Our beloved Spider-Teen, Miles Morales, is in a strange place right now when it comes to comics. We’re in the first post-Bendis era of his existence and he’s without an ongoing title. This Spider-Man Annual #1 is a good sign of life for Miles fans.
***SPOILERS LIE AHEAD***
Our story is split into a current day tale and a flashback of Miles during the events of Secret Invasion before his web-slinging debut. Miles may have officially become the hardest character to explain the origin story of after his permanent inclusion in the 616 universe.
If he was around in this world for the Skrull invasion, does his Ultimate universe origin no longer apply? Are we now rewriting every bit of Morales history before Secret Wars? If we are, that’s extremely frustrating given that all of his best Spider-Man stories took place within the pages of Ultimate Spider-Man.
This is most likely what’s keeping us from getting a full-blown Miles series, it’s probably not an easy fix to pitch. It’s frustrating but in order to enjoy this Spider-Man Annual issue, you’re going to have to put all those questions aside and just enjoy the ride.
Bryan Edward Hill takes on the task of writing Miles in a post-Bendis world. Universal-canon questions aside, he crafts a tight little story about Miles’ tragic birthday. This feels more like the Ultimate Spider-Man stories of old rather than the more recent water-treading 616 tales.
The spirit of Spider-Man comics is present in that this hidden tragedy showcases a sense of responsibility that Morales carries with him carrying the weight of guilt he feels about an incident he feels he could’ve prevented. Hill pulls this story off by sprinkling in hints of what makes Spidey our favorite web-slinger, but still keeping this very much a Miles Morales story rather than a remix of Peter Parker.
Artists Nelson Blake II, Alitha E. Martinez, Mark Bagley, and inker Roberto Poggi provide smooth transitions between time-jumps. Blake and Martinez do a great job making the flashback scenes actually look like the art we saw in Secret Invasion tie-ins way back when. They also deliver a creative spin on the Miles Morales version of the homemade Spidey suit.
Colorist Carlos Lopez keeps things simple and lively, making this feel even more like a Spider-Man comic of old. The contrast between Skrull-Spidey and the purple sky backdrop makes for some wonderful panels. Letterer Cory Petit subtly accents and emphasizes emotional beats, lightening the load of our art teams.
Writer Emily Ryan Lerner, artist Alberto Alburquerque, colorist Carlos Lopez, and letterer Cory Petit (again) provide the short backup story. It’s a cute quickie about Miles and Ganke during a driving school incident.
Spider-Man Annual #1 raises more Miles Morales continuity questions, but we aren’t going to hold that against the creative team. If you can close your mind off to question marks and just enjoy what’s in your hands, this is a great contained story that showcases what makes Miles and Peter both similar and different.