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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 4 comics last week: Amazing Spider-Man #17, Han Solo #3, Spider-Man #7 and JLA #9.
The best comic I read last week was Spider-Man #7.
Spider-Man is the choice again this week after a brief hiatus from gracing the anals of The Best Sequential Art… This title has been decompressed story-telling at its best. I use the word “best” because I tend to like decompressed story-telling and Brian Michael Bendis has long been recognized as the master of this kind of narrative. What he also has to be recognized as is one of the preeminent writers of teenagers working in fiction (not just in comics) today. Having spent years working with teenagers (and having 3 of my own!) I speak with a little authority here.
There is no way to really say “yeah, this is what a teenager would really be like if he had superpowers” but Spider-Man comes very close to feeling “real.” The story of Miles Morales and his compatriots (including teenage heroes, teenage villains and teenage superpowered characters who don’t know what they are) has been engaging and fun to follow. Equally interesting are the reactions of Miles’ parents (and grandmother) to his extra curriculars. Spider-Man plays as much like a television drama as it does a comic book and that’s too its credit.
Nico Leon steps in to provide pencils and inks that are more than serviceable and he’s greatly aided by the colors by Marte Garcia. He fits into the style of the book that Sara Pichelli has established without aping her work. As a fill-in, he’s excellent, though Pichelli remains the soul of the book to Bendis’ heart.
Bendis is currently shepherding the Marvel company-wide cross over Civil War II. That story hasn’t entirely captured my imagination and Bendis doesn’t spend too much time here trying to convince anyone of the merits of that narrative. Rather he plays out the struggle that Miles is having in the midst of experiencing visions (which are confusing at best) confronting loyalties. This is where the issue shines as Bendis plays out this struggle in Miles. With whom should he side?
As with many (most?) issues facing teenagers, Miles has no easy answer… but it’s this very kind of question – and internal challenge – that makes Miles Morales the most interesting Spider-character Marvel is publishing today and Spider-Man a great read every month.