Way back when Miles Morales, the Spider-Man of Marvel’s Ultimate Universe, was first introduced, one of his first major stories was the 2012 event Spider-Men. A five-part story, the original Spider-Men saw Peter Parker, the original web-slinger, get transported to Miles’ world, one where he’s long since dead, and team up with his successor to take down Mysterio and get back to his own timeline. Upon succeeding and returning to Earth-616, Peter searched Miles’ name on the internet and seemed shocked at what he found, but the reader wasn’t given the luxury of seeing what it was at that point, that is until now.
Spider-Men II, Brian Michael Bendis picks up the ball where he left it five years ago to resolve the last loose thread of his 17 year run at Marvel. The original Earth-616 version of Miles Morales is more like his uncle, the Prowler, appearing as a scar-faced former mobster with a long-standing connection to Peter’s longtime nemesis, Wilson Fisk. Bendis takes special care to flesh out this alternate version of Miles; The entire third part of the five-part story is spent on his backstory, how he’s managed to operate for years unknown and why exactly he’s employing the Taskmaster, who acts as the miniseries’ primary antagonist, fighting Miles and Peter at every turn.
The series as a whole isn’t as good as the first time out, and that’s not exactly a knock on it. The original Spider-Men is a nearly cathartic event, with Peter Parker getting to meet the Ultimate Universe’s version of his long-dead love, Gwen Stacy, while she and Aunt May get to reunite with a version of Peter one more time, in a moment that actively makes me tear up every time I read it.
No such moment really exists in Spider-Men II, since it’s so different of a story, which affects the pace a bit. While the original had the benefit of it’s setting and being a bit of a nostalgia trip for both Spidey and the reader, II doesn’t have that bit of safety net. In it’s place, though is the ability to give Miles the lead part here, with the majority of the story centering around the parallels between he and his doppelganger. The final pages create an interesting final implication for the future of Marvel, that may go unexplored in the wake of Bendis’ departure, but time can only tell.
Accompanied by Sara Pichelli’s wonderful-as-always art, Brian Michael Bendis hangs his hat on a high note to end 2017 and his time at Marvel, before the new year begins a new life over in the pages of DC Comics.