Forget Peter Parker.
Miles Morales is the Spider-Man that everyone should be paying attention to.
In this refreshingly not another origins story (here’s looking at you movie franchise), Miles is an average Brooklyn teen navigating the pressures of keeping his school scholarship, staying out of trouble with his hilarious best friend Ganke, talking to his brilliant crush Alicia, and keeping his web-slinging secret. But, being a teenage superhero is not as easy as it sounds– especially when Miles’ spidey-sense is not as reliable as it used to be and it ends up getting him suspended from school.
I’ve always said that the Marvel-verse should give more love to Miles Morales, so I’m so glad that this book exists. I hope there are at least ten more. This book did everything that I wanted and more, yet still left me wishing that the last page wasn’t the last. As we all know, “with great power comes great responsibility,” and Jason Reynolds really handled that responsibility well.
Not only was Miles Morales a great addition to the Spider-Man story and an entertaining hero vs. villain adventure, it points to some very important topics– racism, poverty, social injustice. We see Miles, a Black-Latino, deal with a teacher who thinks its okay to teach about the “benefits” of slavery. We see the failures of the prison system, especially for juveniles. We see Miles struggle to prove that he won’t fall into a life of crime, like many of the people in his neighborhood. This book sinks so deep– and it’s wonderful.
The benefit of having a character from comic books transition on to the pages of a novel is that you can get more characterization and background with a few paragraphs than from a few panels. (Side note: Not that comic books can’t do that, because they can. I just sometimes find that superhero comics favor the side of action rather than development.) Miles is such a well developed character. He’s dynamic and vulnerable, intelligent and determined. He’s flawed; we see his impulses and failures, but we know that he’s good and that he tries to do good.
Also, Miles Morales and Reynolds really do side characters justice– Ganke’s not just the funny best friend and Alicia’s not just the pretty crush. They have their own emotions and motivations. They struggle and they triumph and not just for the motivation of Miles. Have I mentioned that it’s wonderful?
It’s true that the action and super-villainry play second fiddle and take a while to progress in the novel, but it’s worth it. There’s so much to explore with a diverse superhero like Miles and this novel was a fun way to kick it off.
Plus, Spider-Man is just cool.
Miles Morales (Spider-Man) comes out August 1st, 2017.
I received a free e-ARC of Miles Morales from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.