Today’s Super Comic — Spider-Man #5 (2016)

What a fun series this is!

In #5, Spider-Man (Miles Morales) is captured by Black Cat, foe and ex-girlfriend of the original Spidey, and Hammerhead, foe of the original Spidey but not an ex. His best friend has to cover for him with his mother, shortly after he’s committed a major secret-identity faux pas. His father meets with a certain government agency to protect him. His grandmother hires a certain private investigator to see if Miles is doing drugs. And a former trainee of a certain mutant team has entered his life.

The book is so full of character. Life is never easy for the protagonist. No one in the supporting cast lacks motivation for their behavior. And the various plotlines move forward at just the right pace, always plenty going on.

It’s Spider-Man as he’s meant to be, even if he’s not Peter Parker in this case.

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis

Artist: Sara Pichelli

Publisher: Marvel Comics

How to Read It: recent back issues; Marvel Unlimited; Comixology; included in Spider-Man: Miles Morales vol. 1

Appropriate For: ages 10 and up

Today’s Super Comic — Spider-Man #3 (2016)

spider-man-3When is a team-up not a team-up? When the title character is grounded!

The superheroics take a break, but the fun continues in #3 as the new Ms. Marvel visits the new Spider-Man. These two are easily Marvel’s best teen superheroes at the moment, so pairing them up—even for just some banter and visual gags—is a delight.

This series started strong, and each issue keeps getting better…and the ominous shenanigans later in the book bode well for subsequent issues. Maybe not so well for Miles, though.

It’s a teen book done right.

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis

Artist: Sara Pichelli

Publisher: Marvel Comics

How to Read It: recent back issues; Marvel Unlimited; Comixology; included in Spider-Man: Miles Morales vol. 1

Appropriate For: ages 10 and up

Today’s Super Comic — Spider-Man #2 (2016)

spider-man-2I’m convinced there’s room for two Spider-Men in the main Marvel Universe.

It makes sense, actually. As great as the Spider-Man concept is, it’s always had one significant flaw: Although his teen years appear to present never-ending challenges, eventually Peter Parker will grow up and become incredibly successful. But if he becomes too successful, then he loses that down-on-his-luck “everyman” quality that has so often defined him. Maintaining the status quo has led to such shark-jumping moments as Peter and Mary Jane’s marriage being magically erased from continuity.

Rather than embark on further silliness, another option is to let Peter grow up while a new kid experiences the headaches of juggling the awkward teen years and Spider-Man responsibilities. And that’s what Marvel seems to be doing these days. The Amazing Spider-Man shows us Peter Parker running a major company as basically the new Tony Stark, while Spider-Man shows us Miles Morales in more traditional Spidey scenarios, but updated for modern times. It’s like “Spider-Man: The Next Generation.”

In #2, part of his costume rips during a public battle, and suddenly the Internet is calling him “Black Spider-Man,” which Miles is none too thrilled about. His Spidey activities are hurting his grades at school. And an old associate of the original Spider-Man might be making some trouble for the new kid.

I have a feeling this series will continue to entertain for quite a while. And I should really get around to reading the Ultimate series that introduced Miles.

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis

Artist: Sara Pichelli

Publisher: Marvel Comics

How to Read It: recent back issues; Marvel Unlimited; Comixology

Appropriate For: ages 10 and up

Today’s Super Comic — Spider-Man #1 (2016)

Spider-Man_Vol_2_1Not every Spider-Man stars Peter Parker these days, and this has been the case for the past several years. Marvel’s alternate-universe Ultimate line replaced its teenaged Peter Parker with an entirely new teenaged character, Miles Morales, who was met with acclaim by readers and critics alike.

I never got around to reading Miles’s series, primarily because I can’t read everything and Spider-Man is Peter Parker. (I didn’t read the stretch of issues where Doctor Octopus was pretending to be Spider-Man either.) I was glad to see people getting excited about a new Spider-Man, but it wasn’t my Spider-Man. I was around in the days when Superman got replaced by four imposters, Batman got replaced by a psycho, and Green Lantern went crazy and got replaced by an inexperienced younger guy. So I’m a bit biased against replacements who weren’t well-established proteges (like Wally West, Dick Grayson, or Sam Wilson becoming Flash, Batman, or Captain America). This may have been my mistake.

Due to events I’m unfamiliar with, Miles has somehow found his way to the Marvel Universe proper and coexists with the original Spidey. But I wasn’t the least bit lost when I decided to check in on the new Spider-Man #1 when it hit Marvel Unlimited.

The comic effectively introduces him to new readers and introduces his Marvel Universe status quo to preexisting fans, and it does so without any deluge of exposition. We see Miles in both his school and his superhero lives, and we meet his parents and best friend, getting a sufficient sense of who everyone is and what the dynamics between them are. Writer Brian Michael Bendis captures the spirit of Spider-Man in this (relatively) new character—Miles is a good kid who tries to do the right thing, even though doing the right thing often causes personal problems for him, whether it’s losing a date or letting his report card take a hit.

He may not be the Spider-Man of my youth, but so far Miles Morales looks like a worthy Spider-Man to me.

And the cliffhanger guarantees I’ll check out the second issue.

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis

Artist: Sara Pichelli

Publisher: Marvel Comics

How to Read It: recent back issues; Marvel Unlimited; Comixology

Appropriate For: ages 10 and up

Today’s Super Comic — Guardians of the Galaxy #12 (2014)

Guardians of the Galaxy 12The problem with crossovers if sometimes you’re not reading both or all series involved, which then requires a decision. Do you spring for the extra books and potentially feel coerced into buying them? Or do you just skip them and try to make sense of a partial storyline?

I’ve gotten pretty good at the second option over the years. It’s not ideal, but it works well enough. One recent time was when All-New X-Men and Guardians of the Galaxy, both written by Brian Michael Bendis, crossed over for “The Trial of Jean Grey.”

I read the X-Men parts as they came out and enjoyed those issues, even with the other half of the story missing. But thanks to Marvel Unlimited, I’ve finally caught up on the other half, and it’s also full of good stuff.

A particularly strong part was Guardians of the Galaxy #12, during which young, time-displaced Cyclops learns his father is not dead, and present-day Corsair experiences a second difficult reunion with his son. Also, the Shi’ar confront young Jean Grey with the horrors she will someday commit as Phoenix. It’s an interesting sci-fi conundrum—is someone culpable for crimes they haven’t yet committed but are destined to?

My only quibble is that the story demotes the Guardians to guest stars in their own book. But it’s a solid X-Men story.

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis

Pencilers: Sara Pichelli and Stuart Immonen

Inkers: Sara Pichelle and Wade Von Grawbadger

Publisher: Marvel Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Marvel Unlimited; Comixology; Guardians of the Galaxy/All-New X-Men: The Trial of Jean Grey (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 11 and up