Review: You Gotta Punch The Dragon In ‘Miles Morales: Spider-Man’ #23

by James Ferguson


Another King in Black tie-in, another fight with a symbiote dragon. What does Miles bring to this fight we’ve seen dozens of times?


After taking over the planet with his symbiote armies, it was only a matter of time before Knull made it to Brooklyn. Miles Morales is not going to let that stand. Brooklyn isn’t the only New York City borough in trouble though and this puts Spider-Man face-to-face with a symbiote-possessed Ms. Marvel. Not only will Miles have to fight a dragon, but he’ll have to fight one of his best friends.

There have been a lot of tie-ins to King in Black so far. Every single one of them has had a hero fight a dragon. We’re three months into the event so it’s old hat by now. I get it. It’s a big spectacle and it looks cool. Artist Carmen Carnero does a great job here. It’s just that we’ve seen this same exact encounter dozens of times by now.

The one unique quality in this fight is that the dragon is actually a dragon. Miles disrupts the symbiote with a venom blast and reveals a winged creature underneath it. That’s new. I thought all these things were just symbiotes that took the form of dragons. If they’re all like this, then recent events, like Silver Surfer killing a bunch of them in King in Black #4, take on a different perspective. Are these innocent creatures or monsters?

Where Carnero really shines is in the fight between Miles and Ms. Marvel. Kamala Khan has always been bright-eyed and cheerful. Here she’s an absolute beast, using her powers in new and interesting ways to catch Miles by surprise. She towers over Spider-Man, using her extra-long limbs to keep him at bay. When Miles shoots some webs, Kamala morphs her body to be like Swiss cheese, filled with holes that the webs pass right through. It’s super creepy and that’s just the beginning. This makes me want a Ms. Marvel horror book.

Adding to the terror is Kamala’s new voice, mirroring that of Knull’s. Letterer Cory Petit shows this in spiky red word balloons with a rough white font.

Colorist David Curiel casts a dreary tone over everything in Miles Morales: Spider-Man #23. The skies are filled with a dark red, creating an ominous mood from the start. This isn’t just a night time scene; it’s an absence of light. This contrasts well with the bright yellows of Miles’ venom blasts.

After his encounters with symbiotes in the early issues of Venom and Absolute Carnage, Miles has an interesting perspective to provide in King in Black. Unfortunately, we don’t get to see any of that as this issue really boils down to a few knock-down drag-out fights. Writer Saladin Ahmed brings some emotion to these battles that hit with some great impact for our young hero.

Miles Morales: Spider-Man #23 from Marvel Comics is currently available at your local comic shop and digitally through ComiXology and Amazon Kindle.

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