Brian Michael Bendis has been writing Spider-Man for over sixteen years now, and his affinity for the wall-crawler certainly shows in this latest Generations one-shot, which is also the final issue in Marvel's line-wide 'Generations' tie-in.
The series, acting as a thematic prequel of sorts to Marvel Legacy, follows a bunch of the company's 'legacy' characters as they team up with their OG counterparts. Kelly Thompson did a brilliant Hawkeye tie-in the other month, and Jason Aaron did the same with Thor. The torch now falls to Bendis however, who opted to place one of Spidey's most historic moments in the limelight for Miles' journey through time.
And it works... for the most part. Bendis really has a feel for the history of the character and the way in which he depicts sixties Spidey is particularly brilliant, with exclamation marks and external monologues adorning the foreground of the issue whenever the pair meet. Ramon Perez's art also pays homage to the pencils of Ditko and Romita superbly, lending the book a really authentic feel that's bound to get Spidey fans talking (and in a good way too).
The issue, primarily, is all about Miles' struggle to reconcile his superhero identity with all the usual Spidey fare; "family, friends, schoolwork" - all of it has taken a backseat while he thwips his way across New York, and it seems as though he's been sent back in time precisely because of this. It's not just any old year though - Miles meets Peter during the events of The Amazing Spider-Man #33, which is about as key a moment as you can pinpoint in the Spidey canon.
It makes for a thoroughly enjoyable and emotional comic, but one that's also impeded by a somewhat bizarre moment in its final pages where Miles basically thanks Peter for letting him be Spider-Man... kind of? Like, it's genuinely weird to see the character state (in no small way) that being Spider-Man is more about Peter than it is himself.
In any case, this Generations tie-in succeeds where others haven't. Bendis, despite the odd moment at the end, handles the story really well, providing a heartwarming tale that pretty neatly exemplifies everything Spider-Man has or ever will be. It reminds us of the struggles that really defined the character in his earliest adventures, and places them in a context where both we - the reader - and Miles can appreciate them even more.
It's not perfect though, and while the purpose of these Generations tie-ins is plain for all to see, this need to 'remind' readers of where these characters came from feels tacked-on and even somewhat dismissive of the legacies they've built themselves. Miles has been Spider-Man for over six years now, and in that time has managed to endear the hearts and minds of readers everywhere, lead his own book and feature in a number of Marvel's flagship titles.
In that sense, Generations: The Spiders feels almost like a step-back for the character. It succeeds in places, and it's brilliant to see an older Miles interacting with Pete during his college years, but it seems to forego the fact that we've already seen the character own his identity since his initial introduction. Irrespective of whatever Spider-themed struggles he's currently experiencing, Miles is Spider-Man just as much Peter is - a trip through time shouldn't have to serve as a reminder of that.