Caught Up In A Gang War In Miles Morales: Spider-Man #5

by James Ferguson

Things have been going pretty well for Miles Morales lately. He took down a crime ring that was kidnapping kids and forcing them to work as hired goons, narrowly escaped Vice Principal Dutcher, and is sort of, maybe, possibly officially dating Barbara. Now would be an inopportune time to get in the middle of a gang war.

I absolutely love how Miles’ powers are not a complete carbon copy of Peter Parker’s. Yes, he can do whatever a spider can, but he can also get in close by turning invisible and then hitting his enemies with a venom strike. This is shown gorgeously from colorist David Curiel, as Miles fades to the background just enough to sneak behind enemy lines before getting the drop on the bangers. He’s translucent in this setting.

This contrasts well with the normal look of his costume which really pops on the page. It’s black and red, but is still shiny. It adds to the overall upbeat vibe of the book. Writer Saladin Ahmed also brings up elements that are fitting for a kid of Miles’ age. Instead of beating up a goon for information, he just takes the guy’s phone and looks through the GPS. Peter Parker isn’t going to do that.

Artist Javier Garron has an incredible eye for art direction, delivering some impressive action sequences. We often get shots showing off Miles’ amazing agility and speed, leaping across the page to knock out the bad guys. He webs up some of the goons in some fun ways too, adding a pinch of humor to the fight.

The one element that continues to fill me with joy in Miles Morales: Spider-Man is the character’s relationship with his family. Because his parents know about his adventures as Spider-Man, it casts everything in an entirely new light. When Miles’ dad gets a call from the Vice Principal saying he skipped school, he gives him the benefit of the doubt and understands that so long as he’s getting his school work done, the heroics are ok. Of course, Miles has to lie a little because he really was skipping school as we saw in the last issue. This is a small scene, but is such a powerful moment between the two of them.

Miles Morales: Spider-Man #5 introduces a high school villain in the form of Sean. He’s like a modern day version of every bully from an ’80s movie. I hated this character from the moment he’s introduced. Even Ganke, Miles’ best friend, hates him, as shown by letterer Cory Petit with a word balloons dripping with icicles. Everything about Sean’s design screams arrogance and disdain. Within moments he puts down everyone around and even though he didn’t do much else, I really want to see him get his comeuppance.

Miles Morales: Spider-Man fires on all cylinders, with a great balance between the title character’s life in and out of costume. I am just as interested in Miles’ heroic escapades as I am in his trials and tribulations of high school. Despite all these troubles, Miles faces the world with an admirable upbeat attitude. It’s a great dynamic and brings a new and needed voice to the medium.

Miles Morales: Spider-Man #5 from Marvel Comics is currently available at your local comic shop and digitally through ComiXology and Amazon Kindle.

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