Writer Brian Michael Bendis reminds me of the late, great John Hughes more than any other creative person out there right now. This is because Bendis has an uncanny knack for understanding the teenage thought process. Sure, awkward adolescence is something we all go through, but for most of us, the further we get away from that time in our lives, the less we remember the little details of what it really felt like to be a teenager. By the time most of us are 30, a lot of high school has become a fuzzy memory at best.
But filmmaker John Hughes was one of those people who was able to tap into that specific teenage essence and translate it to film perfectly, such as in movies like The Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. In the realm of comic books, Brian Michael Bendis also has that ability. Such is why he was absolutely perfect to write a comic about a teenage Spider-Man when he started Ultimate Spider-Man back in 2000. As long as he’s alive and willing, Marvel should make sure Bendis is always working on new books centered around a teenage Spidey.
In Spider-Man #1, we are reintroduced to Miles Morales, a.k.a. Spider-Man the Second. Thanks to the events of Secret Wars, he’s the only survivor of the Ultimate Universe, mainly because he was the only character anyone was really invested in from that universe anymore. How exactly his origin story—which was tied into a version of Peter Parker that no longer exists—played out in the new version of the character is a mystery, but it’s one that can be kept on the shelf for another day. Needless to say, Miles is still Spider-Man, although now he co-exists with an older Peter Parker who is also Spider-Man. And it seems that the general public understands that there are two distinct Spideys out there.
By the way, it should be noted that this comic book is simply called Spider-Man. Not Ultimate Spider-Man, or Miles Morales: Spider-Man, or anything else like that. It’s a vote of confidence from Marvel, letting fans know that he is as much a legit Spidey as Peter Parker, which is pretty awesome.
Much like Peter Parker before him, Miles has a very hard time juggling his superhero life with his personal life. After the opening pages, which find Spidey in the middle of a hopeless battle with the demon Blackheart—who, by the way, has just relegated the Avengers to lying unconscious on the ground—we flashback to his real troubles at his Brooklyn high school. It seems Miles nabbed a date with a longtime crush, but had to stand her up because of Spider-Man duties… so she tells him to take a hike.
It’s here we’re introduced once again to Miles’ best friend Ganke, who is one of the few people who is in on Miles’ secret (the other being Miles’ dad). The friendly ribbing between the two best friends is exactly that kind of teenage banter that doesn’t sound forced, or too much like an old guy trying to write teenagers. They sound like real teenagers, which is that John Hughes-esque gift that Bendis has.
Essentially, Miles’ whole life would be a lot better if he weren’t Spider-Man, and that more than anything else is the key to what makes this book so charming. I can live with a jet-setting millionaire Peter Parker as long as I know someone named Spidey is out there and can’t go on a date or keep his grades up because he’s busy saving the world.
As the action ramps up, the issue’s other hero becomes invaluable—that being artist Sara Pichelli. Although Pichelli has done really great work before, notably on comics like the previous version of Miles Morales: Spider-Man, this is some of the loveliest penciling I’ve seen from her. Her renditions of the action sequences are really spectacular. Her depiction of the demon Blackheart—a usually kind of lame Ghost Rider villain—is positively terrifying. It seems Marvel gave creators a little extra lead time in creating these first few issues of the All-New Marvel initiative while Secret Wars was going on, because the extra time has translated into a lot of extra TLC for a lot of these comics. Spider-Man #1 is no exception.
The combo of Brian Michael Bendis and Sara Pichelli continues to make this version of Spider-Man a joy to read, and hopefully this creative team will stay together at least as long as Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley did with the original Ultimate Spider-Man (which was over a hundred issues). This first issue did just about everything right, and as long as Marvel keeps this creative team together, it’s safe to say that the Miles Morales version of Spider-Man is in good hands and has a long, bright future in the mainstream Marvel universe.
RATING: 4.5 OUT OF 5 BURRITOS
IMAGES: Marvel Comics