Miles Morales: Spider-Man Annual (#1, 2021) – Saladin Ahmed

3 out of 5

You know how you pick up some Golden Age or Silver Age Spider-Mans, and sort of chortle at how Spidey is temporarily distracted by a one-shot-never-see-’em-again villain, wondering if this kinda stuff would’ve been of interest to you as a youngster? By the time I was actively reading Spideys (1989 through early 90s), stuff was still goofball, but we also had ongoing plots; I don’t remember too much one-shot villainy, though I’m sure it occurred.

While this Miles Morales annual may have build-up from within the Marvel Universe – an appearance by Amulet; references to The Champions – it has the feeling of one of those old-school one-and-dones, which I guess is fitting for an annual but not exactly my cuppa. There are no stakes, and it doesn’t really generate much interest in following up on a story – Miles’ or Amulet’s, aka Fadi Fadlalah. That said, writer Saladin Ahmed commits to the style well, and comes up with some plausible reasons to bring our two heroes together, away from their respective boroughs / cities, into Brooklyn in order to battle some ancient-demon fueled beasties that are tangentially tied to an Infinity stone, since this is part of the Infinite Destinies annuals crossover. (At least I think it’s an Infinity stone? Even that detail is very peripheral, making this, truly, an isolated story.)

Artist Luca Maresca does a kind of simplified riff on what I’d consider a Marvel “house” style – their beasts remind me of Brian Churilla, and their figurework has a Cameron Stewart animated-ness. ‘Simplified’ isn’t a knock – the Marvel house style gets rather repetitive, but Maresca’s got ace framing and paneling, and that simplification really helps keep focus where it needs to be, so it’s an easy read.

As with those classic issues, though, this is more of a distraction than something that demands your time; it’s popcorn entertainment that fulfills its duties as a one-shot annual.

The MacKay / Ferrerya Infinite Fury backup is less experimental than the previous parts, focusing more on story. But it’s good – it finally feels like we’ve turned a corner (er, right before the conclusion…) and can get into what it’s “really” been about, with a solid final panel reveal.