52 pages 1 hour read

Jason Reynolds

Miles Morales: Spider-Man

Fiction | Graphic Novel/Book | YA | Published in 2017

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Summary and Study Guide

Overview

Miles Morales: Spider-Man (2017) is Jason Reynolds’s spin on the well-known Spider-Man character Miles Morales. Reynolds is the first author to write the character outside of his original creator Brian Michael Bendis. Officially added to the Marvel canon by Marvel Press, this novel is an adored addition to the complicated lore of Spider-Man by fans and casual readers alike.

Content Warning: Miles Morales: Spider-Man depicts harmful beliefs about slavery and incarceration. It also includes scenes of graphic violence.

Plot Summary

Set in modern-day Brooklyn, New York, Miles Morales: Spider-Man follows 16-year-old Miles Morales, also known as the superhero Spider-Man, as he attempts to become a better student and son. Miles, a student at the prestigious Brooklyn Visions Academy (BVA), attempts to deal with the struggles of adolescence like falling in love, studying, and making his community proud. However, once Miles’s spidey-sense begins going haywire every time he is in history teacher Mr. Chamberlain’s classroom and gets him in trouble, Miles decides to quit being Spider-Man and focus on school. However, Miles’s spidey-sense begins to react more and more severely to Mr. Chamberlain as he begins to discuss the Civil War and slavery in less accurate, slightly threatening terms. Miles becomes increasingly anxious and wonders if the danger he is sensing is actually coming from his history teacher. However, he chooses to stay quiet, not wanting to cause trouble and end up like his deceased Uncle Aaron, whose death haunts him.

Later in the week, Miles receives a letter from a boy named Austin who turns out to be his cousin and Uncle Aaron’s son. Miles contemplates writing him back, and, in an effort to escape his feelings, decides to leave his work-study job early to visit an open mic event held by the school’s poetry club. His crush, Alicia Carson, is hosting, and he wants to confess his feelings for her at the event. Shortly after arriving at the event, Miles flees the scene upon being called onto the stage to read the poem he’d written for Alicia; he leaves her confused and wondering. When Miles returns to work, he drafts a letter to his cousin to send the next day. In the morning, Miles is taken to the dean’s office, where he finds his parents waiting for him. Miles is accused of stealing from the store he worked at. To avoid expulsion, Miles confesses that he left the store to go to the open mic event; he loses his job and housing scholarship.

Tensions continue to rise in Mr. Chamberlain’s class, as Alicia stages a protest against the way their teacher is discussing slavery and incarceration. Alicia is suspended for a day, and upon her return, things continue to get worse. Miles’s nightmares become more disturbing and graphic, and he becomes increasingly distressed. When Miles goes home for the weekend, he and his father visit Austin in prison and learn that Uncle Aaron had been stealing things in order to pay for Austin’s mother’s medication; Austin ended up in prison by picking up where his father left off when he died, and his mother passes away upon his incarceration.

During the Halloween party at his school later that same evening, Miles gives Alicia his poem before running after Mr. Chamberlain, who suspiciously left the party. Miles follows him through a secret underground tunnel that leads to the prison he visited earlier that morning. He watches as Mr. Chamberlain joins a group of men that surround an older man. The older man, the Warden, addresses all of the men as “the Chamberlains” and discusses their plans to slowly snatch people up and place them in prison—what they refer to as “new” slavery. Miles realizes that he, his friends, and his neighborhood are in danger and runs back to his dorm to come up with a plan to stop the Warden. Early the next morning, Miles faces the Warden in his Spider-Man suit. Despite the Warden’s supernatural ability to warp reality, Miles is able to defeat him by using his own weapon against him. When Miles returns to school, he and Alicia stage a protest in Mr. Chamberlain’s classroom and all of their peers join in, chanting with them.

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