A while back as part of a Divided We Fall review I ranted over Miles Morales version of Spider-Man; more or less I called him a black clone of Peter Parker. After hearing a friend state they’ve only heard awesome things about him and that she was enjoying the comic, and my local shop stating they actually gained (and had no one drop) buyers when Miles took over, well I decided to give him more thorough look. Beware of Ultimate Spider-Man spoilers…
I have to admit, its somewhat enjoyable. Miles is a smart kid lucky enough to get pulled into a charter school (or something like it) that is suppose to be really good, but requires a lottery to get in. He has a shady, but albeit loving uncle. A loving dad and mom. Really, I think Bendis does a great job setting up a non-stereotypical family for “Black Spider-Man”, as Black Ness Monster dubbed him in his post about the first issue.
Anyways, Miles’ home life is oddly stable more or less for this era. His parents are together, and he has an uncle his dad hates. An uncle who by chance stole things from Osborn including (by accident) a spider that happens to bite Miles. His uncle Aaron as Black Ness’s review states is kind of his Uncle Ben. A lot of other reviews give that role to Peter Parker himself for his inspiration and the famous quote being fed indirectly to him via Gwen at Peter’s death. Both have some merits, though the Parker angle fits better as his admiration for his uncle kind of slips as issues go on and he finds out exactly what his uncle does. Still, Aaron does give him some good advice and his death is ultimately viewed as being Miles’ fault.
School wise he’s in a boarding school. Lives there with his best friend who knows his secret, and some other random kid who really hasn’t had much to do save make being Black Spider-Man a little more difficult. While I’ve yet to really see it, Miles himself has been described as a brilliant and smart boy. One with an aptitude for science. Generally speaking he does well in school. Personal life on all levels is nicely written.
Same goes for his super hero life. It’s fairly well written. He gets a few different powers. While he lacks web shooters (though issues 1-4 oddly covers him each time as having them), this new Spider-Man comes complete with invisibility and a “venom touch”. Basically it shocks the system and possibly has various levels of strength. So he gets a little boost, though lacks the web shooters until Divided We Fall when Aunt May and Gwen shows up with them gift wrapped. Seriously. He is shown working around of course with a typical “learn the powers’ for a few issues, and learn the hero gig coming across other heroes, recognizable villains, and picking up a couple new ones himself. Nothing amazing, but they’ve been decent reads.
Generally speaking though, I’m still not impressed and stick by what I said originally in my Divided We Fall review. While Bendis has shown to me to be a good writer through the original volume of Ultimate Spider-Man, just about everything here feels like lazy story telling. Yes he has a two parent household, but technically at the start Peter did too (Uncle Ben and Aunt May). While the circumstances are different, both have been guilted over the death of their uncle. Miles’ father is playing a similar role that Aunt May did through much of Parker’s run; that being the family member who verbally looked down on and badmouthed what their kid was doing. Both are really bright students, especially in the science department. Also, while Miles’ opens up sooner, they both have their best friend to confide in and talk to being Spider-Man about (though I doubt Miles will end up dating his best friend… but I could be wrong there).
Get them into costume and its more of the same. So far Miles has more or less the same villains as Parker. Even had the freaking Kangaroo get at him for saying the EXACT SAME joke as Peter did (at least Bendis can make a small bit of fun at himself, I guess). He’s come across some of the same police officers as Parker and, despite that, has still had problems with the police. Fury plays surrogate father for both. Captain America even gives the same pep talk to Miles as he did Peter to later have the same discussion over the boy with Iron Man. The difference in this case is Steve finally decides, mostly to redeem himself to the deceased Parker, to agree and help Parker out. That is if he can while being the President. Nearly the same, though apparently Black Spider-Man needs to be handicapped by a lack of school bullies (unless his adult hall monitor counts), and more so by being granted the two extra powers so things can be even easier for him.
The only somewhat unique aspect has been his Uncle, who in my eyes has acted towards Miles as a mix of Uncle Ben but more so Osborn did towards Peter. Claims of Miles’ powers being due to his actions, and how Miles should help him out because of that.
May as well send Bendis to Hollywood so he can help them in remaking movies from the 80’s. Really, why kill off Parker if you end up more or less just recreating him with new packaging, a few upgrades, and generally the same situations? Was it to make headlines and cash? Or to retire Peter off before ideas for his run started to stagnant and more or less end up repeats? Oh wait, that part seems to have happened anyways with Miles, just that some don’t seem to notice it due either to lack of reading Parker’s run or just being fooled by the new package.