Miles Morales: Ultimate Spider-Man: Ultimate Collection, Book 1

Brian Michael Bendis

Book cover

I picked this book up because I loved the “Into the Spider-Verse” movie that came out earlier this year. For those who don’t know, Miles Morales is an alternate-universe Spider-Man who is an Afro-Latino kid from Brooklyn rather than a white kid from Queens. This volume covers much of the same basic territory as the 2019 movie–though, in keeping with the theme of the movie, it is sort of an “alternate-universe” version of the same story. We get the origin story of Miles Morales, the death of Peter Parker in Miles’s universe, and a crossover story where Morales teams up with the alternate universe’s (living) Peter Parker. But there are some subtle differences, which for me break in both directions. The book does a much better job building up to Miles being bitten by a mutant spider, which in the movie just seems to be a totally random event. In addition, the book’s explanation of the mutant spider also clearly explains why Miles has spider-powers that are somewhat similar and somewhat different from Peter Parker’s, which is just presented as fact in the movie. Finally, Miles’s roommate Ganke is a much bigger part of the book, and he is a great character. On the other hand, I thought the movie did a much better job of handling the character of Miles’s Uncle Aaron/The Prowler. The movie portrays him as a flawed but redeemable man who has gotten mixed up in some dirty business. In the book, he is a much less empathetic character who is more or less irredeemably cruel to Miles once he finds out his secret identity. I was also disappointed that the book didn’t feature Miles speaking Spanish with his mom (who is basically a non-entity in the book), which I thought was a nice touch in the movie (particularly the choice not to include subtitles).

Overall, I enjoy the Miles Morales version of Spider-Man, and am looking forward to reading some of the further volumes. He’s a well-written character with more interesting family and personal relationships than Peter Parker. I like that he has different powers, although I was a little disappointed that he ultimately gets Peter Parker’s web-shooters, which basically results in him having all of the basic Spider-Man powers, plus invisibility and the “venom blast” (which itself doesn’t really make sense to me because it seems to be more like an electric shock). I think a totally non-web-based Spider-Man would have been pretty interesting.

My Goodreads rating: 4 stars