As uneven as Bendis’ output has been recently, it’s still nice to know that he can still write a good “Spider-Man” story. Mostly. With the Ultimate Universe having come to an end with “Secret Wars,” Miles Morales is now part of the Marvel Universe proper. He’s still attending Brooklyn Visions Academy and trying to find a way to balance his superhero career, both solo and as a member of the Avengers, with his school life. The problem is that he’s failing pretty bad at it, and his awful grades prompt his mom to get her mother, a no-nonsense tough-love type, involved in getting Miles’ life as she sees it back on track. If that wasn’t bad enough, Miles’ appearance as the new Spider-Man on the block is getting some attention from the old Amazing one’s villains. Specifically: The Black Cat and Hammerhead. With this new guy being one big question mark to them, they want to find out what his deal is and if he needs to be taken out of the picture before he becomes a real problem to them.
Miles’ troubles at school and home are the stuff of classic superhero drama and yet they still manage to entertain here. Bendis is clearly invested in the material as his protagonist’s reactions to all this drama feel genuine. There are also some good moments here between Miles and his best buddy Ganke. While the latter serves an invaluable role as a confidant to his buddy, his fanboy nature does get the better of him here when he tries to force a friendship between Miles and Fabio “Goldballs” Medina (imported over from Bendis’ “Uncanny X-Men” run). Really, all of the human drama in this volume is rock-solid and is the real core of this series.
That’s also true because the superhero action pretty much fizzles out at the end. The fight with Blackheart in the beginning is fine as a means to give Miles a big win for the start of his new series. As for the business with the Black Cat and Hammerhead, it really feels kind of pointless by the end. There’s nothing wrong with having Miles face off against some of the members of Peter’s old rogues gallery, but there were clearly easier and smarter ways for them to get the information they wanted. It does give artist Sara Pichelli a chance to show off her skills with superhero action, even though she’s just as good with all of the human drama. The next volume does show more promise in balancing the human/superhero aspects of this series as Jessica Jones shows up and the story deals with the fallout of “Civil War II,” so that’s good to know.