Generations: Miles Morales Spider-Man and Peter Parker Spider-Man #1
Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Art by Ramon Perez and Msassyk
Lettering by Cory Petit
Published by Marvel Comics
‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10
It can’t be easy being Brian Michael Bendis - over the course of his 15+ year career at Marvel, the man has written just about every property there is to write at the House of Ideas, and is currently juggling a massive half-dozen comic books to his name this month alone (and that’s not including one-shots). And while Bendis probably has a place in his heart for each of these series, when you read enough of his work, you start to get the sense of which books really spark his talent and his creative interest.
Case in point: Generations: Miles Morales Spider-Man and Peter Parker Spider_Man. In many ways, it’s fitting, given Bendis’s long history with both characters. And even though one could argue that Miles and Peter have already had not one, but two different series that hinged on their meeting, Bendis is able to have his cake and eat for the third time running, as artist Ramon Perez and colorist Msassyk deliver a story that feels quintessentially Spider-Man while also delivering on the character-driven promise of the Generations one-shots.
But what do you do for two heroes that have already met? In Bendis’s case, you go back to the past - and while some readers might cry foul that Ms. Marvel and Captain Marvel did this exact same thing a week ago, I might make the counterargument that this quiet, street-level story has Spider-Man written all over it. Unlike the other Generations comic books, there’s not a single punch thrown - in fact, beyond a couple of bumps in the hallway, a panel or two of web-slinging, and a Peter Parker angst session against the table in his apartment, there’s no action of any kind.
For a lot of comic books, that would be the kiss of death - but for Bendis, this is a love letter to both Spider-Men, and one I might argue is more heartfelt and satisfying than either of the previous Spider-Men series before it. For Miles Morales, this is a chance to see his inspiration as human, for all his frailties and razor-thin wins - and for college-aged Peter Parker, this is the briefest of respites from a life already defined by chaos, seeing a light of hope at the end of the tunnel after narrowly surviving the iconic wreckage scene from Amazing Spider-Man #33. Some might argue that Bendis is playing off continuity as sort of an emotional sleight-of-hand - but ultimately, continuity is exactly what Generations is about. It’s about the modern Marvel era paying tribute to the characters and moments that have built their foundation - and in that regard, Bendis has the perfect voice to capture this quiet but ultimately important meeting.
But I would probably be singing a very different tune if Ramon Perez wasn’t in the building. Perez is such a beast of a talent, and why he isn’t the next Olivier Coipel, Jim Cheung, or Chris Samnee right now is just beyond me. His artwork is so fluid and expressive, and the Steve Ditko-inspired last page of the book is about as beautiful of an image as I’ve seen in the Spider-Man series in some time. Perez brings such a great sense of humor to this book, as well - he knows deep in his bones that Spider-Man is almost the Jerry Seinfeld of superheroes, the observational comic that makes light out of all the slings and arrows that life throws against him. But he also knows that Spider-Man has a depressive streak as long as the blue lines on his costume, and so watching Peter have a well-deserved cry after learning Aunt May is safe is a very cathartic moment to watch, particularly through the eyes of Miles.
That’s not to say that this book is perfect, by any means. Miles kind of gets the short end of the story stick for this book - it’s cute seeing young Miles meet young Ganke for the first time, but the scene outlasts its welcome, with Miles’ own mother shooing off this teenager who is loitering around a bunch of small children way too long for his own good. Additionally, the decompression of Bendis’s pacing is somewhat apparent - there isn’t a ton of story that goes on here, but instead, this book feels more impressionistic, where Bendis uses every inch of page space to create mood rather than plot progression. But thankfully, he’s teamed up with an artist who is so talented that he’s able to turn this painterly script into a work of art, making Generations: Miles Morales and Peter Parker definitely a book to watch.