Nowadays when you ask a comic book fan what they are reading one of the top answers is “Miles Morales: The Ultimate Spider-Man” and the reason isn’t just because he’s black—though there’s a lot of us that are still holding out hope for Donald Glover in the next Spider-Man movie. The truth is that Miles Morales represents a lot of what made Peter Parker such a compelling character all those years ago when he first started, before that nonsense with Mephisto and psychic Doc Ock. Miles allows there to be a Spider-Man that is learning all of this for the first time, it allows Spider-Man to be that hero with good intentions and a sweet naivete that cynical Peter Parker lost long ago. It’s tough to pit two young men against each other like this and say which one is better but fans will do it anyways: Who’s does it better, Spider-Man or Invincible?
First, where did Miles Morales come from? Well, after the whole “Donald Glover for Spider-Man” thing didn’t pan out, Marvel decided to take the initiative and pull the trigger, they’d have a black Spider-Man. But not in the main universe because that’s too much commitment. So now we get to talk about the Ultimates universe. Remember when I reviewed that issue of the Ultimates? I said that because things don’t matter much, writers are allowed to do whatever crazy idea pops in their heads. The same applies for Ultimate Spider-Man. So in this universe Green Goblin killed Peter Parker and Miles Morales took up the mantle of Spider-Man. By the way, the Green Goblin of this universe is an actual goblin. Oh and Peter Parker Spider-Man is back and everyone is freaking out. Also? Carnage is a vampire that sucked Gwen Stacy dry and she died but she’s back now. Sorry, done now.
So this issue kicks off in the midst of a Spider-Man vs Green Goblin smack down. The action in the fight is intense and amazing, Miles holds his own the entire fight but clearly he could never take down Green Goblin. He does showcase his array of fantastic tricks, even catching Green Goblin by surprise. The fight gets really spectacular when Miles camouflages in the middle of the fight and when Green Goblin is least expecting it—BOOSH! He hits him with a newspaper vending machine right in the back of his head. It was truly awesome and exactly what any fan of traditional Spider-Man would want to see in a fight. Though I wish the entire book was as fantastic as this fight.
One of the issues that seems to be a holdover from Peter Parker Spider-Man is girl trouble. I’m not talking about regular relationship stuff that every teenager goes through. Miles tells his girlfriend (Kate Bishop! I know! Super cool!) that he’s Spider-Man, at which point she decides she can’t be with him because her parents are actually super villains. Also? She can’t tell him because of reasons. Gah! What does Marvel have against good relationships? There can be interesting interactions between two people without throwing in a clandestine family figure or a secret alien prophecy. The worst part is that by purposefully not disclosing the truth, we’re gonna have to read Miles whine about it for three or four issues before this gets resolved instead of being able to confront the issue when it comes up in the first place. I suppose it’s harsh to gripe on a comic for a measly subplot but a book can become flimsy when the characters are choosing actions not because of their own motivations but to add more artificial drama.
You might be thinking that I’ll compare Miles Morales Spider-Man to when Mark had to take over after his father turned evil and left right? Nope! Because “Invincible” did almost this exact same thing. When Mark was exposed to the Viltrumite virus, he lost all of his powers and was unable to superhero. So in his stead Bulletproof was tasked with keeping the mantle of Invincible alive. So here is the primary hero being indisposed and the mantle being filled by a black guy. And it was superb. We got to see someone stepping in to shoulder the weight of the world when Mark couldn’t. What was great was this gave us the chance to see the excitement and the wonder of being the world’s greatest super hero. Mark looked at being Invincible as his mighty, arduous duty but the new guy only saw the greatness of being Invincible.