Welcome to Tales from the Marvel Lake House: Arachnid Edition! Recently, in the Marvel U. it seems there’s been plenty of Power and Responsibility to go around. Both Miles Morales and Gwen Stacy (Earth – 65) have gotten new books recently and I’ve gotten caught up on both of them. It’s mid-fall here at the lake house, we’re cleaning up the place and getting ready to hunker down for the winter, and some spider-books were just the thing to take our minds off cleaning and the cold. I’m sure all of you readers in future land are enjoying your late spring and out and about. I didn’t remember hearing much about these titles when they came out, so here goes.
Writer: Seanan Mcguire
Penciler: Takeshi Miyazawa
Cover Artist: Jorge Molina
Your Solicits: GWEN STACY MAKES HER WAY TO THE MARVEL UNIVERSE! With a cloud of infamy hanging over her head on Earth-65, GWEN STACY now travels to Earth-616 for superhero action…and school?! The newest student at ESU is about to get a crash course in multiversity as she splits her time between the world she loves and the world she’s just getting to know! But what devious villain has eyes on Gwen’s travels? Is Gwen ready for what comes next?
I originally got turned on to this book by the Acts of Evil annual I reviewed by Vita Ayala. Much has changed with the character since I last checked in on Earth – 65. However, I wasn’t lost in the least as Mcguire, much like Ayala in the annual, does an excellent job of bringing readers up to date on the status quo and easing us into the current continuity. The plot conceit of Gwen traveling to the 616 to go to college in order to avoid her current notoriety in Earth – 65 is clever. It allows us to see Gwen in a familiar environment but still ties her to her universe in a way that doesn’t feel like overload in an already crowded Spider-Cast on 616. The interplay between Peter and Gwen is sharp and witty, without seeming forced or unnatural. There’s an excellent bit of exposition about Gwen’s symbiote suit that I hope is a bit of foreshadowing. Their dialogue also addresses the awkwardness of the two of them being friends at all, considering the relationship each of them had with their deceased dimensional counterparts. If I had any complaints at all about the story, it would be that there just wasn’t enough of it here. This issue really is just a setup issue and truly leaves the reader wanting more.
Regarding Takeshi Miyazawa’s art, all I can say is Wow. They have a clean, animated line, similar to some of my favorites like Phil Hester or Chris Samnee, but with just enough abstraction and messiness to evoke the likes of the Moon Brothers. I want to point out Ian Herring’s colors here. Herring has done an excellent job of continuing to use a cool neon color palette for Earth – 65, something I originally accredited to Robbi Rodriguez in the original Spider-Gwen book. Here, its less defined than back then but still works for a good shorthand when your story takes place between two worlds.
Between the killer art, whip-smart script, and fun concept, Ghost-Spider is an excellent first issue to what I hope is going to be a long run for this team, (which means if it hits 12 issues, I’ll be ecstatic.)
Miles Morales: Spider-Man #10 (or 250)
Writer: Saladin Ahmed
Penciler: Javier Garron, Annie Wu
Cover Artist: Mahmud Asrar
Your Solicit: SPIDER-SEMIQUINCENTENNIAL OR BIG 250th ANNIVERSARY ISSUE? That’s right, it’s our 250th issue and it’s Miles Morales’ birthday! But YOU’RE getting all the gifts! A mystery dating back to Miles’ first appearance? Answered! A terrifying villain destined to become one of Miles’ greatest adversaries? Revealed! Special guests, like maybe Peter Parker: Spider-Man? YOU KNOW IT! All busting out of 25 pages by main series storytellers Saladin Ahmed and Javier Garrón, PLUS a bonus back-up by Ahmed and a special guest artist delving into the history of your new favorite character, STARLING! Your FOMO is well-founded! DON’T MISS IT!
It’s a long-standing tradition to pair anniversary issues with big life events and Saladin Ahmed uses Ultimate Spidey’s 250th issue (or Miles 10th) to give Miles his sweet sixteen. As his parents try their hardest to embarrass miles on his birthday we see a Miles who’s taken up the Spidey-trope of hanging up the tights. He’s brought out of retirement when Peter (O.G. Spidey) crashes his birthday party to encourage Miles to retake his mantle of “Brooklyn’s Spider-Man.” Next, we see Miles take on a villain we haven’t seen since Bendis’ time on the Ultimate Spider-Man book, a character that shouldn’t even exist in this universe, Ultimate Green Goblin. This triggers some involuntary memories in Miles that put him off his game for a bit, but he holds his own until a second villain arrives dressed in what looks like castoffs from the Ultimate’s lost and found. What I like about this story is that Ahmed seems to be playing with the problematic elements of Miles rather than running from them. By making the 1610 universe a complication rather than something that was written off in a Deus Ex Machina (hello Molecule Man and a cheeseburger…) Ahmed leans into an aspect of Miles that is more than just the “Brooklyn Spider-man” or the other differing qualification that I refuse to go near with a 10-foot cattle prod.
The art by Javier Garron is interesting and unique. On initial viewing, it smacks of standard superhero fare. On closer inspection, there’s a definitive style there that while reminiscent of stalwarts like JRJR or Chris Samnee, is greater than the sum of its parts. Garron uses a fun juxtaposition of photorealism and animation to give every character a distinctive look and feel. I’m not sure if I’ve seen this guy on any other book but he’s definitely one to look out for.
I know Miles is the new hotness ever since Into the Spider-verse blew everyone’s minds at the box office. So I’m relieved that the character is in such capable hands with Ahmed and Garron and I look forward to what they have in store for the character going forward.
Anyway, remember if you’re not in a hurry, and not paying cover, everything deserves a chance…
JD Ketcham is a writer of imaginative fiction in comics and prose as well as the owner of Planet Fiction Productions. Otherwise, he’s been a professional musician, barista, bartender, and musical instrument repairman. He’s an unabashed geek and aficionado of all things comic books, dogs, genre fiction, good coffee, and Irish whiskey.