This week’s Marvel Rundown looks at a possible ending for one hero, and a new beginning for one of the publisher’s newest villains. First up, old man Spider-Man protects a post-apocalyptic Brooklyn in Miles Morales: The End #1! Is the story a fitting end for the young wallcrawler?
Then, spinning out of the pages of Captain Marvel is the first solo miniseries for Star! Fueled by the Reality Stone, can the villain learn to control her abilities before it’s too late?
We’ve got discussion and reviews of those titles, along with a Rapid Rundown of other new releases from the House of Ideas, all ahead in this week’s installment of The Marvel Rundown!
Miles Morales: The End #1
Written by Saladin Ahmed
Illustrated by Damion Scott
Colored by Dono Sánchez-Almara
Lettered by VC’s Cory Petit
Cover by Rahzzah
Joe Grunenwald: Marvel’s latest look at endings for their heroes begins with one of its newer marquee stars: Spider-Man Miles Morales! Team, what did you think of Miles Morales: The End #1?
Hussein Wasiti: I had a lot of fun with this. It’s a fairly traditional post-apocalyptic story but the strength of it lies in the characterisation of Old Man Spider-Man. Usually these kinds of characters are grumpy and world-weary but I was surprised at how positive and joyful this take on the character was.
Samantha Puc: I thought this was great! I wasn’t surprised by Miles’ positivity, because that’s such a core tenet of his character, but I was surprised by the bright, colorful art. The cover painted the impression we were in for something dark and deeply moody, but that wasn’t the case at all.
Chloe Maveal: I agree with Hussein that this was a pretty traditional post-apocalyptic story, and it that respect the title succeeded. But honestly, I’m just sort of confused as to why this book had to exist. I really didn’t get the vibe that Old Man Miles was the same Miles that we’ve come to love over the years. I agree that the positivity in the face of things was lovely. But there was a genericism about him that I was just very bored by.
Wasiti: That cover definitely did throw me off, Sam.
Grunenwald: I find one-shots like these to be really challenging. The creators have a lot of world-building to do, while still attempting to tell a meaningful story from a character perspective, all within the confines of 20-odd pages. I agree with Chloe that there’s some genericism that crept into the story as a result – we don’t know what the pandemic was that made the rest of the United States unlivable, for example, only that there was one and that’s what happened – but I’m willing to sacrifice some of that world-building for character, and I think the character work in this issue was fantastic.
Maveal: Totally. But Miles is Mayor somehow so I mean…okay. (This is the stuff that made me go “hmm”. Some backstory would have been appreciated, but I get that they had limited pages to fill. But then again, why do this story with literally no exposition if they knew they had limited space?)
Grunenwald: I read ‘Mayor’ to be more of an honorary title in this story. If society truly crumbled, I’d be surprised if they took the time to hold an election (though that’s a story I’d be into reading as well).
Wasiti: I wasn’t really bothered by the lack of exposition. It’s more about the final days of the character, so I didn’t go in expecting a fully-fleshed out world considering all these one-shots take place in a future we’ll likely never see again.
Puc: I think “The End” one-shots all have to jump right in, and there are quite a few of them coming out from Marvel this year. I can see why the lack of setup is frustrating, but to me, this felt like a natural progression from what’s going on in the current Marvel Universe timeline. I also read ‘Mayor’ as an honorary title rather than a formal one.
Grunenwald: The core of the story is really that optimism you mentioned. In the face of everything, that’s Miles in my mind. Even his last words rang true to the character for me. I’m not surprised, considering Saladin Ahmed is Miles’s regular writer. And I appreciated that you could pick this book up and get into it based solely on a familiarity with Miles, which makes it great for new readers. They might be confused by why Miles is old and dies at the end, but hopefully it’ll make them go back and look for other Miles comics to read.
Maveal: That’s too true. As much as I want to continue shaking my first about the unprecedented number of one-shots Marvel is putting out, stories like these do act as a great incentive to have new readers curious about back issues!
Wasiti: Great point, Joe. I love how self-contained it is.
Puc: Agreed! It was interesting seeing some of the cost of the apocalypse, as well — Ganke’s death, which was apparently very heroic, the total separation of Miles and people he once fought alongside, like Kamala… The stakes felt real, even if I didn’t have the answer to every question in my mind, if that makes sense.
Grunenwald: I was interested in learning more about Ganke’s death, because that’s such a bummer. But it also speaks to Miles’s adversity. Even in the face of his best friend being gone, he’s still as positive as ever. I liked the little nod to Kamala, too, and to the fans who ‘ship them. (I may be one of those fans.)
Wasiti: I found the distance between Miles and Kamala to be analogous to growing up, becoming an adult. They’ve both got their own responsibilities and just don’t have the time to spare. As fans of those characters that hit me in the gut.
Maveal: That’s a great analogy, Hussein. One I didn’t think of at all and now it’s got me on board the feels train.
Grunenwald: Yeah, that is really a great point.
Wasiti: Was I the only one who found the artwork slightly troublesome? I liked how colourful it was like Sam mentioned, and some of the character designs are neat, but I had a hard time understanding what was happening during some of the action scenes.
Maveal: It definitely kicked me back to about 15 years ago when he did Batgirl which was also visually exhausting.
Grunenwald: I had trouble following some of it as well. Damion Scott‘s style is dynamic and visually exciting, and Dono Sánchez-Almara‘s colors pop off the page equally well. The combination of the two, though, did make it a little tough to discern what was going on during some of the action sequences.
Puc: That’s fair — the action scenes were muddled. If I’m honest, I so appreciated Ahmed really going in on misappropriation of Captain America by hate groups that I wasn’t particularly focused on the art in those panels!
Wasiti: Visually exhausting is a great way to put it, Chloe. I did like that the style lent to how expressive the characters were, but when it came to action scenes my brain kind of melted.
Grunenwald: I hadn’t considered that element, Sam, but that’s a great observation. I thought of Captain Last in Marvel U terms as a natural progression for a Nuke-like character.
Puc: You know me, always looking at the Politics In Comics.
Grunenwald: Is there anything else anyone wants to add on this book before we render our verdicts?
Puc: Just that I’d read a whole series about Maxine Lee.
Grunenwald: Maxine was very fun. Barring time travel I doubt we’ll see her again, but how great would that be? Ganke’s adult daughter comes back in time and bosses her dad and uncle around.
Wasiti: Maxine Lee: The End #1, hitting shelves soon.
Grunenwald: For a story about the possible death of Miles Morales, this comic was a lot of fun. While the art may not be for everyone, and it didn’t always land for me, it’s ambitious enough that I still really enjoyed looking at it. Ahmed, Scott, and co. have imagined a fitting end for the young Spider-Man. Let’s hope it never comes to pass. I’m giving Miles Morales: The End a BUY.
Wasiti: I found this to be a subversive take on the typical post-apocalyptic story, with a true-to-form positive take on its lead character. Like Joe, I had some issues with the art but the comic’s charm is undeniable. I’m giving this a BUY.
Maveal: I’m giving it a BROWSE. While I wasn’t the biggest fan of the story or the art on this one, I do have a deep love for Miles as a character. I know that there are plenty of Spider-Man fans who would probably love to see this story being told as a final chapter, and to those folks: I hope you dig it more than I did.
Puc: I had a lot of fun with this, despite worrying it would make me cry. I think it’s a good read for anyone who’s even passingly familiar with Miles, and I love Ahmed’s writing so much. This gets a BUY from me!
Final Verdict: The Rundown crew is overall positive about Miles Morales: The End, with Sam, Hussein, and Joe giving it a BUY and Chloe giving it a BROWSE!
Written by Kelly Thompson
Illustrated by Javier Pina with Filipe Andrade
Colored by Jesus Aburtov
Lettered and Designed by VC’s Clayton Cowles
Cover by Carmen Carnero & Jesus Aburtov
Samantha Puc: Ripley Ryan burst onto the scene in Captain Marvel when she became Star, a villain with the Reality Stone embedded in her chest who was meant to kill Carol Danvers. That didn’t work out for her; she was sent to the Raft for nearly murdering most of New York City. Now she’s escaped, and Marvel’s biggest heroes — and antiheroes — are after her, not just for attempting to murder Captain Marvel, but for the stone in her chest. There are three major character appearances in Star #1 (and the brief return of Titania!), and Ripley’s new haircut isn’t fooling any of them. They know who she is and that she’s screwing up the world, and they all want to stop her, even if their methods differ.
Kelly Thompson explores trauma and responsibility in this issue, which continues threads that she started weaving with Star’s creation in Captain Marvel. Javier Pina and Filipe Andrade draw women well, which makes them both an excellent fit for the story, and Jesus Aburtov‘s colors make the lighting effects in each panel really pop. I’d be remiss not to call out Clayton Cowles‘ consistently excellent lettering as well, which ties everything together and helps establish Ripley’s narrative voice, especially as she begins to take control of the Reality Stone (or does she?). Even if you haven’t kept up with the current Captain Marvel ongoing (which would be a shame, because it is excellent), Star #1 is a good jumping-on point that introduces you to a new Marvel villain of dubious morals and establishes her place in the Universe at large. For my money, this debut issue is a BUY.
Hussein Wasiti: I’m ashamed to say that I haven’t been reading the current Captain Marvel run, so I don’t have any experience with Star. After reading Star #1, I found myself with some catching up to do. It’s not every day that you have an everywoman become a villain with uncontrollable powers, and this is the dynamic that I find appealing in this character. She’s clearly been through the ringer in her battle with Captain Marvel and she just wants to be left alone, but outside forces are interested in the Infinity Gem inside her which leaves her no option but to fight.
Kelly Thompson’s new reader-friendly approach to this issue is something I greatly appreciated. She quickly and succinctly sums up Star’s origin story as well as the life ahead of her, one where she wishes to be left alone but can’t because people like Loki will hunt her down for the power inside her. Javier Pina and Felipe Andrade do some great work, though I fail to understand why two different artists were necessary. Nonetheless, the art was pretty nice despite some issues I had with characters’ facial expressions. Jesus Aburtov and Clayton Cowles round up the art team with reliable quality.
I had no opinion on Star until I read this issue, which is odd considering how excited I am for the rest of this miniseries. I had some issues with the art but other than that, I had a great time. I’m giving this a BUY.
Final Verdict: Sam and Hussein both give Star #1 a BUY!
- Excalibur #5
- Tini Howard and Marcus To continue to set apart their mutant/magic hybrid series from the rest of the X-flock with the most intense issue of the series yet. Tensions are high; demons from the Otherworld have crossed into our dimension, and things aren’t looking so good on the homefront either with Apocalypse and Gambit’s rivalry reaching its violent crescendo. To’s artwork blows me away issue after issue, and I can’t wait to see how people react to the ending. — HW
- Ghost-Spider #6
- If you could travel between dimensions, would you take your friends to see alt-universe versions of their favorite bands in concert? Gwen Stacy does, and that’s one of the many reasons we love her. Ghost-Spider #6 introduces a new arc and begins to alter some key dynamics for the series, but the Jackal and Man-Wolf are nowhere to be seen, which is… nerve-wracking, to say the least. Art by IG Guara and Rosi Kämpe makes this issue truly sing; the t-shirts MJ and Gwen wear are especially excellent. Another great installment in an excellent ongoing story. — SP
- Marvels X #1
- The prequel series to the Earth X universe begins. Original series creators Alex Ross and Jim Krueger‘s story is compelling, small in scale and focused on a protagonist with a lot of heart. Krueger’s script is occasionally very expository, but once that’s done with the focus is purely on character. Artist Well-Bee‘s work is fantastic throughout, whether it’s evoking Marvel’s silver age, presenting a quiet moment between a boy and his grandmother, or revealing a character’s new abilities. The issue also doesn’t require knowledge of the previous Earth X material, which I very much appreciated. I’m definitely curious to see where this title goes, and it may lead me to check out the original series once all’s said and done. — JG
- Star Wars: The Rise of Kylo Ren #2
- The fall of Ben Solo continues with a flashback story featuring young Ben and his master, Luke Skywalker, encountering the Knights of Ren. If you were underwhelmed by the Knights’s showing in The Rise of Skywalker, they may leave more of an impression on you here. Charles Soule‘s character work on Ben is engaging, and it’s thrilling to see Will Sliney‘s take on a post-Return of the Jedi Luke Skywalker who’s at the height of his abilities. This is a great read that made me want to see more stories set during this period. — JG
- X-Force #5
- The threat against Krakoa and its mutant population becomes a little more clear — and more human — with this issue. Other than that, there unfortunately isn’t that much to this issue. There’s an overreliance on hyper-violence that I find kind of cheap, and the few data pages in this issue do nothing but slow the pace down and overexplain what the previous page was able to convey fine with less dialogue and more visuals. It’s still a good-looking book, though. Joshua Cassara and Dean White, along with guest colourist Rachelle Rosenberg, produce some solid visuals, despite my confusion for what’s being depicted. — HW
Next week, it’s Arno Stark’s time to shine in Iron Man 2020 #1!