You know you’re getting old when little things that you thought would never change, suddenly change. I grew up with Peter Parker as Spider-Man, but there’s a new Spider-Man on the block and it’s Miles Morales, a teenager who is half African-American and half Puerto Rican.
Although it isn’t explained, I get the sense that this is not a second Spider-Man, but that this is the Spider-Man in a rebooted universe. There are some similarities between Parker and Morales – teen, bright, radio-active spider bite, etc. – but the background heritage of Morales provides for some very different insight into being a superhero from the very white Peter Parker.
Morales, and his best friend Ganke (who knows about Morales’ spidey powers), are feeling the pressure from a pretty nasty teacher by the name of Chamberlain. Chamberlain almost goes overboard in his taking his top students down a notch or two. Almost. But Miles’ spidey sense gets a little weird when he’s around Chamberlain and he (Morales) has been having some very strange dreams and he finally decides to investigate things a little more.
On the non-superhero side of the story, Miles learns that he has a cousin he never knew about. His uncle Aaron and his father were estranged, due to Aaron’s shady past, but Miles had a close relationship with his uncle (despite his father’s warnings to stay clear of him). When Miles and his father both receive letters from a teen in jail, claiming to be Aaron’s son, they are taken by surprise.
This was a really interesting book. It definitely has a bit of a darker tone than what I would expect in a story for middle-schoolers, but I really appreciated this ‘minority’ teen look at how to deal with super powers as well as school. The plot doesn’t show up until half way through the book, though a sub-plot, dealing with typical teen issues (boy-likes-girl) is set up early and the sub-plot does flow into the plot.
There was a lot that I liked about this book, mostly dealing with a minority teen having unique powers. The story itself was a little dull, though I recognized that much of it might appeal to a young student.
But mostly I spent much of the book wondering what the heck was going on and whatever happened to Peter Parker. Perhaps the young reader wouldn’t be so attached to an older character, or perhaps those picking up this book already know about this reboot, but given the popularity of the Spiderman movies (with Parker as Spiderman) it would seem to me that some sort of explanation of how/why this new name, new character would be in order. I had to check in with a friend who’s a long-time comic reader to get the scoop on what this was all about.
And I was not a fan at all of Morales’ best friend Ganke. He came across as selfish and whiny and I couldn’t wait to get away from him any time he appeared in the book.
Looking for a good book? Miles Morales: Spider-Man by Jason Reynolds is a new take on the Spider-Man superhero character, targeted toward middle school students but older readers may be confused by the change.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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author: Jason Reynolds
publisher: Marvel Press
hardcover, 272 pages