Miles Morales is just getting used to being the new Spider-Man, after being bit by one of the same genetically modified spiders that caused his late predecessor. Miles has also found out that his father and his Uncle Aaron used to run on the wrong side of the law together, something that his father has turned away from whereas Aaron has only gotten deeper and deeper, taking on the identity of The Prowler (unbeknownst to Miles). Aaron has found out Miles' secret and is increasingly intimidating the youngster into aiding him.
Meanwhile, a Mexican drug runner calling himself The Scorpion has traveled to New York in search of The Prowler, who double-crossed him on a deal, but instead has now set his sights on slightly more grandiose plans; to become Kingpin of the city.
And when we last left our hero, he had just defeated the semi-joke that is The Ringer. Just when it seems the NYPD are going to arrest Miles however, a police officer by the name of Captain Quaid, who has shown an increasing interest in the new web-swinger's exploits, calls his colleagues off...
Spider-Man is still ensnared by the Ringer's toys as a very clearly interested Captain Quiad begins questioning him. In quite an amusing 21st Century spin on the unmasking gimmick, Quaid explains that he couldn't unmask Spidey even if he wanted to; he'd get sued for violating his civil rights. Quaid, however, quickly realizes that the Spider-Man he is dealing with now is different than the one New York saw die a few months back and is quite clearly significantly younger than his predecessor. Miles at least retains some of Peter's quick-witted, if slightly more naive, responses to this most unusual questioning. Quaid, simultaneously dreading having another vigilante stalking "his neck of the woods" yet quite clearly curious as to his intentions, tells Spidey to leave; "it's a school night". Seemingly on demand, Spider-Man throws off the rings that had for the previous four pages appeared so unbreakable, and swings off into the night. Quaid remains unconvinced.
Meanwhile, we switch our gaze to The Tinkerer's Warehouse out on the waterfront where The Prowler, after killing it's resident last issue, sneaks back in. He instead finds The Scorpion waiting for him, as eager as ever for revenge (and still wearing that same white muscle top). Ol' Uncle Aaron, however, is not the pushover that mine would be in a fight with a crazed drug mule and proceeds to electrocute nearly everyone in the room, revealing that he had found all the gadgets the Tinkerer "had been holding back on". The Scorpion, hardly weakened, begins tearing the room to shreds with his slightly more low-tech hook-on-the-end-of-a-chain. And in an inexplicably quick costume change, The Prowler steps out of the ruins with a version of the old Vulture's wings. Prowler kills all of Scorpion's thugs with the razor blade feathers, but The Scorpion merely shrugs them off. Quickly realizing that this guy is no ordinary criminal (by my count he easily took 21 razor blades, one of which appears to have pierced his brain...), The Prowler makes a hurried escape. As he dashes away, we see quite clearly in his eyes he is terrified of what he has stumbled into.
Enough of the criminal underworld for now, however, as we get back to The Brooklyn Vision Academy, where it is lights-out. Miles, however, is missing. Ganke makes the lame excuse that Miles is in the bathroom, to the obvious suspicion of their third roommate Judge, and the teacher goes to inspect. Shockingly, Miles isn't there. Upon returning to the room, the teacher conveniently finds Miles back safe and sound and in his pajamas. Clearly suspicious, the teacher says that if he turns up late one more time, he'll "call his parents". It's almost as if having a secret identity in a tightly regulated boarding school is going to be a difficult thing to pull off. For now at least, everyone retires to bed. That is until Miles receives a text from Uncle Aaron, telling him to meet him on the rooftop in one hour. "You take care of one thing for me...and I'll leave you alone forever".
Although everything Brian Michael Bendis introduces this issue is fairly interesting, at the end of it all it does leave the feeling of...is that it? I know that Bendis has become the epitome of modern 'decompressed' storytelling designed for the trade paperback market, but I was genuinely surprised upon seeing the 'next issue' page crop up so soon and if I were buying this individually on a month-to-month basis would feel quite ripped off at the barebones approach taken. Essentially what we have in this issue is three scenes; Captain Quaid speaking to Spider-Man (which, for reasons unknown to me, is told through three splash pages), The Prowler and The Scorpion fighting and then Miles sneaking home. Hmm.
The Captain Quaid scenes are interesting, if only for the unique and slightly humurous takes on the relationship between super-heroes and the police in our modern society of political correctness and desk-bound police officers, and we may be seeing the beginning of quite an interesting supporting character.
The Scorpion/Prowler scene doesn't add much that we didn't know already; it was quite clear that The Scorpion wasn't merely a drug runner last issue, although I suppose the fight between the two was nicely done and The Prowler being visibly afraid at the end was a nice touch. The Scorpion will surely prove quite a match for the still naive Miles, whenever Bendis decides to finally put them together.
And far more time is given to Miles sneaking back than is really necessary. Unless Bendis is going somewhere particularly interesting with Judge's suspicions of Miles, then it was all really a build-up to Miles receiving that foreboding text at the end of the issue. It shall be very interesting seeing the interplay between Miles and what is now an afraid and visibly intimidating Uncle Aaron, but we'll just have to wait another month for that.
Don't get me wrong, Bendis litters this issues with nice touches that fleshes out Miles' ever-developing world and it's cast of characters, but we get the feeling that Bendis is very much treading water until some of the action really begins next issue. Perhaps I've been reading too many 70's comics recently, before the introduction of this phenomenon of decompression, but there doesn't feel like much legitimate substance to this month's offerings. I do, however, like that this series is moving away from segregated 'Part x of y' story arcs that signpost the flow of the story straight away, instead allowing for more free-flowing (yet still very lengthy) story arcs.
Although we have another new artist this issue, there can be no complaints about the quality. It is absolutely fantastic work from Mr. Marquez; clean, crisp artwork with a very clear understanding of dynamic viewpoints that give the fight scenes in particular a fluidity and pace that really adds to proceedings. His work on the shadows of The Tinkerer's warehouse also show a nice contrast between the underworld and the slightly more innocent Brooklyn Academy. He retains enough of the stylistic touches of Sara Pichelli to make the transition relatively seamless and hopefully he'll get a nice, long run on the title.
What we have is good enough, I suppose, I'm just not sure it's enough for a month's worth of comic. Still, Bendis and co. have set up enough of an interesting premise to ensure that next issue will surely be something a bit more substantial.