Review by Ian Keogh
Not counting crossover stories in which Spider-Man is one of a dozen superheroes, this is Brian Michael Bendis’ sixth collection of Miles Morales Spider-Man material, and the first where the standards drop. Revival is still good superhero comics, but it isn’t the insanely enjoyable thrill ride that the adventures of Miles Morales have been.
Between volume five of Miles Morales’ earlier Ultimate Spider-Man series and Revival there was Cataclysm, and during those events Miles told his father of his new identity, at which point Jefferson Morales disappeared. In the real world some people disown their children for revealing sexual orientation or for other bigoted reasons, but while Brian Michael Bendis has established Jefferson as strongly disliking superheroes, he’s also reinforced him as a loving family man. The reasons for his anger aren’t consistent with the personality as previously established, and that’s an event hanging over the entire story because Miles isn’t the only person with parent issues when revelations and trust are themes.
For the remainder Bendis continues to mine the first few years of Spider-Man comics for his ideas, and because he’s twisted them imaginatively has resulted in a succession of gems. This time, though, he’s hung them around superhero standby events that he’d usually reject as too obvious, repeated stock situations he’s already used, and let himself run away with the crosscutting dialogue. Extending scenes just for the sake of the dialogue is never a great stylistic device in superhero comics.
David Marquez is thankfully still on hand to make sure everything looks fantastic. Why’s he not more highly appreciated? He’s an artist equally at home with superhero action scenes and the emotional sequences in normal clothes that define a person. Beyond that he has a consistently interesting sense of composition, giving viewpoints to the scenes that few others would. His work ensures that at first there’s no realisation that standards have slipped overall.
Series co-creator Sara Pichelli, artists of both previous Ultimate Spider-Man series Mark Bagley and David Lafuente, and Mark Brooks all contribute pages to the opening story. It has Miles and Ganke attending a wake for Peter Parker, the type of story that Bendis has written so well for Ultimate Spider-Man, where a bunch of people we like discuss something of importance to them. Here, however, it falls flat as Bendis swings the balance too far in favour of slick dialogue and awkward pauses and doesn’t concentrate enough on the sentimentality the plot requires, with the eulogies too obvious. It’s an indication of what follows.
Bendis has planned a story over twelve chapters, and the conclusion to Revival is found in Revelations, or alternatively they’re combined as Miles Morales: The Ultimate Spider-Man Book Three, which also features Miles’ participation in Cataclysm. Miles Morales: The Ultimate Spider-Man Omnibus combines the first eight Miles Morales trades.