“This Damn World is Broken Down to its Center” (Spider-Man Annual #1 Comic Review)

Spider-Man Annual #1 Comic Review

“Youngblood” Writer: Bryan Edward Hill

“Youngblood” Artist: Nelson Blake II with Alitha E. Martinez and Mark Bagley

“Youngblood” Inker: Roberto Poggi

“Youngblood” Colorist: Carlos Lopez

“Youngblood” Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit

Cover: Kris Anka

Variant Cover: Ryan Benjamin

“Right of Way” Writer: Emily Ray Lerner

“Right of Way” Artist: Alberto Alburquerque

“Right of Way” Colorist: Carlos Lopez

“Right of Way” Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit

“This Damn World is Broken Down to its Center”

What You Need to Know

It seems like a chapter is closing for Miles Morales, and a new beginning is on the horizon. This annual issue takes us back to the beginning of Miles Morales’ adventures as Spider-Man, while providing context regarding his motivation for continuing on as a hero. This Spider-Man was also born out of tragedy, and like Peter Parker, he still remains hopeful.

What Just Happened

This issue begins with Miles battling Morbius, while lamenting on the fact the world is not a good place to be a hero. The issue flashes back years ago to a scene where Miles is eating with his Uncle Aaron. Uncle Aaron lectures Miles on knowing that he is not like the other kids at his school and he should be wary of thinking he can be like them. Uncle Aaron realizes Miles just had a birthday and gives him $500 while lecturing him about how that money is chump change to his peers. Uncle Aaron tells Miles to be selfish and look out for himself because no one else will.

Next we catch up with Miles at school, where we realize that this flashback takes place during the Secret Invasion event. Ganke believes Miles can do just as much heroic things as someone like Iron Man can. Miles and Ganke’s classmate Brent invites them to a clothing brand’s pop-up shop that evening, if Miles will entertain his sister. The group agrees to go to the event.

While at the pop-up shop, Miles and Ganke meet up with Brent and his sister Olivia. While Olivia and Miles get to know each other and try on clothes, a spaceship crashes through the store. A skrull posing as a cop enters the store, and Ganke fears for his life. Miles, using some of the clothing in the store as a makeshift costume, attacks the skrull while Ganke gets Brent and Olivia out of harms way. Miles defeats the cop-skrull and Spider-Man shows up to survey the scene. With Miles star struck, Spider-Man reveals himself to be a skrull and attacks him. The spider-skrull initially defeats Miles, leaving him doubting himself as a hero. Miles happens to look up and see Thor destroying a skrull spaceship, inspiring him to fight back and defeat the spider-skrull. Unfortunately, Brent died because of his injuries he received in the spaceship crash. Miles attends Brent’s funeral and feels at fault for his death. Miles then visits his Uncle Aaron and gives him money back, telling him that he accept the money due to the nature of how his uncle got it in the first place.

In the present, Miles defeats Morbius, and vows to never give up hope. The issue ends with a back-up story involving Miles and Ganke taking driver’s education classes. While Ganke is taking his behind the wheel lessons, the group is almost ran off the road by Overdrive, who has stolen a semi-truck full of Stark Tech. Miles has Ganke chase the truck and is able to stop Overdrive from getting away.

My Thoughts

As far as annual issues go, this one was actually enjoyable. While the battle with Morbius amounted to nothing but a throwaway plot for me, the real story I enjoyed was the flashback to one of Miles’ first adventures as Spider-Man. I particularly enjoyed the talk he had with his Uncle Aaron. Bryan Edward Hill characterizes Uncle Aaron as a Black man jaded by the state of the world. Uncle Aaron uses that cynicism to justify his life of crime. Uncle Aaron however, gives Miles some interesting advice regarding his experience at an elite private school. Some would say that the advice Miles receives is very accurate and important. I felt it was strange to set Miles’ initial appearance in the 616 universe during Secret Invasion, but I appreciated Miles using his resourcefulness to put together a costume made out of overpriced clothes that hypebeasts probably lined up overnight for. That ensuing battle with the skrulls was passable as far as entertainment goes, but the important moment was Miles learning his friend died in the ensuing battle. It seems like Brent’s death is possibly characterized as Miles’ “Uncle Ben” moment. I did not feel that emotional connection to Brent, but I did appreciate Miles going through the emotions of hopelessness, resilience, and despair during the battle. Miles seems to have had carry that experience with him to the present and uses it to fuel him as he strives to be a better hero.

The back-up issue is a fun story that is not to be taken seriously. It seems like the editors decided since it was an annual issue, which another story needed to be added on. I could have gone without it but it’s not a terrible read. The art in this story is strong, and one can’t go wrong with Mark Bagley art. Bagley is a legendary Spider-Man artist. Nelson Blake II and Alitha E. Martinez did a great job this issue as well. Their contributions remind of the Ultimate Comics run where Miles was originally introduced. The back-up story features art by Alberto Alburquerque that matches the silly tone of Emily Ryan Lerner’s story.

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Marcus Freeman

Marcus Freeman

Bay Area bred, LA livin Blerd. Avid fan of comics, video games, music, wrestling, the Lakers, and the 49ers. Constantly catching up on DVR’d TV shows. Spends a little too much money at movie theaters. Also passionate about serving my community and providing the youth with tools for success.
Summary
This annual issue feels like a celebration of Miles Morales’ time in the main 616 universe. I hope this character is not put on the shelf due to The Amazing Spider-Man being relaunched. This issue took us to Miles’ past to show us where he is headed in the future. With Spider-Geddon on the horizon, I’m hopeful we have not seen the end of Mr. Morales.
Good
  • The conversation between Uncle Aaron and Miles
  • Strong art
  • Makeshift costume
Bad
  • Miles has been around since Secret Invasion? How?
  • Morbius is only in the issue so Miles has someone to punch
  • I was not emotionally invested in Brent
8.2
Great
Story - 7.5
Art - 9
Character Development - 8
Written by
Bay Area bred, LA livin Blerd. Avid fan of comics, video games, music, wrestling, the Lakers, and the 49ers. Constantly catching up on DVR’d TV shows. Spends a little too much money at movie theaters. Also passionate about serving my community and providing the youth with tools for success.

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