A Real Groundhog Day Situation: Reviewing ‘Miles Morales: Spider-Man’ #36
by Scott Redmond
While Miles Morales’ star has never been higher within the film and other realms, the character is stuck in a proverbial rut when it comes to his birthplace, the realm of comics. An overreliance on past elements is keeping the character from the heights he should be soaring through on a regular basis. A partially new creative team does their best to move things along, but an overall lack of consistency for the book as a whole is beginning to take its toll.
As a comic book, Miles Morales: Spider-Man is just inherently fine. There isn’t anything spectacular about it and there isn’t anything bad or off-putting about the series. Unfortunately, just fine, treading water is not something that should be said about a title featuring Miles Morales, one of the most popular new Marvel characters of the last decade.
Yet, here we are once again. Another issue, and another entry in the series that just seems to keep the same simmering plotline crawling along rather than moving things in any significant fashion. No matter the new issue number, one can’t help but feel we’ve been here before.
Sometimes there are things that happen to a character that unfortunately become the go-to element that comes up with them in a lot of stories. Wolverine, Hulk, Batman, and so many more all have some particular types of storylines or tropes repeated from time to time as they reach higher decade counts of existence. With Miles Morales, it’s the multiverse that has become such an anchor to the character in many respects.
Of course, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is fantastic and its sequels are sure to be hits, but in comic books, the multiverse has become a heavier and heavier anchor that just weighs the character down. There is so much potential that Miles has as a character, and it feels almost wasted in a way to see him constantly dealing with the multiverse, Uncle Aaron stuff, and the Assessor/Ultimatum/Ultimate Universe stuff that has been the repeated bits of Saladin Ahmed’s whole run.
Peter Parker has the constant dealing with losing a job/struggling to make ends meet, while Miles has dimension-hopping woes every other day of the week through most mediums he appears within.
Ahmed writes a fine Miles and is a good writer overall, but this series just seems to have perhaps gotten away from him some as it doesn’t appear to have a destination. One of many ‘bigger’ Marvel titles that seems to just be running in circles or just slowly pulling itself towards some potential conclusion at some point too far ahead. Having seen what Ahmed is capable of in other stories, one has to wonder what just might be holding things back when it comes to this particular series.
There isn’t a ton to grab onto here as the issue is literally just a tour of the multiverse as Miles and Shift jump into a wild west world from Ahmed’s years ago Exiles run, a requisite run-in with Spider-Ham, a cliché zombie world, and then, of course, running into the aforementioned Ultimatum in some middle dimension or something.
It feels almost as paint by numbers as writing these reviews have become at times.
Christopher Allan does a fine job with trying to bring all these random places to life, some pages stronger than others as I can imagine trying to draw this many totally different places might have come with some time pressures. There are three inkers here, with Allan joined by Victor Olazaba and Scott Hanna, and it’s often clear that this is the case. Mostly because there are clear differences on the pages in the inking style and the different weights and feels that their inks bring to the page, contrasting sometimes on concurrent pages.
David Curiel brings a lot of great colors to the page, as he tends to do. There is brightness but there isn’t an overwhelming amount of it, and the color palettes switch quite well between the variety of worlds they visit. From a dustier more grounded western feel to the cartoonish world of Spider-Ham, to the dark dreary realm of zombies.
Having Cory Petit and Ariana Maher handling letters is pretty great since the two of them are some of the best letters around. Both of them are great at having dialogue font shift and change to match tone/volume and allow personality to shine, as well as bringing in lots of immersive big bold interactive SFX and colorful textual elements.
Another month brings another just fine issue of a series, that will mostly be forgotten the moment it’s been read, only for the basics to pop back into mind come next month when the next issue is opened. Basically, it’s that type of food that will at least sate your hunger for a moment, yet not filling enough to be certain you won’t have to eat again in a couple of hours.
Here is hoping that there is something bigger and grander on the horizon for this title and for Miles Morales but based on the solicitations and multiversal stories to come it’s not seeming that likely.
Miles Morales: Spider-Man #36 is now on sale in print and digitally from Marvel Comics.