superhero who is not of the typical mold. I’m pretty sure Ms. Marvel is going to teach Miles Morales how to embrace his color, and use it to become a symbol of hope for those who still suffer because of their race. Issue 3 also promises to explore the relationship between Miles and his tough-looking grandmother, who is determined to straighten him out and fix his dipping grades. Miles is in for one heck of a whirlwind these coming issues, so don’t forget to follow this title every month!
(When he’s not out on the streets saving the world from made-up villains, Marco Manalac is usually surfing the internet. Follow him on Twitter @marcomanalac. Email him at email@example.com)