Multiverse Of Midness: Reviewing ‘What If…Miles Morales’ TPB

by Scott Redmond


‘What If…Miles Morales’ was a concept that maybe seemed cooler on paper but in execution, it has played right into the boring rut that Miles Morales has been trapped in for years. It showcases how the character’s connection to the multiverse is far more harmful than beneficial to the character, at least within the realm of comic books.


There is one thing that can be said for certain about a lot of the books that carry the What If? title or logo upon them: they give you exactly what they advertise. Sometimes that means you get that plus more, depth and complexity, and other times you’re just getting what the title promised and little more.

What If…Miles Morales asks the question that scours the multiverse and finds versions of Miles that became Captain America, Wolverine, Hulk, and Thor respectively. In most cases what you get is just Miles cosplaying as that character and his supporting cast placed into new roles around him, others go a little deeper than that, and in one case it goes in a very offensive never should have been published route.

Miles Morales has been a lot of things in the just over a decade the character has existed. Starting off as the new Spider-Man within Marvel’s Ultimate Universe when that Peter Parker died, he rose to prominence and got shunted to the main 616 Universe following the conclusion of the Multiversal epic 2015 event series Secret Wars. Since then, he has been an Avenger, a Champion, traveled and saved the Multiverse multiple times, had a number of solo series, been a fixture of numerous event storylines, and even had a big screen movie and a PlayStation game dedicated to him.

Unfortunately, despite all that the character has been sort of stuck in a rut filled with repeating events. From repeated storylines centered around Uncle Aaron/Prowler being up to shifty things or dealing with his death, moments where he’s just getting slightly altered versions of storylines that Peter Parker already had in the past, and the worst of all the fact that because of a few comic stories and that popular movie he is seemingly anchored to the Multiverse as a concept.

What If…Miles Morales fits right into that mold for better or for worse.

Within the Captain America issue, it is clear that Cody Ziglar knows and loves this character and has a lot to bring to the table, which made him the right pick for the upcoming relaunch of Miles’ main solo series. Alternate reality stories can sometimes be thin as paper when it comes to building an interesting world (because they are often dedicated to one element & have to wrap thing sup fast), but other times, like in this case, the changes are small but also big enough that even with such a tight focus we get a world that feels deep and lived in. Small things like Tiana Toomes/Starling as the Falcon in this world and Sam Wilson as the Nick Fury stand-in are great little changes, as is Tombstone as Grey Skull and even the use of Uncle Aaron works.

Adding weight and depth is how well Paco Medina is able to capture all the emotional weight on the character’s faces and through their body language. Alongside the smooth nature of the action moments, it all feels very real and again lends itself to that lived-in feeling. This is a fleshed-out world, and we can see it on the pages. Medina is joined by Walden Wong, Victor Olazaba, and Sean Parsons as the inkers on this issue, and while there are three of them their work is pretty seamless as there is nothing that I noticed that gives away that there was more than one person handling that aspect.

Chris Sotomayor’s colors shift perfectly from the darker heavier ones to the popping lighter ones or even the few moments where an old-timey sepia-like filter covers the flashbacks. Things are bright but not too overly bright, keeping it somewhat grounded but centered in the colorful aspects that come with superheroes.

The Miles Wolverine story is exactly a Wolverine story with Logan and his supporting cast/villains mostly cut out and Miles and his supporting cast inserted into their now open spots. John Ridley offers a little something at the start that is different and touches on the type of stories he usually writes, touching on topical things, before it slides into the Wolverine stuff that we know. At times though, there are moments where it all feels far too Logan and not Miles enough, even when we can see a bit of Miles coming through the moments. Uncle Aaron as Sabretooth and Ganke somehow being the Professor X of this world both felt almost like gratuitous moments of sliding Miles’ related characters in just because one could rather than it really fitting.

Farid Karami and Sotomayor do a really great job at bringing this alternate universe to life and really bringing that Wolverine sort of energy to the book. All the action is slick and cuts to the core, and the paneling choices are top-notch as they make the action move even better. With the colors that peak mix of colorful but also heavier and dark/shadowed is reached pretty easily. Watching elements, we know get remixed as Wolverine slices and dices through things is a great visual no matter how one feels about the overall idea this issue presents.

Miles becoming the Hulk at least takes a somewhat interesting route with how it frames the whole issue. Mental health and how various heroes/characters deal with it has become more and more common within a number of comic series these days. So, Anthony Piper choosing to frame this story as Miles having a therapy session with Doc Sampson (detailing origins through flashback) first allows for there to be more to the story than origins but also provides a good way to handle the Hulk very differently than Bruce Banner’s version.

Uncle Aaron’s role through this entire series though is tiring and again goes back to that aforementioned repeated rut that Miles & company occupy these days.

Edgar Salazar and Sotomayor do a good job here art-wise, bringing all these moments to great life. Some pages are a little average overall, with nothing off-putting or special about them, but there are quite a few that are very striking. Such as the one where Miles pops up in bed with glowing green eyes that is powerful and very much of an iconic variety. Sotomayor does a great job at blending together the darker shadowy tones and the brighter colors into a great color marriage.

Miles as Thor is just outright offensive and an insult not only to the character but to members of the Black, Latinx, and Afro-Latinx communities at large. Everything from the words in the books to tons of the visuals are just pure stereotypes almost minstrel show-level stuff. Asgard is “the hood” and there are shoes hanging from powerlines for absolutely no reason other than “isn’t that what you see in black neighborhoods” sort of stuff. The usual Asgardian speech patterns are mixed in with the most over-the-top “this is what black people sound like” dialogue that I have ever witnessed.

Go read the single issue review if you want to know more about how truly terrible this issue was.

In wrapping it all up (aka bringing all the Miles & Aaron variants together in a massive fight) Ziglar does a fine job with what he has to work with here, but even his usually stellar writing can’t really polish this into something worth revisiting or remembering down the line. Ziglar has such a good voice and skill, that we see on display right now in Spider-Punk, that it feels like a waste to have him on a circular gimmick book like this.

Media, Wong, and Sotomayor give us a book that is great to look at and the action scenes, as well as the emotional moments, do work well. There is good energy and flow to the scenes, with the colors being bright and smooth just like usual superhero stories with enough shadows and darkness to add the right weight to things.

People underestimate lettering far too much and don’t give letterers the credit they are due, and Cory Petit is one that is killing it with all the work he does month after month and in this miniseries. All of the dialogue is not only easy to follow as it flows around the page in the best reading order but there are also elements that add realism such as smaller fonts for lower tones and bigger fonts for louder tones which is always helpful. All of the SFX not only match aspects of the variety of art but have fun energy of their own as they fit into the action in big noticeable ways.

Most of the creators involved were clearly putting their best into this, but the overall concept that they were given just is inherently boring and clearly a pure gimmick sort of situation. Handing some of these writers & artists a Miles book that is without the multiverse and a gimmick was the way to go, and we’re going to get that now with Ziglar in the writing spot.

What If…Miles Morales is now available in trade paperback format from Marvel Comics.

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