2018 will likely go down as a massive year for Marvel in terms of completely reinventing popular characters for a new era, and writing them better than perhaps ever before. Donny Cates has done this with Venom, as has Al Ewing with The Immortal Hulk. With this week's debut of Miles Morales: Spider-Man #1, it's time to add Saladin Ahmed and his web-slinging hero to that list.
Miles Morales Spider-Man #1 picks up with Miles already serving as the titular hero while also attending high school at Brooklyn Visions, and that's really all you need to know. Nothing about this setup is inherently new or inventive, but it's the way in which Miles' story is told that makes this book such a fantastic read.
Unlike some iterations of this character (and many other teenage heroes) in the past, this take on Miles feels so incredibly genuine. Ahmed does a wonderful job of getting into the mind of the high school student and making them sound and feel authentic. There aren't times in this book where Miles and his friends have a conversation and you think to yourself, "Wait, would a kid really say that?" Instead, Miles thinks, acts, and talks much like a real teenager in 2018 would, though he has a lot more problems to deal with. It's those problems, and the inner struggle that comes with them, that truly makes this new Miles Morales series a pinnacle in Spider-Man storytelling.
Anyone who knows me knows that I've long held Spider-Man 2 as the best superhero movie of all time -- though Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is seriously giving it a run for its money. One of the main reasons I've always put Spider-Man 2 above all the other comic-inspired movies out there is that it truly epitomizes what it means to live the life of a superhero. In the movie, Peter tries to live up to the whole "great power, great responsibility" speech, which means sacrificing his real, love, and social lives. The guy is constantly stuck between his two worlds, running on fumes trying to be the hero he's been chosen to be, while also trying to hold on to some semblance of what he actually wants. It's this sacrifice, and the conscious choice to abandon his life for the sake of his city, that makes Peter's story in this movie so great, and it's that same struggle that defines Miles in this new series.
Unlike Peter in Spider-Man 2, Miles is very much still a kid. He has the added difficulty of becoming Spider-Man while still trying to figure out his own world. Most things in the life of a high school student are a revolving door, and Miles is stuck in that door while also trying to fight his way through a journey has a hero. Strangely, it's a very difficult balance that few comics get right, but this one nails it.
This debut issue is a joy to read on its own, but the setup of what's to come takes it to a completely different level. At the end of the book, we see Miles join forces with Rhino, a longtime Spider-Man villain, which might be the smartest choice the series could have made. Most of Spider-Man's rogues are all dangerous, but they also have enough heart and humor to them that makes you enjoy reading them. Characters like Rhino often act more like rivals to Spidey than actual villains. This team-up really drives that idea home, and reminds you that these characters can put things aside to achieve a greater good, much like Miles does with his everyday life.
The ending also draws another massive comparison to Spider-Man 2 in the way it sets up the villain going forward, using an intimate connection with Miles against him, which will likely force him into making even more difficult decisions than he already is. I'm not going to say too much else about it as to not spoil it for anyone, but it genuinely works for me, and I think it lays the groundwork for a wildly emotional arc in the future.
One more thing? The lettering in this book is otherworldly. Everyone involved in the creative team is great, from Ahmed to Javier Garron and David Curiel. But VC's Cory Petit is an absolute standout here, especially when it comes to Miles' inner monologue. The comic sets up the monologue as an ongoing journal that Miles has to write for school, not just the thoughts whipping through his head at all times, so the handwritten style of his personal boxes really feels like something special.
We can't sing the praises of this book enough. Miles Morales and Saladin Ahmed are a match made in heaven, and their debut issue is enough to hook both longtime fans of Spider-Man and new readers alike. The title may not have a big, attention-grabbing descriptor attached to the front like other Spider-Man comics have in the past, but that's OK, because words like "amazing" and "spectacular" wouldn't really do it justice.
Published by Marvel Comics
On December 12, 2018
Written by Saladin Ahmed
Art by Javier Garron
Colors by David Curiel0comments
Letters by VC's Cory Petit
Cover by Brian Steelfreeze