SPIDER-MAN #239 has a lot to like. It has a great callback cameo, it has a great character moment for Miles, and it has some great color work by Brian Reber. However, it doesn't feel like the second-to-last issue of a huge, years long epic. I really hope Bendis and Co. prove me wrong next issue.
88 %
Exciting but Disappointing

This is it. The penultimate issue of Brian Michael Bendis’ Miles Morales saga. SPIDER-MAN #239 adds more action and drama to the mix, but I still don’t feel the building momentum towards a big finale. It still just feels like a regular arc of SPIDER-MAN.

However, I must commend Bendis for his slavish devotion to the continuity among all his books. He’s been doing this since he started at Marvel, but it’s become even more ever-present in the post-SECRET WARS era. He adds would-be Latverian despot Lucia Von Bardas to the mix, and her connection to the story actually makes perfect sense, especially for readers of his IRON MAN books. He also adds an almost touching scene with Miles and Uncle Aaron which I hope leads to something next issue. Plus, I want to give props to color artist Brian Reber for a particular sequence.

Read on to find out what we thought of SPIDER-MAN #239!

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The Helicarrier Lands in SPIDER-MAN #239

Last issue, Miles tried to foil Aaron’s helicarrier heist. He failed and the bad guys got away, seemingly disappearing into thin air. In SPIDER-MAN #239, Miles goes back to his uncle’s apartment to snoop for clues. He reminisces about his younger days hanging out with Aaron, which leads to a clue. After finding Aaron’s burner phone, he discovers the helicarrier’s destination: Latveria. When Aaron’s Sinister Seven crew lands in Latveria, they encounter its mysterious buyer: Lucia Von Bardas.

For those who haven’t been reading Bendis’ other titles, Von Bardas hoped to become Latveria’s monarch again after she took the crown in Bendis’ SECRET WAR (2005) event. She eventually won the throne back after Victor Von Doom turned good, but Riri Williams helped depose her and remanded her to S.H.I.E.L.D. and UN custody. After the breakup of S.H.I.E.L.D., Von Bardas returned to Latveria.

SPIDER-MAN #239 page 2. Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

I really like Bendis’ adherence to his own continuity with the Latverian reveal. Instead of throwing in a random villain right before the end of his run, he brought it all back to a character he’s written multiple times in his career. It almost feels like a celebration of Bendis characters as Lucia meets with Aaron.

Sure, some may see this as a little self-indulgent, tying this in to a separate Marvel book he wrote. However, I think we can cut Bendis a little slack. It’s his last Marvel book, possibly forever. Let him have a little fun. Plus, the reveal just naturally works for people who have been reading both IRON MAN books. Von Bardas would be the perfect buyer because owning a helicarrier works into her plans to rule Latveria with no outside interference. I’d say this cameo works.

Miles and Aaron in SPIDER-MAN #238

After they deliver the helicarrier to Von Bardas, the Seven are blindsided by Miles and his backup, the Champions. While each Champion fights members of the Seven and Von Bardas, Miles takes on Aaron. This leads to a great little scene. While they fight, Aaron accuses Miles of being an idiot for chasing him again; Aaron finds his nephew’s actions fruitless.

However, Miles says a few lines of dialogue that really mark growth in his character. He tells Aaron that he’s there because he’s the only person who sees good in him. Everyone else, including Miles’ parents, write Aaron off as an irredeemable waste. Miles knows that there’s some good in his uncle. He saw his good side come out when he used to spend time with him as a child.

On top of this, Miles feels incredible remorse for what he did back in the Ultimate Universe. He gave in to everyone else’s judgement and, in a fit of rage, accidentally killed Aaron. With those lines of dialogue, Miles proves that he wants to undo that mistake by trying to redeem Aaron. I hope this leads to a satisfying conclusion next issue.

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Where’s the Momentum?

While, overall, I enjoyed this issue, I did have a pretty big problem. This doesn’t feel like the penultimate chapter in a huge, 7-year epic. Instead, it just feels like another chapter in a regular story arc. Bendis has been toying around with a lot of interesting ideas during this particular run of SPIDER-MAN. He brought up the idea of Miles taking on a mantle that isn’t directly inspired by Peter Parker. He also brought in Cable a few issues ago as a last page tease.

These plot threads haven’t really been brought up since at least a few issues ago. This, I imagine, will lead to something next issue, but I’m now worried that that issue will be filled with too much. I feel like this arc has spent too much time on the Sinister Seven and not enough on Miles himself. He almost feels like a secondary character in his own book, with Aaron taking the reins.

I hope that there’s a satisfying conclusion next issue, because I’m not feeling any momentum towards it.

Brian Reber’s Flashback Work in SPIDER-MAN #239

One small touch I liked about Brian Reber’s color work this issue is the drastic change between Miles’ present day snooping in his uncle’s apartment and his past self’s time with Aaron. Reber makes a drastic difference by changing the lighting in the colors. The present is dark, muted and solemn. The past is bright, colorful and cheerful. It’s something somewhat small, and it’s something I’ve seen a few times before in comics, but I think Reber handles it brilliantly here.

SPIDER-MAN #239 page 3. Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

Final Thoughts: SPIDER-MAN #239

While overall this is a fun book with a cool Bendis callback, I was still somewhat disappointed with SPIDER-MAN #239. I hope the next issue lives up to Marvel’s hype, because this book itself isn’t really getting me ready for a grand finale.

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