Review: Adventures In Babysitting…And Alligators In ‘Miles Morales: Spider-Man #16’

by James Ferguson

Miles gives his parents a break and watches his new baby sister Billie while they go out. What starts as a normal stroll through the park takes a turn when Miles needs to suit up to save someone trapped in the sewer…and fight an alligator in the process. Baby Billie is about to go on her first adventure.

Miles Morales: Spider-Man has dealt with some crazy ups and downs in the life of this young super hero so it’s refreshing to take a moment to catch your breath. That’s exactly what this chapter delivers. It’s light and fun and sure to put a smile on your face. Yes, I realize I’m saying that about a story involving a teenager fighting an alligator in the sewers of Brooklyn with an infant strapped to his chest with webbing. I swear it’s an absolute crowd-pleaser.
Artist Cory Smith accentuates certain aspects of the story to help with this overall tone. This comes from Miles’ expressions shown through his mask to the ridiculous appearance of the “urban pioneer” who gets stuck in the sewer. The alligator is a real standout. You’ve heard stories of people flushing baby alligators down the sewers, right? Well, this one grew up down there and it’s massive. It makes Miles look minuscule next to it.

Smith immediately adjusts the tone to meet the needs of the action scene with Miles leaping through the air, shooting web fluid every which way. I love how the webbing has a blur to it, like it’s moving so quickly we can’t really focus on it with the human eye. Victor Olazaba’s inks are clean and crisp, highlighting Smith’s detail work.
As a reminder, Miles is doing all this with a baby webbed to his chest. Billie occasionally pipes in with a goo here or a laugh there. Letterer Cory Petit keeps these interactions brief, with the exception of her cries which stretch out across the panel. That’s exactly how real infants act so that’s spot on.

Miles’ adventures in babysitting are just half of this issue. The other half focuses on his uncle Aaron meeting Ultimatum, the big bad that’s been pulling strings in town for a bit. The entire mood of the comic changes when we head into this section. Colorist David Curiel replaces the bright shades of the day with darker, more ominous colors of the night. It immediately puts you on edge as you see this clandestine meeting play out.
Where writer Saladin Ahmed used a fair amount of humor in the first half of Miles Morales: Spider-Man #16, the latter half is all business. He shows some nice range here that amplifies every aspect of the story and proves you can have your cake and eat it too. Ahmed is playing with some pretty big ideas with Ultimatum and I’m eager to see how they’re going to pan out. We’re talking potentially big event level stuff so I have to wonder if it would be contained in the pages of this comic alone.

I’m continually impressed by how much Ahmed is able to fit into every issue of Miles Morales: Spider-Man. This chapter in particular feels like two in one since we have the story with Miles and Billie and then the separate one with Prowler and Ultimatum. We’re way past the groundwork stage as huge, sprawling cities of story are being built and it’s a wonder to take in.
Miles Morales: Spider-Man #16 from Marvel Comics is currently available at your local comic shop and digitally through ComiXology and Amazon Kindle.

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