Miles Morales: Spider-Man #14 Review

by Charles Martin on January 02, 2020

Miles Morales: Spider-Man #14 Review
Writer: Saladin Ahmed
Artists: Ray-Anthony Height, Zé Carlos, Belén Ortega
Colourist: David Curiel
Letterer: Cory Petit
Publisher: Marvel Comics

The next phase of Miles Morales's life opens up with some shiny optimism. He beholds his new sister Billie and decides the world ain't such a bad place. Even if Rio is very interested in teaching him to change diapers.

He makes some Spider-progress in his fight against Ultimatum and the new "Goblin" drug flooding Brooklyn. 

But his attendance at Brooklyn Visions remains dire. He has to reconnect with Ganke. And while Mr. Sumida brings him some good news about his future, he also discovers a horrible new problem: His journal is missing.

That shoe's been waiting to drop since the start of the volume, and dang, it crashes down in a satisfying way.

Saladin Ahmed's script includes another bout of super-heroics in Miles's busy day, featuring a new/old antagonist out of left field. But what really impresses is the writer's sense of acrobatic balance. 

Though this issue uses a theme that's become familiar throughout this volume -- Miles is barely holding together his civilian life while dealing with Spider-challenges -- the author does a remarkable job of maintaining perfect control over the story while constantly keeping Miles on the edge of losing control.

I think what gets the job done is a thorough command of the protagonist's voice combined with an expert sense of pacing. This issue's scenes go on exactly long enough to satisfy, without giving Miles enough time to step back and consider the big picture. 

Miles's reactions are rushed and incomplete. For instance, after he captures some Goblin-dealing goons, he picks up on the fact that they're way too cool about being turned over to the NYPD. One of them even calls them "Fisk's cops."

Miles knows that's bad, but he doesn't have time to do anything about it. And throughout the issue, Mr. Ahmed sticks effortlessly with the realistic, natural voice for his protagonist that he's refined so well.

On the visual front, this issue features an artist carousel, something I usually dread. But my opinions are a-changing after seeing this collaboration. 

What's different about this team-up is clear right from the credits on the title page. The artists' responsibilities are divided up not by page numbers but by setting. And that's a brilliant way to coordinate three good artists.

Ray-Anthony Height gets the Spidey action in the cemetery, Zé Carlos takes the helm at Brooklyn Visions, and Belén Ortega covers the Morales home. 

Each artist has a distinctive style, and that organically translates into differences in the settings. It helps that Miles is the only common thread appearing in all three locations -- and that the script is organized such that Mr. Height's Spidey serves as a buffer between the two unmasked interpretations of Miles.

But the artistic divisions are further smoothed by real collaboration on the comic's structure. All the artists employ similar blocking, laying out their panels in similar scale with a consistent number of facial close-ups throughout the book. It solidifies the feeling -- sometimes lacking in this title -- that I'm reading one story from start to finish.

Colourist David Curiel is an important part of the team, cultivating a separate palette for each artist. He does particularly well distinguishing the home and cemetery scenes from each other. Both feature heavy shadow work, but Mr. Curiel ensures the Morales home is warm and the cemetery is cold. And he throws bright colours and coloured linework onto the Brooklyn Visions scenes, playing up the strong similarities between Mr. Carlos's artwork and Javier Garrón's volume-defining style.

Miles Morales #14 pushes Miles forward into fresh challenges with a notably strong rendition of this title's signature storytelling style. The frantic hopping between Spider-heroics and mundane Morales matters is perfectly paced to frazzle the protagonist without irritating the reader. A brilliantly-organized collaboration between three strong artists melds diverse visuals into a unified whole. This issue makes the best possible use of the volume's fast pace to weave an enthralling Spider-story out of plot points new and old.

Our Score:


A Look Inside


Charles Martin's picture
The title page recap is all about Uncle Aaron, but Miles finds plenty of trouble within the issue without even sparing a thought for the Prowler.