One of the criticisms of Miles Morales as a character is that despite being an Afro-Latino somehow the issue of race has not been presence in his book. Since Brian Michael Bendis moved Miles over to the primary Earth following the events of Secret Wars he has been gradually introducing the issue. I think addressing the character’s race is important and if done well could add a lot to the development of the character, and do a little good in the world as well. Unfortunately the issue of race here is mishandled and comes out as clumsy and without purpose. Ultimately Sara Pichelli’s amazing (pun intended) art pulls what could have been a mediocre issue up from the depths and ensures that Spiderman #4 is another good issue in what has been already a great run.
Since Secret Wars, one of the continuing issues for Miles has been his inability to balance the various aspects of his life. To be fair being an Avenger, New York’s Spiderman (since the original is currently globetrotting in the Amazing Spiderman) and a full time high school student is pretty ambitious. In previous issues we’ve seen his once stellar grades slip leading to him being grounded, unable to go on patrol with Ms. Marvel, and being watched like a hawk by his grandmother who thinks he may be on drugs. Now Mile’s best friend Ganke thinks he’s completely lost the ability to balance the responsibilities of his dual identity and the rest of his life.
So with all of this going on there is a random insertion of race in a heated exchange between Miles and Ganke. Gold Balls, no I’m not kidding, of Bendis’s previous run on X-Men has just been admitted to Miles’s and Ganke’s high school. In the process of begging Miles to come with him as Ganke attempts to introduce himself Ganke makes the statement “it’s better to be skinny and black in America than Chubby and Asian in America.” I don’t know what Bendis was attempting to do but the statement just seems to raise the issue of race without exploring it. By the time Miles explains that he could remember a woman crossing the street to avoid him when he was nine years old the conversation is interrupted….by a giant goldball landing in Ganke’s lunch. Oh there is the small matter of reveling Miles dual identity to Gold Balls.
The first half of the books serves as a drag on a much more enjoyable second half. The Black Cat, currently the Kingpin of New York Crime, makes good on her threat against Miles and sends Hammerhead after Miles. This is where Pichelli’s art truly shines and saves this issue. More than any other artist who has drawn him thus far Pichelli captures what Spiderman should look like In motion. He action sequence in the last 7 pages makes up for aforementioned stumbles early. This is my least favorite issue of the current run of this book, but seeing how it’s been consistently fantastic, well you can’t win all the time.
Three “twips” out of Five