Brian Michael Bendis sure has his hands full these days, which may be affecting his ability to deliver home-runs in every book. Civil War II #2 was a possible sign of him being stretched too thin, but that wouldn’t be the case for his baby would it? Miles Morales must be getting Bendis’ full attention at all times; he’s arguably Bendis’ greatest creation. The last issue of Spider-Man had me a bit torn as it was a step-down from the previous three issues – will issue #5 serve as a course correction or a step further in the wrong direction?
In the last issue, starstruck Ganke dropped the ball and revealed Miles’ secret identity to ex-X-Man, Goldballs. Spider-Man #5 opens with Goldballs taking Ganke up on his offer to room with him and Miles, and they start to smooth things over concerning the dramatics that ensued last time they were together. While Miles is elsewhere, the two get to know each other more as Ganke tries to fill his new mutant roommate in on how things work and his relationship with Spider-Man. They become distracted by the YouTube girl obsessed with Miles and soon discover that Miles is in danger from Hammerhead. Black Cat – playing the “Kingpin” role still – had hired the flat-topped mobster, and with Miles held captive, they try and deduce who this new Spider-kid is.
They unmask and attempt to fingerprint Miles only to find out that he is completely off the grid; is it because he is protected by S.H.I.E.L.D. or that he is from a no longer existent separate universe? Spider-Man awakes and venom blasts his way out of his restraints and through Hammerhead before unsuccessfully chasing after Black Cat. He webs up and delivers the baddies to NYPD before returning home and patching things up with his best friend and new roommate. In the middle of all the action, Miles’ intrusive grandmother hires Jessica Jones as a P.I. and she begins spying on the young web head. Miles’ dad is also revealed to be meeting with Maria Hill and becoming an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. in exchange for the organization protecting his son the best they can.Spider-Man #5 is a much more enjoyable comic book than the last, closing some less interesting doors to open up more intriguing ones. It was smart for Bendis not to dwell too long in the Black Cat situation as that fell pretty flat in Peter Parker’s return to Amazing Spider-Man and isn’t any more interesting with Miles. It’s nice to see Ganke developing a relationship with someone other than Miles, and he’s finally got someone to vent to about the huge secret he’s had to keep and all the stress involved. Miles’ grandmother continues to be the most annoying character I’ve come across in a comic book in a long time, with her only purpose being to irritate and cheaply further the secondary plot. On the other end of the spectrum, Mr. Morales secretly becoming a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent to protect his son (surely to be exploited in some way by Director Hill) is a very promising new thread. Including Jessica Jones is also an additional side plot that could potentially lead to some great Spider-Man moments.
With Miles being completely off the grid, Black Cat believes it to be because he’s “protected” by S.H.I.E.L.D. Hopefully, Bendis goes in a different direction with that and plays with the fact that the Morales family isn’t from this universe. It would be the first time, to my knowledge, that somebody acknowledges the fact that Secret Wars happened and this family doesn’t actually belong here. Readers may even get an explanation as to why Mrs. Morales is alive and well.
Visually, Spider-Man #5 stays on target and still operates in that hybrid look and feel of the Ultimate universe and that of the 616. However, there were a couple of artistic choices that I took issue with; the first being the decision to put Ganke and Goldballs in the exact same outfit in the beginning of the book. The two characters already look extremely similar and to have them wearing almost identical outfits is a poor choice. Secondly, the addition of cat eyes to the Black Cat costume didn’t sit well with me, it junked up a beautifully simple costume design that has stood the test of time. Finally, when Miles was chasing Black Cat he follows her from a rooftop to the alleyway below. He’s shown standing on the rooftop, then on the ground, no quick panel of his descent. It’s a minor issue but it’s something I couldn’t help but notice.
Overall Spider-Man #5 is a good comic book, it’s got its problems with consistency and artistic choices but it comes together nicely. Bendis set himself up with plenty of potential drama for his beloved Miles Morales and his adventures as Spider-Man; now he just needs to make sure he isn’t too distracted elsewhere to deliver.