As the new series focusing on Miles’s Spider-Man continues, we get a nice, comfortable bottle-story with no ties to any grand crossover events or master plans. Mild Spoilers Ahead.
Written by Saladin Ahmed
Illustrated by Javier Garron
Colored by David Curiel
Lettered by VC’s Cory Petit
Convinced that Miles Morales is a bad egg and constantly skipping school, Brooklyn Visions Academy’s Vice Principal Lyle Dutcher makes it his mission to catch him red-handed. While nearly all of Miles’s absences and tardiness have an excuse or logical reason, Dutcher believes that most or all of them are false. Of course, this new goal comes up just as Miles, Judge, and Barbara decide to take a sick day and spend the day seeing the sights of Brooklyn.
On the flip side of this luck coin, Ganke is sitting out of classes with an ear infection. Pretending that it is more of a flu bug than a non-contagious earache, the gang gets out of class under the pretenses that they will all be sleeping through the pain in their dorm rooms. As plans form on both sides, things come to a head. In this fun homage to Ferris Bueller’s Day Off the friends make their way through their to-do list, but Spider-Man never truly has time to himself. Seeing Mr. Dutcher and his secretary Louise as mirrors of the characters in the film is so perfect and hilariously cute. No matter where they go: the subway, the Brooklyn Museum, even the movies, problems, big and small, show their ugly face.
While the comparisons to the classic 80s comedy are obvious and completely the point of the jokes and nods running through the book, this is purely a Spider-Man story, with all the trappings. Though, I defy you to not hear Yello’s “Oh Yeah” while seeing the gang and Mr. Dutcher blunder their way through awful traffic, downed subway trains and other obstructions while trying to get back to the dormitory in time.
While Miles has been Spider-Man for quite a few years now, with more than one series behind him, having a small scale story is really nice. Especially with this being early in this series, it makes far more sense to focus on his school life, friendships, and budding romances. Like Peter and the other Web-Heads before him, Miles has been thrown into epic tales, major events, and civil wars, but like those previous web-slingers, the heart of the character will always come from the more intimate, neighborhood based plots and this issue is a shining example of that.
While this issue gets him in and out of a few scrapes, the issue as a whole is a relaxing read. As long time readers age, it is easy for them to forget that comics can be for a wider age range than teen/adult and still be engaging and rewarding without the need to ‘change the face of comics’ or ‘reinvent the superhero genre.’ Ahmed’s writing is absolutely solid throughout. He gets right exactly what fans of “Spider-Man” have always looked for. An inside peek at an imperfect personal life of a teenager who is balancing the nightmare that is growing up and being a superhero with all of the craziness and responsibility that comes with the tights.
Javier Garron’s illustrations are energetic, powerful, and really come down to the wonderful detailing. A blend of style that evokes both the modern age of comics and animation that gives the entire book a sense of action. There’s something to be said for art in a superhero book that isn’t just a mildly interesting snapshot of a leap from incredible heights or a fist fight between two characters with super strength. When you can give a real life and energy to even a mundane moment like sitting in a train car or an educator storming from a classroom, you have succeeded at your job of comic book artist. Being able to balance the realistic action of true life and the heightened reality of a comic book can be difficult, but blending the two seamlessly is a true feat. Details like facial features and minor physical reactions can go unnoticed, but Garron brings these to the fore-front while never intruding on what we should be taking away from the action. Characters, dialogue, and even frames leap from the page when the action calls for it, and these things calm back down when necessary. It is an extremely satisfying storytelling device when used properly as it is here. It is nice to see art that can feel like real life, as well as a bit cartoonish, and still be taken seriously.Continued below
As dynamic as Garron’s line work is, David Curiel’s colors knock this one out of the park. Taking this eclectic style and taking it to the next level is exactly what Curiel’s done. While most modern long running superhero comics, especially those published at Marvel and DC are pretty to look at, they rarely stand out as something different. While they can be filled with incredible talent, it is easy to pass it by while reading the story, unless something truly unusual stands out. While not necessarily unusual, Curiel’s use of color and light makes this an absolutely gorgeous comic. Every character and setting gets its own style and palette that come together in a way that the real world does. No two areas are lit the same and no two characters share the same complexion or inner light. Taking every angle and detail into account, the finished product is something to behold. Adding to the excellent design of the book is Cory Petit. His lettering for the dialogue, headers, and sound effects are so much fun and touch on a handful of styles, all imperative to telling this story.
Carrying on Stan Lee and Steve Ditko’s notion that ‘anyone can be behind the mask,’ this series is as much Spidey as any of the original Peter Parker stories. Dodging D-List villains and vice principals, almost being outed as Spidey by his friends, and falling into ‘will they/won’t they’ moments with Barbara is what makes this book so purely enjoyable and will take any fan back to when they turned the page of their first “Spider-Man” comic. It isn’t perfect, but the talent behind it knows how to create a wonderfully fun and light-hearted adventure.
Final Verdict: 8.0, A fun send up of Ferris Bueller mixed with classic Spidey antics, and nicely polished and modern artwork make “Miles Morales: Spider-Man” #4 a delightful read for fans of any age looking to take a break with a comic book.