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I am a comic book collector and happy to be one. I might say “proud” if I hadn’t, over a year ago, switched to reading digital as opposed to print comics. I feel a bit robbed of the tactile sensations of the hobby – of the turn of the page, the sneaking look to the panel a page over, the bagging and shorting and stacking and filing. Though I read my comics in a different medium than I used to, I still treat each Wednesday (comic book delivery day to specialty shops around the country) as different from the other days of the week. I subscribe and now, rather than go to the comic store to be handed the books pulled for my “Hold Slot,” I click a button on my iPad and watch them download.
Then I read them.
Rare is the week that I don’t read them all between Wednesdays and some weeks I have, well… let’s just say more comic books in my digital downloads than a grown man should. Comic book legend Will Eisner (creator of The Spirit) is one of the most influential men even to put pencil to drawing board in the pursuit of making comics. So influential was he that the industry awards (think the Oscars or the Emmys or the Grammys) are named The Eisner Awards. He called comic books “sequential art,” perhaps because he became embarrassed by his profession when he had to admit what he did for a living. This is my weekly reaction to the comics I read.
I read 7 comics last week: Batgirl #49, Spider-Man #2, Avengers #6, Invincible Iron Man #7, Darth Vader #17, Black Widow #1, Avengers: Assault on Pleasant Hill #1 and Batman and Robin Eternal #22.
The best comic I read last week was Spider-Man #2.
Brian Michael Bendis knows how to write and he knows how to write Spider-Man. Sara Pichelli knows how to draw and she knows how to draw, well, everything. The first issue of this re-booted Miles Morales Spider-Man was terrific.
This issue is even better.
There is a lot to like in this comic from the tight pencils to the expansive writing. There is some good action here. There is interaction between the young Spider-Man and the older, Peter Parker Spider-Man that is played very well. And, as I’ve come to expect from Bendis’ Miles Morales Spider-Man, there is a lot of fun.
All of these elements might make this issue a Pick of the Week for me, but they are not what puts this installment over-the-top. What does that is the meta-commentary that Bendis weaves in the story.
During battle, Miles’ mask is torn and cameras get a good shot of him which illustrates for the public that this Spider-Man isn’t white. He is mistaken for being black (the character is actually of mixed race, black and Hispanic). This causes great stir in some segments of the media and Morales, as written by Bendis, hates the idea of being “the Black Spider-Man.”
Comic books don’t have to be a place for commentary on the big issues facing America to be good. They don’t have to mention the state of race relations in the country to be enjoyable. In fact, in the hands of lesser creators, these issues all too often become ham-fisted and overwrought.
But Bendis and Pichelli are not lesser creators and Spider-Man is not a lesser comic book. It promises to be one of the best books on the shelf each-and-every month.