I was really looking forward to this book when it was first announced, because I’m a huge Miles Morales fan and Jason Reynolds is high on my “want to read” list. Not to mention that this would be the first story featuring Miles written by a black author.
For those unfamiliar with Miles: originally from the Ultimate universe, Miles is a black/Puerto Rican American teen who became Spider-Man after Peter Parker’s death. His comics were the only Ultimate universe comics I read, and after the Secret Wars event he was “moved” to the main Marvel universe. By the way: Aaron Davis, the character played by Donald Glover in Spider-Man: Homecoming, is Miles’ uncle!
In this book, all is not well with Miles. His spidey-sense seems to be on overload, especially during history class. He gets into misunderstandings that lead to a suspension, and his scholarship was being threatened. It doesn’t help that his teacher Mr. Chamberlain seems to be targeting him and trying to get him expelled. Most of the book seemed to focus on Miles’ personal problems, be it with his family, school, or his current crush (Alicia) with a lot of not-at-all subtle commentary on systemic racism. I liked the part where it focuses more on Miles and less on random punching-of-villains, and I liked that unlike the comics it dug deeper on what it meant to be a superhero who also happens to be black/Latino. I do wish that the writing was more subtle, though, and that the villain hadn’t been so obvious. In the end, making Mr. Chamberlain’s white supremacism part of a wider cult/brain-washing thing oversimplifies a complex and serious problem, and it made me wish that in real life there’s just one Big Bad to fight and end it all with.
Verdict: I find this a pretty fun read, but I wish that it was more subtle and complex than it ended up being – again, I guess I was hoping for a novel version of Ms. Marvel, instead? (And where is our Ms. Marvel novel anyway?)