By Brian Michael Bendis, Sara Pichelli and Justin Ponsor
One of the biggest questions facing the Spider-Man sphere in recent months has been who the Miles Morales of the main Marvel Universe reality is. Sure, we know our Miles was pulled over from another Earth, but that means there’s a spot open for one more. And whilst that isn’t the main focus of the first issue, it looks very much set to be the focus of things to come, with a final page cliffhanger teasing what lies in store for both the Miles that we already know and Peter.
Brian Michael Bendis has experience writing both Miles and Peter and it shows as he’s able to get their characters spot on. Both are full of energy and life and are well-developed here. We get to spend equal time with both of them as we might expect in a Spider-Men sequel. It was interesting to see that rather than give both characters equal time in and out of costume, Bendis opted for a different approach and kept Peter largely in his superhero get-up whilst Miles was largely a civilian. The dynamic created between the two when they do get the chance to interact is very promising, and it feels like a fun, buddy cop movie; only instead of the cops, you have two Spider-Men. While the thrill of seeing these two characters together on the same page is not quite as fresh as it was the first time around in the first Spider-Men, Spider-Men II does a good, if not flawless, job at pulling readers in thanks to its friendly and accessible start. This should appeal to fans of both characters as well as those who haven’t read a Miles book before and are looking to see what his character can do.
Having Sara Pichelli back on board a Spider-Man book is amazing and her art is simply fantastic. The change between action-packed scenes with Peter like the dramatic Mission Impossible-esque opener and the high school stuff that focuses on Miles doesn’t feel too jarring as it flows seamlessly together. Justin Ponsor’s colors help capture the landscape and characters in fantastic depth. Ponsor reliably helps flesh out the book and give it a dynamic feel that it needs. It feels right at home in Spider-Man’s corner of the Marvel Universe in terms of style, but at the same time is distinctive and stands out as a visual treat.
There are a few problems that hold this book back however. Peter’s disapproval of Miles as Spider-Man is something that seems too forced to be believable; after all, it may have been acceptable when Miles was just starting out, but it never quite feels as needed as it should have done. The fact that this seems to be a Miles-centric story rather than a Peter-one helps in a way though and it’ll be fun to see how these characters do develop, but this flaw added some unnecessary complications that could have been done without. We could have done with a larger focus on the other Miles Morales as well rather than just a tease, because at the moment this issue just feels like a prequel. We may have been better off being thrown right into the action, especially as the question was asked already in a previous series. Things should have just been picked up from there.
Spider-Men II #1 may not be perfect, but it does have enough to keep fans happy. The potential of exploring who Miles Morales is on this Earth will keep them coming back for more, and as always, the artwork from Sara Pichelli and Justin Ponsor is stellar. Hopefully it won’t be long before the series finds its feet and gains some much-needed depth.