Spider-Man #19
SPIDER-MAN #19 BY BRIAN MICHAEL BENDIS, OSCAR BAZALDUA, AND JASON KEITH
Story
Art
Characterization
Summary
In SPIDER-MAN #19, writer Brian Michael Bendis includes no drawn out action scenes. Instead, he intensely focuses on the book's characters. In doing so, he adds some incredibly interesting ideas about Miles Morales' place in the Spider-Man legacy.
89 %
No action? No problem

No one throws a punch in SPIDER-MAN #19. In fact, the only action scene in the issue shows up in a one-and-a-half-page dream sequence. However, multiple plot points are either created or expanded upon in this issue, making it an essential part of the SPIDER-MAN series. As evidenced by his work on the ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN series, writer Brian Michael Bendis is no stranger to these slow, character-focused comics. SPIDER-MAN #19 is a perfect addition to the still-growing list of these issues. Bendis spends nearly an entire issue showing Miles Morales just having a day-long conversation with his best friend, Ganke Lee. This issue serves as an exemplary way for the reader to catch their breath in between long story arcs, while still providing some vital development for just about every main or secondary character.

Super-Ganke

In the prior story arc, Miles ended up in the hospital after Hammerhead pummeled him. While visiting Miles, Ganke drifted off to sleep. SPIDER-MAN #19 begins with Ganke’s dream. In it, he calls himself the Avenging Avenger and flies through the city stopping criminals. This dream speaks volumes about Ganke’s character. He’s surrounded by superheroes. His best friend and roommate is Spider-Man, and his other roommate is the former X-Man named Goldballs. He seems to live vicariously through Miles, constantly asking about his heroic escapades in great detail. This dream shows that Ganke wants desperately to be a superhero like his friends. Going by this dream, it seems like Ganke’s more interested in fame and adoration than great responsibility.

Ganke wakes up and receives a text from his friend and fellow Spider-Man super-fan, Danika Hart. Ganke and Danika became fast friends after he told her about his secret life as Spidey’s best friend and confidante. Judging by their text string, it looks like Ganke may have found love.

SPIDER-MAN #19
Image from SPIDER-MAN #19, courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

Bendis uses Ganke’s texts as a great visual-storytelling device. The entire page is surrounded by texts, while the center of the page contains Ganke’s visual reactions. It’s hard for an older writer to pull off dialogue between two teenagers, especially over text message. Bendis proves that he can still write convincing teenage characters in SPIDER-MAN #19. The text string feels like something two teens would write, which is no small feat. In addition to Bendis’ writing, Oscar Bazaldua’s pencils adroitly show Ganke’s awestruck demeanor. He has a big ol’ grin on whenever he texts Danika. Even if the texts weren’t there, his mood is perfectly conveyed by the artwork.

READ: Find out more about Miles Morales with this analysis of his legacy as Spider-Man!

To be or Not to be Spider-Man

While his body aches from the Hammerhead fight, Miles reminisces with Ganke about their pre-Spidey life. He misses just hanging out with Ganke and going to the movies without having to take off when he hears an explosion. Ganke, being the great friend that he is, gives Miles encouragement and tells him he’s on the right track. Miles, however, stays skeptical. Ganke, sensing this, makes a bold suggestion.

He tells Miles that he should stop being Spider-Man. Now, this may sound like a familiar conversation if you read ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN. Peter discussed this with Mary Jane many times. Miles even quit being Spider-Man for one entire year in his original run. Ganke, however, makes a different point. He doesn’t tell Miles to stop because it would improve his social life. It goes deeper. Bendis creates a very interesting argument when Ganke tells Miles that he’s essentially a Spider-Man cover band. Basically, Ganke says that he should be more than just another Spider-Man, he should be his own hero.

SPIDER-MAN #19
Image from SPIDER-MAN #19, courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

This idea doesn’t come up very often in comics. There aren’t usually two heroes taking up the same mantle. This happened with Steve Rogers and Sam Wilson before SECRET EMPIRE, but Sam seemed to feel almost guilty taking the name Captain America while Rogers still operated with the same name. Miles never looked at his legacy this way though. He never saw himself as a Spider-Man knockoff. He just tried to live up to his universe’s Peter Parker’s legacy after he died. Ganke, however, implies that, maybe, Miles never needed to live up to that legacy. Where will this lead Miles?

READ: Spoiler Alert! Here are some theories about the future of the SPIDER-MAN movie franchise!

Should Miles be Spider-Man?

Ganke brings up a thought provoking point. In my opinion, Miles should come up with a different identity, at least for now. Currently, Miles constantly lives under the shadow of a still living superhero. Back in the Ultimate Universe, Miles’ mantle made sense because he was living up to the deceased Peter’s legacy. He was memorializing Peter by picking up where he left off. In the main Marvel Universe, this doesn’t quite work. Peter is still alive and operating as Spider-Man. Until Peter either dies or gives up on being Spider-Man again, Miles should change his secret identity. That way, he can still be responsible with his powers while also becoming his own hero.

SPIDER-MAN #19 – Low on Action, High on Characterization

If you’re looking for a fun, light-hearted book where Spider-Man beats up some crooks, you may not want to pick up SPIDER-MAN #19. However, if you’re invested in the character of Miles Morales, pick this book up. It would also be a great comic for fans of SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING, especially if they loved the character, Ned Leeds, since this issue focuses partly on his comic book counterpart, Ganke.

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