The first issue of Spider-Man was a basic introduction to Miles Morales world – the second issue carries a lot more baggage. Full discretion: spoilers incoming.
We ended last issue with Spider-Man (uh, Peter Parker) arriving post-Miles Morales saving the day and taking out Blackheart after he’d defeated all of the Avengers (that is Iron Man and Captain America) thanks to a specially designed tool. The first issue at hand comes forth from Peter Parker, who, despite giving Miles permission to hold onto the Spider-Man epithet, he’s having second thoughts, especially coming forth to the disaster before him. I was initially a bit disappointed in Peter’s introduction, it felt a bit uncharacteristic of him but he quickly comes around to being his witty, somewhat self-deprecating, yet lighthearted self. Particularly after Blackheart returns and Miles Morales takes him out in a much more permanent fashion.
It’s always seemed that superheroes in Marvel and DC and what have you, tend to take events in their world as a given. Demons, world-eating galactic monsters, aliens, gods, etc. The reality that these things exist in the world sometimes seems to escape them. I was glad to see Miles Morales be genuinely fearful and disgusted by the fact that he just went head to head with a literal demon, because I totally wasn’t expecting it. I was expecting it to be just another accepted reality of the life of a superhero. It would be even better yet if this sort of realistic approach weighed further on him, the sheer scope of the world that he lives in.
The biggest thing worth addressing, though, was the worldwide revelation that the new Spider-Man is black. Brian Michael Bendis seemed to address all of the fanfare that inevitably accompanies a series like All-New, All-Different Avengers and the new main Spider-Man through the YouTube fangirl. We have a female Thor. A black Captain America. And now we have a black Spider-Man. It’s unprecedented and she’s excited about the diversity – she’s excited that it’s a whole new world. It’s how a lot of us felt. It’s how I felt. I mean, Marvel’s main Avengers line is at the moment, 5 white dudes and a 1 white girl. Age of Ultron is six white guys and two white girls. Though I suppose if you add Vision, War-Machine, Falcon – all of whom are mostly back-up roles, you sort of rectify that. Hell, even the two girls in this case definitely take a back-seat. This is all to say that, yeah, AN-AD Avengers should not be a big deal in 2016, but it is.
Miles Morales presents another perspective I hadn’t really thought of but entirely agree with. His issue with the whole matter is, he doesn’t want his identity as a black-hispanic to matter in regards to his identity as Spider-Man. He doesn’t want to be known as the Black Spider-Man. Which, for a while, and still today, is how a lot of people address Spider-Man. And hey, here’s my conscious effort, if I need to separate the original Spider-Man from the newer one, well, Peter Parker and Miles Morales are household names enough to identify them. Back to the point at hand. He wants to be recognized as Spider-Man period. No prefix – no differentiation by who he is behind the mask. I said I agree with him but I also disagree with him to a certain extent. The fact that he is black – matters, the fact that Sam Wilson is also black, is also relevant. The fact that these two heroes are black will normalize the idea, in this world, of black mainstream superheroes so that the next black (or any other identity for that matter) person that takes on that mantle won’t have their personal identity relevant to the matter, it’ll be normal at that point, it’ll be accepted.
It sucks that Miles Morales and Sam Wilson have to be the guys that normalize this but it’s a necessity.
Aside from that huge matter at hand, we got two build-ups for the next issue. Miles Morales grandmother is in town and she’s not at all pleased with Miles’s grades (he did just skip class to save the world, so he’s definitely not faring well in the education department) and Black Cat seems to be out to get Spider-Man just as opinionated TV folks debated the role superheroes and new superheroes play in the world.
A terrific issue for the issues it brought up and definitely looking forward to the next one, I’m hoping Bendis never shies away from discussing some topics because they’re pretty relevant when we discuss these new series from an outward perspective, it’s great to see how the people in this world regard that matter too.