I have not read Miles Morales’s adventures in the Marvel Universe since the second issue of Spider-Man. While Brian Bendis got me to like Miles through Ultimate Spider-Man I have not been a big fan of his integration into the main Marvel Universe. There was very little for me to connect with the character running around in a universe filled with Spider-Men and –Women. That said I am a big fan of Jason Latour and Robbi Rodriguez’s run on Spider-Gwen. It has been a very cool change of pace from everything else going on at Marvel. And because I am such a big fan of Spider-Gwen I’m willing to give Bendis’ Spider-Man another chance since the two series are now crossing over. Will Bendis surprise me with this first part of the Spider-Man/Spider-Gwen crossover? Let’s find out with Spider-Man #12.
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Sara Pichelli
Inker: Gaetano Carlucci
Colorist: Justin Ponsor
Story Rating: 3 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 5.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Somewhere in New York Spider-Man (Miles Morales) and Spider-Woman (Earth-65 Gwen Stacy) are kissing on a rooftop.
Sometime later Miles tells his friends Ganke Lee and Fabio Medina about kissing Spider-Woman. They don’t believe Miles but he keeps saying that it is true. Miles says he thought that with Ganke being on his case about getting a girlfriend for so long Ganke would be happy about this development in his love life.
Ganke says he is happy but wonders what happened to Miles’ dad. Miles suddenly remembers something about his dad.
Miles reveals that recently his mom called him to say that his dad was missing. While he was out searching New York City for his dad Miles tried his best to calm his mom down and told her to call the cops about his dad missing. Miles’ mom calms down and agrees that she should call the cops about his missing dad. Before hanging up Miles’ mom says she’ll call him back if she hears anything.
With his mom calmed down Miles swings through the city as Spider-Man desperately searching for his father alone since things got so crazy with Civil War that he can’t contact anyone to help him out.
Ganke asks if Miles ever thought about going to SHIELD for help. Miles says that the only person that could’ve helped him was Tony Stark since Tony owes him big after Civil War, but he is out of commission.
Miles continues his story in which he ends his search as Spider-Man at one of New York City’s bridges.
While contemplating what to do next a SHIELD Helicarrier shows up with Maria Hill flying down to meet with Spider-Man, who she addresses as Miles.
Ganke and Fabio are surprised that Maria addressed him by his first name. Miles tells his friends that Maria told him that his dad rejoined SHIELD to protect him.
Miles continues his story with Maria revealing that his dad was on a mission to clean up some loose ends following the events of the superhero Civil War. Miles continues to push Maria for answers on his dad’s location. Maria says that his dad was looking for hard intel on high-stakes tech that was going on sale but he ended up disappearing.
Miles is still confused as to how his dad disappeared without a trace. Maria reveals that he doesn’t seem to be anywhere on the planet because if he was SHIELD would be able to find him, using how she found Miles’s exact location as an example.
Miles thinks his dad might be dead. Maria apologizes for making Miles think that. She then shows Miles the type of tech his dad was looking for: a teleporter that can across dimensions and realities.
Miles says he recognizes the device Maria is showing him. Maria then says she believes that Miles’ dad is in another dimension and requests Miles to use the device to find him.
In the present, Ganke and Fabio are surprised SHIELD would send Miles on such a mission.
Miles continues his story as Maria reveals that the mission his dad was on was not sanctioned and was an off-the-books mission. Miles wonders why that is and Maria says that she may be the one responsible for the tech being out in the wild. She continues to say she was stretched thin so she decided to use a rookie agent to go on this off-the-books mission.
Maria goes on to say that she now needs Miles as Spider-Man to take on this mission and save his father. Miles does not have to hear another word and agrees to the mission in order to save his dad.
Miles tells his friends in the present that SHIELD’s science division had programmed the device for his dad’s last known location, though it may not be where he actually was.
Back to his story, as Spider-Man Miles opens up a dimensional gate and jumps into it without knowing where he was going.
Spider-Man ends up in a city that looked like his New York City but with a slightly different look and smell. Spider-Man searches the city and ends up finding some guys surrounding a woman.
Spider-Man confronts the guys but ends up getting knocked off the sign he was on by a sharp ring. The ring thrown at him came from the woman he thought he was saving. The woman uses a device on her belt to launch more sharp rings that Spider-Man dodges. Spider-Man soon uses his webs to grab a nearby food stand and drops in on the woman he is fighting.
One of the rings still flying around ends up hitting Spider-Man and knocks him to the ground, much to his embarrassment. Spider-Man picks himself up and is greeted by Spider-Woman (Spider-Gwen), who says she is not going to help him clean up the mess he created.
In the present Miles tells his friends that at that moment he knew Spider-Woman would be something to him in the future. End of issue.
The Good: Coming into Spider-Man #12 I wanted nothing more than to not only enjoy it but be given a reason to possibly continue reading this series past the crossover with Spider-Gwen. Unfortunately rather than be intrigued by the potential of the crossover I was left bored with Spider-Man #12, especially the first half of the issue. A lot of this boredom falls to the choice in the approach to telling the story.
One positive thing that I can say about Spider-Man #12 is that Brian Bendis made the right choice to give us the big moment of Miles Morales and Gwen Stacy kissing at the beginning of the issue. It was the big hook of this crossover from a promotional standpoint and to give it to us right away allows fans not to have to think about when it is coming. Instead, now we can focus on what happens that leads to the two characters kissing since we only get the kiss from Miles’s perspective. Since we don’t have full context behind the kiss it leads us to ponder what is really going on with the story.
What lifts Spider-Man #12 to better than it should’ve been was Sara Pichelli’s excellent artwork. Every time I’ve been lucky enough to read a comic book featuring artwork from Pichelli that issue has been made better, and Spider-Man #12 is no different. Pichelli has a great handle on how to make her character designs match what is being said by the writer. She also does an excellent job of making the worlds she draws feel big and expansive. And even though she hasn’t drawn Spider-Gwen before she does a very good job capturing the different vibe Earth-65 has compared to the main Marvel Universe.
The Bad: As I mentioned earlier, the choice to show us the kiss between Miles and Gwen was the correct one to make. What did not go over as well was framing the entire issue from Miles’s perspective of retelling what just happened to his friends. The choice in storytelling method made all of the dialogue comes off as Bendis himself explaining to us why we should be excited about what is going on. This in turn made it sound like Bendis was talking rather than Miles Morales.
This way of storytelling immediately impacts how we should view this as an important adventure following everything Miles Morales went through during Civil War II. Because on top of everything Miles went through in that event, he now has to deal with his father disappearing into another universe. This alone should’ve been the driving force behind Miles’s motivation. Instead by having this story re-told to others Bendis takes the importance of Miles’ father’s disappearance and makes us focus on his kiss with Gwen since that is what was important to Miles.
The choice also makes the story feel like it is dragging its feet until Miles makes the jump to Earth-65 because we have to follow multiple forms of dialogue and scenes at the same time. The switches to Miles and his friends especially get in the way of the serious discussion he has with Maria. It all just further reinforced how much Miles telling this all as a story to his friend was unnecessary. Instead, we should have been learning about what was going on with Miles rather than him knowing all the details.
This is a shame because one of the most important things that Bendis established in developing Miles’ character was his relationship with his parents. With everything Miles has gone through with his parents that should’ve been the main focus after getting the brief glimpse into the future of the story. It would’ve allowed the story to grow organically and given us a chance to see more into this story than Miles believing Gwen is his girlfriend now.
Not helping the story was the forced tie-in to Civil War II. With the rest of the story not mattering too much to what is going on in the Marvel Universe this felt unnecessary. Especially since this is a crossover involving another universe there was no need for Bendis to mention Civil War II. It would’ve been a much more impactful mention if this story directly followed up with what went Miles in that event. But since it doesn’t matter to this crossover Bendis should’ve saved the post-Civil War II status for Miles for the next arc of the series.
This issue also does not help make Maria Hill look like a strong character at all. Instead of being the confident leader she usually is, Bendis goes with the route of making her a light-hearted character that is up for some banter. Her long-winded response did not help her case of why she sent Miles’ dad on a secret mission when he was just a rookie SHIELD agent. Maria’s characterization is just another example of less is more when it comes to dialogue. It also did not help that Bendis couldn’t help himself with Maria’s last bit of dialogue which was more cringe-inducing rather than comedic.
Overall: Spider-Man #12 is a victim of the choice in its story structure by its writer severely hurting any momentum created by the hype leading up to a crossover. Brian Bendis does very little to create further excitement for this crossover between Spider-Man and Spider-Gwen passed the promoted hook of Miles Morales and Gwen Stacy’s kiss. The only saving grace is the fantastic artwork by Sara Pichelli, who continues to be one of Marvel’s biggest stars. Hopefully, the next chapter in this crossover taking place in the pages of Spider-Gwen, a series I’m a huge fan of, is able to create interest in the crossover.