Title: Miles Morales: Shock Waves
Author: Justin Reynolds (writer); Pablo Leon (artist)
Publisher: Marvel (2021)
Age Rating: Ages 7+
I was having a discussion about story structure this week with a colleague, and he brought up that one of the reasons Spider-Man is so popular is because he is literally the “friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.” Most of his stories and conflicts happen in the neighborhood. It’s not some massive, global disaster that finds him time-traveling to save the world from aliens.
…sure, I know he does that stuff too…
But mostly, he’s in the mix with the citizens of NYC, battling it out with bank robbers and guys with less-than Stark tech.
AND Spider-Man gets his butt kicked…A LOT. But so do we, and Spider-Man teaches up to get up, and head back to your battles, with a joke and a positive attitude.
This is one of the reasons that Miles Morales hitting the scene was important to young people. We no longer had to live with a semi-young hero that had been around for decades. Miles gives us a friendly neighborhood teenage-hero that does the same thing, only cooler.
This brings us to the 2021 stand-alone Miles Morales graphic novel Miles Morales: Shock Waves. No this is not a collection of single issues that force you to know years of back-story. It’s a great entry into the character with a great story to boot.
The basic story of this one: after a devastating earthquake hits Puerto Rico (Miles’ mom’s birthplace), Miles sets out to do some serious fund raising while raising awareness, and in the process, discovers that there is something shady going on when the dad of a new student at Brooklyn Visions Academy goes missing.
Miles and his classmate Kyle uncover a web of secrets that force them to take action against a big corporation and an even bigger threat.
Like I said earlier, one of the best things about this book is that it’s in the neighborhood. I mean the major issue is bigger than NYC, but the players are local, as well as the tension and conflict.
What it’s teaching our young people is that change can and should start local. What can we do in our neighborhoods that can affect change that could have global implications?
The art of Pablo Leon is great, and fans of the Spider-Verse film will agree with me on this one. Colorful with simple, yet dynamic panel structures, the pages pop with an energy that is sure to keep young readers engaged.
This book needs to be in grammar and middle school classrooms and libraries. I would even say a class set could come in handy as a jumping off point into a unit on social change and engagement.
Check out my recent review of The Leak here for a great pairing title to get into the importance of students getting involved in local issues.
Be the change!
From your friendly neighborhood Teacher-Man,