Spider-Men II #2
Writer Brian Michael Bendis adds some deep characterization to the two Spideys in SPIDER-MEN II #2. He isn't too heavy on the plot in this issue, though. Sara Pichelli's art and Justin Ponsor's coloring make the issue beautiful to look at. Hopefully Bendis adds more plot in later issues, because a five-issue miniseries can only handle one filler issue.
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So Quippy

SPIDER-MEN II #2 by Brian Michael Bendis and Sara Pichelli features action, drama, and quips. In this issue, Bendis relies more on dialogue than story progression, making this a borderline filler issue. However, this isn’t much of a problem because Peter Parker’s bromance with Miles Morales is just incredibly endearing. In SPIDER-MEN II #2, Bendis’ characterizations of the two Spider-Men are on point. Pichelli, as usual, brings beautiful and expressive art to the table with this issue as well. Overall, SPIDER-MEN II #2, while light in the story department, generally makes up for this with the expert-level dialogue, characterization, and art.

The Treacherous Taskmaster

SPIDER-MEN II #2 opens with Peter and Miles confronting Taskmaster, who just stepped through a dimensional portal. Peter deduces that it may be the same one that transported him to the Ultimate Universe in the original SPIDER-MEN miniseries. Peter and Miles attack Taskmaster. Taskmaster seems to have gained new energy-based superpowers. He makes short work of the two Spideys and gets away while taking the portal with him. The Spider-Men wonder how Taskmaster gained these new powers and how the portal became portable.

Spider-Men II #2
Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

Beginning this issue with a fight scene was a great choice by Bendis. Because the rest of the issue contains mainly character-building dialogue scenes, this starts the issue with a bang. It engages the readers in the story immediately due to the newly raised questions. What’s with Taskmaster’s new garb? Where did his new powers come from? Does that portal lead to the Ultimate Universe? With SPIDER-MEN II #2, Bendis presents a load of questions that need answering, but he answers only one, a five-year-old holdout from the original miniseries. Spoiler alert: it’s kinda anticlimactic. Luckily, Bendis’ use of quips still makes the issue enjoyable.

READ: Want to know more about the original SPIDER-MEN miniseries? Check out this article!

Quips Upon Quips

Bendis isn’t a slouch in his Spider-Man knowledge. He wrote what may have been the perfect representation of Peter Parker in ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN. Suffice to say, Bendis knows that quips and jokes are an integral part of the Spider-Man mythos. Both Peter and Miles, Bendis’ creation, rely on this mainly one-sided banter to hide their abject fear of being in a profession where their lives are on the line anytime they suit up. However, in SPIDER-MEN II #2, it seems like the jokes are elevated from just a coping mechanism. Bendis uses them in order to show how close Peter and Miles are. The Spider-Men don’t just share a secret identity and a stable of spider-based powers. They’re such close friends that they’re basically brothers.

Spider-Men II #2
Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

For example, during the fight with Taskmaster, Peter and Miles’ quips work in tandem with each other. It’s like they have an understanding and a natural rhythm. You can’t really achieve that if you’re not too close with the person you’re bantering with. It’s a weird way of showing it, but this is basically a microcosm of Peter and Miles’ relationship.

Later on in the issue, they meet up in street clothes and trade barbs about what they’re wearing. This is something best friends and brothers do. Sure, SPIDER-MEN II #2 may be a little too close to a filler issue in terms of story, but it really adds a touching connection to the two Spideys. We haven’t seen them interact much since the end of SECRET WARS, so it’s so refreshing to see them act like this.

READ: Here’s a preview of the first issue of SPIDER-MEN II!

Freddy Krueger, Jason Vorhees… Tony Masters?

Sara Pichelli’s art in SPIDER-MEN II #2 is a treasure. One element that really stood out to me was her Taskmaster redesign. Taskmaster’s normal suit is a little ridiculous looking. It’s basically a combination of Captain America, a flamboyant pirate, and the Red Skull. Pichelli’s redesign almost makes him look like something out of a horror movie. His costume is still a little ridiculous, like Jason Voorhees by way of a Renaissance Faire, but Pichelli’s art, along with Justin Ponsor’s colors, make him look legitimately creepy. This, in turn, makes Taskmaster look like a legitimate threat. In the past, he just seemed like a garishly dressed supervillain. Now, he actually looks like a fearsome assassin/mercenary, not the butt of one of Spider-Man’s quips.

Spider-Men II #2
Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

In one scene, Taskmaster emerges from the shadows. Pichelli and Ponsor draw a close up of his mask, still shrouded in shadow, save for the dull yellow of his mask and his chilling, beady red eyes. It looks like a scary villain-reveal shot in a slasher movie. I could see this version of Taskmaster mowing down innocent teenagers in a cabin in the woods, especially with that ridiculously large, blood-stained hooked sword he carries in the beginning of the issue.

SPIDER-MEN II #2 — A Nonessential Read, but Still Loads of Fun.

If you’re interested in the ongoing mystery of Miles Morales’ Earth 616 counterpart, SPIDER-MEN II #2 won’t really scratch that itch. You won’t miss much by skipping it. However, if you do pick up the issue, you’ll still be entertained, especially if you’re a Spidey fan. Between the quippy dialogue of the two Spider-Men and the characterization development that results from it, you won’t feel shortchanged picking up this book.

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