Thursday, May 30, 2013

Why You should Read Miles Morales...

Despite the flak I throw at Age of Ultron, I am still a huge fan of Brian Michael Bendis. While I am behind on the Ultimate Spider Man (USM) series by a few issues and I am loving Dan Slott's run on Superior Spider Man (SSM), I find that USM is the best Spider Man story out there. I said it.

I am biased. Sara Pichelli's Miles Morales looks like my middle son (her pencils are amazing by the way). Morales attends a charter school like my younger two children. Morales' Uncle Aaron, who he believes he kills, reminds me of a particular uncle I have and my children have. We are Afro Latino like Miles Morales. So this Spider Man speaks to me. So not only is Bendis my favorite writer, it feels like he is writing to me.

However, if you want to discuss intersectionality, USM is where you need to be. In issue 2, the Morales family attends a lottery for the charter school Miles hopes to attend. This sounds familiar for many parents throughout economically deprived communities throughout the United States. Here we see Morales' moral compass as he is emotionally torn when he wins a slot for the coveted charter school and he watches other children cry when their name is not called as a lottery winner.

While Bendis kept the moral compass debate central to the story, Morales is definitely different. His parents are alive as well as his Uncle Aaron/The Prowler. The relationship between Morales, his father, and Uncle Aaron is fragile. While Uncle Aaron maintains his criminal career, Morales' father gave it up years ago and keeps it under wraps. Even Morales does not know what his father used to do or what made him give up that lifestyle. He is told to stay away from his Uncle Aaron which he disobeys. It's clear that Morales loves his Uncle Aaron dearly. His uncle also keeps his criminal career and history secret from Morales.

The twist is the entire story is that Morales becomes Spider Man due to Aaron's criminal acts. He steals a bioengineered spider that bites Morales. Aaron realizes Morales' powers earlier and decides to convince his nephew to help him take over the criminal underground. When Morales initially refuses, Aaron threatens to tell his father who is vocally anti mutant. While I don't think Morale's father would get a heart attack, Morales is only 12 and assumes that his father would disown him like any 12 year old child. Morales however refuses Aaron's offer and chooses to avoid his uncle. Eventually there is a showdown that ends in Aaron's death. While it was completely accidental, Morales accepts full blame. On top of the that, the media has also laid blame on Spider Man. This is the turning point in Morale's young life where he realizes that being Spider man is not a game.

I think when Bendis throws Steve Rogers into the mix, we see Morales really step up his game. During the Divided We Fall Ultimate Universe crossover, Morales joins the Ultimates and even saves Rogers' life again. This is seen on national television and throws folks behind Morales. He begins to see that doing the right thing does pay off.

While I think Bendis is going too fast with Morales and his powers (even though the Spider sting is something Morales is working on), he has done a good job of developing the characters around Morales' life. As usual Bendis really sets things up with his build up. Currently, they are going throgh the Venom storyline and the fight scenes are exquisite. While Dan Slott is doing a great job on Superior Spider Man, USM remains the best Spidey title out there.  

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