Pull List: Captain Marvel and Miles Morales: Spider-Man Get Back to Basics

Given the fervent adoration (rightly) bestowed on Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse at the tail end of 2018 and the growing anticipation for the MCU’s latest entry, Captain Marvel, it seems fitting to start my first Pull List of the year covering their newest comics. Miles Morales and Carol Danvers both got well-earned recent relaunches, but are they worth reading? I think you already know the answer to that…

 

Captain Marvel

Carol Danvers is back from space (and dealing with the threats against her family members) and hoping to go back to the way things were pre-Civil War II. Except things have changed in her time away. Bestie Jess and beau Rhodey are eager to give their relationships with Carol another shot, but the Avengers are on thin ice with the public. And then there’s the feisty Hazmat as her new trainee. As Carol navigates the world and life she left behind, a back catalogue villain with a misogynist streak a mile wide lures Captain Marvel to an alternate dystopian reality.

As an unabashed fan of both Carol Danvers and Kelly Thompson, wild horses couldn’t keep me from getting my grabby hands on the new Captain Marvel. My devotion was rewarded. Captain Marvel is, well, a marvel. It’s funny and quick witted, an engaging blend of action-adventure and charming sincerity. What Civil War II did to Carol – killing off Rhodey and severing her from her BFF Jessica Drew – broke my heart so badly that I have more or less avoided her ever since. There’s a very short list of writers that could tempt me back, writers who I know could give Carol the dialogue and story she deserves without sacrificing what makes her so marvelous, and Thompson is at the top of that list.

Carmen Carnero and Tamra Bonvillain pair so well together as artist and colorist that it’s hard to review them separately. The art is all harmony, with pitch perfect illustrations working in tandem with pitch perfect tones and textures. Thompson tends to go all out with her scripts, so there’s always a lot going on in any given panel. It takes a strong team of artists to manage all that without it feeling overwhelming, and Bonvillain and Carnero are it. For the last two years running, Multiversity Comics has named Clayton Cowles best letterer of the year, and it’s easy to see why with his work here. His subtle, impactful, and consistently excellent lettering all but ensures any comic he works on will be easy to read and emotionally rich.

Perfectly timed to attract both longtime readers and newbies enticed by the upcoming movie, the first issue of Captain Marvel does a solid job catching everyone up and welcoming fans of every stripe into the Carol Corps. It may be too early to declare this my favorite new series of 2019, but it’s going to be tough to beat.

Writer: Kelly Thompson; art: Carmen Carnero; color art: Tamra Bonvillain; letters: Clayton Cowles; editor: Sarah Brunstad. Marvel released the first issue of this new ongoing series on January 9, 2019.

 

Miles Morales: Spider-Man

It isn’t easy being a teenage superhero. High school, homework, family, and friends don’t tend to mix well with saving the city every night, but so far Miles is managing…barely. When he encounters Rhino, an old school Spider-Man villain with a new lease on life, at the scene of a robbery led by mind-controlled children in supersuits, Miles isn’t sure what to make of the situation. Things take a turn for the worse when one of those kids turns out to be the missing relative of his maybe-kinda-sorta girlfriend.

You should already know what a talented comics writer Saladin Ahmed is. With a comics bibliography including Black Bolt, Exiles, Quicksilver: No Surrender, and of course Abbott (which made my Best Comics of 2018 list), Ahmed has more than demonstrated his versatility and skill within the medium. I’m happy to note that Miles Morales: Spider-Man is no different. This story is a little more intense and serious than Captain Marvel, but still maintains Miles’ goofy, playful attitude. Ahmed grounds the action in real world parallels to remind us that the responsibility Miles as a Black and Puerto Rican kid feels about using his powers is different from Peter Parker’s privileged perspective.

Art-wise, Javier Garrón absolutely nails it. Spider-Man twists and leaps with ease, and the backgrounds are detailed and expansive. Although Miles looks more like a twentysomething actor playing a teen role than an actual teenager, it’s not terribly distracting. David Curiel’s coloring bursts off the page. There’s a depth and vibrancy to his work. Between the two of them, they’ve created a crowded, busy New York that feels lived in and real. But it’s Cory Petit who is the real unsung hero here, what with the surprisingly effective use of torn lined paper for caption boxes with a font that looks like handwriting (evoking Miles’ journal).

It’s been a hot minute since I last read a Miles Morales comic, but it’s been weeks and I’m still reeling from Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and the new comic series was too tempting to pass up. I definitely made the right choice to pick it up. Miles Morales: Spider-Man is all high notes, clever introductions, and subversive storytelling. This ain’t your grandpappy’s Spider-Man.

Writer: Saladin Ahmed; art: Javier Garrón; color art: David Curiel; letters: Cory Petit; editor: Nick Lowe. Marvel released the first issue of this new ongoing series on December 12, 2018.

Alex Brown is a high school librarian by day, local historian by night, author and writer by passion, and an ace/aro Black woman all the time. Keep up with her every move on Twitter and Insta, or follow along with her reading adventures on her blog.

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