Miles Morales: Shock Waves by Justin A Reynolds, illustrated by Pablo Leon

Miles Morales is an average Afro-Latino schoolkid with a not-so-average secret. He happens to be Brooklyn's recently 'appointed' Spider-Man.

His new occupation means balancing school boarding, family time and crimefighting is increasingly difficult, especially as he's still testing out his spidey senses. But, when a sudden earthquake hits his mum's beloved homeland of Puerto Rico, Miles swings convincingly into action, supported by roomie Ganke and newbie Kyle, with a growing suspicion that the Caribbean island's shock waves may have more sinister origins.

Part of Marvel and Scholastic's Original Graphic Novels Programme celebrating Black and brown superheroes, this well-pitched offering from best-selling US author Justin A. Reynolds is an exciting, fun read from cover to cover.

Perfect for eight years plus, it's action-packed right from the start to hook children in. It's also full of text messaging and teen-speak so feels very up to date (note: there are US spellings throughout this edition). The overall plot is purposely straightforward to give readers who are new to the form time to digest the layout, while those who are well-versed get just enough of a meaty storyline to keep them engaged. Violent action is tempered, being largely limited to 'harmless' web-trapping, trip-ups, sonic-blasts, and near misses.

The gorgeous retro-style illustrations from Eisner Award nominee Pablo Leon are colourful yet cleverly restrained by a muted palette, ensuring the fast-moving text combined with the images is easy to decipher. His use of perspective in each frame is as you'd expect from a graphic novel — varied, interesting and sometimes unexpected — with space between words and images providing opportunities for deeper appreciation of the plot, setting, characters' motivations and actions.

Protagonist Miles is artistic, funny and caring — an endearing character with whom many children will relate while reading about his ups and downs as he adjusts to his dual identity and newfound superhero celebrity. And, although veteran Peter Parker makes an appearance to offer Miles words of advice, it's a fleeting cameo that does not overshadow our charming, sharp-witted lead, whose unique superpower of invisibility is neatly foreshadowed early on. The diverse cast of characters plus the references to Puerto Rican family life and culture adds some depth and richness to the story that makes it all the more enjoyable.

The perfect way into graphic novels for children in KS2 this thrilling, superhero adventure will be enjoyed by middle-grade readers everywhere, especially fans of the smash-hit Marvel movie, Into the Spider-Verse. 

Watch the official book trailer here.

Miles Morales: Shock Waves by Justin A Reynolds, illustrated by Pablo Leon, is available now from Bookshop.


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