Graphic Novel Review: Spider-Men II

Spider-Men II

Spider-Men II - Credit: Archant

Who is the other Miles Morales?

(Panini Books)

When the Marvel and Ultimate Universes existed on separate dimensional planes, crossovers between the two realities were a rare and wonderful thing, until the floodgates were finally opened when the MU Peter Parker met his UU counterpart Miles Morales in the first Spider-Men series.

With Miles having begun his wall-crawling career in memory of the deceased Peter of his reality, the focus was very much on the contrasts between the two webslingers.

During their first meeting, the 14-year-old Miles was a relatively new hero, far less experienced and confident than his predecessor, and also desperately trying to live up to Peter’s legacy as a hero. In contrast, the mainstream Parker was enjoying one of the most consistently positive periods of his troubled life, with a burgeoning career as a research scientist and membership of the Avengers.

For Miles, the meeting provided an unexpected opportunity to receive the blessing of his inspiration, and to come out of this encounter a much more confident crime fighter, spiritually and emotionally rewarded by the meeting.

Returning to his home reality afterwards, the MU Peter decided to Google Miles Morales to see whether he had an equivalent in his reality. His shocked reaction at what he discovered provided the unresolved cliff-hanger to the series.

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Flash-forward several years, and in the wake of the Secret Wars crossover Miles, his friends and family have been transplanted to the Marvel Universe, with only the two Spider-Men aware of the switch, and interactions between the senior and junior Spideys has become commonplace.

But with long-term Morales scribe Brian Bendis leaving Marvel for a new gig writing Superman for DC, wrapping up some of his outstanding plot threads seems to be on the agenda, starting off with the question: who is the other Miles Morales?

The answer is the crux of this sequel, which unfortunately doesn’t deliver on the promise of the first Spider-Men series, possibly as a result of the sweeping changes in Marvel continuity imposed since then. It seems highly likely that Bendis was planning a bigger pay-off with the revelation of the MU Miles than the story explored here, which just doesn’t deliver on the dramatic build-up.

That said, there’s still a lot to enjoy from this volume, especially in the lovely character moments between the two web-slingers, and the MU Miles and his unlikely best friend (no spoilers here readers!), and the final pay-off is beautifully understated and emotional.