Going Nowhere Fast: Reviewing ‘Miles Morales: Spider-Man’ #39
by Scott Redmond
Even a decade into his existence, Miles Morales is a character that Marvel Comics doesn’t seem to know how to use at all and continues to coast off the same story fumes over and over again. While overly fine in concept, Miles Morales’s return to the multiverse and dive into dystopian futures is pretty formulaic.
Sometimes being a fan of a character in any medium can be an overly painful experience. Especially when the powers that be have seemingly captured that character in a never-ending loop of the same types of stories or the same story elements for all of eternity. Being a Miles Morales fan is painful.
Miles Morales: Spider-Man is a series that is fine, albeit often aggressively mediocre, but more often than not tiring because the same types of story beats are being repeated over and over. It’s not just here though. Miles is a character perpetually trapped to play out stories that are about the Multiverse, Uncle Aaron, or somehow being updated copies of stories Peter Parker has already had. Both series currently bearing Miles’s name are about wild alternate realities that somehow tie back to Uncle Aaron and Miles’s place in them.
There are so few characters of mixed race/biracial out there, and Miles is a huge character with huge potential, and it’s being squandered for the same tired beats. Sometimes, like in a certain Thor-like issue of another series, it goes from being squandered to being offensive.
There isn’t anything offensive in what Saladin Ahmed is presenting here. It’s fine, the characters and overall direction are fine, but it just feels overly cookie cutter and predictable. It’s hitting every dystopian alternate reality trope out there and it’s only two issues into this event. Not boding well for the handful more issues that are coming for this story (that actually overall has taken up around a year of issues). Some action goes down, some answers are given, and come connections are made as the inevitable reveal that isn’t surprising is dropped as a supposed to be a surprising cliffhanger.
There is less hands-on-deck artistically in this issue as Alberto Foche takes over the pencils fully and David Curiel jumps on board color-wise. Overall, it’s pretty solid as there are tons of close-ups and room for more emotional/facial work in this one as well as some cool altered designs for some characters including Miles clones. There is less of seeing the future version of Brooklyn because most of the issue time is spent in rather bland rooms/sewers or normal-looking neighborhoods that are just broken and run down a bit. And much of that is sort of faded out in the background. It’s very much a character focus issue visually.
There is still some stuff going on where Shift is either shrunken down to look like a copy of Miles in some spots or looks exactly like Miles but just chunkier. Now, this could just be him using his shifting powers to blend in better within this world. But it is a sudden unexplained sort of change in depiction.
Curiel provides a lot of good color work where there are pops and flashes of bright colors, especially around the superhero sort of things, while maintaining a sort of more realistic color palette for the normal characters or aspects. Mostly its cooler tones with some harsher ones for the more dire moments of the book. Without the more futuristic or dystopian elements really on display for most of the issue the colors are more in a sort of normal range one could say.
Cory Petit is still on board bringing the lettering to life, doing a great job as usual. Plenty of work to be had with a ton of dialogue and exposition here to fill in gaps, and he hits all the right notes to bring the emotion and personality to bear in each bit of words. Volume and tone are clear with the changes to the fonts, and it flows around the pages smoothly.
Since Marvel right now is such a fan of doing What If…? stories for Miles I have one for them: What if we got some Miles Morales stories that actually let the character grow and advance and be who he should and can be?
Miles Morales: Spider-Man #39 is now available.