Miles Morales: Spider-Man introduced a new character named Starling – but while she’s one of the good guys, her grandfather was a notorious criminal.
The ongoing Miles Morales: Spider-Man series introduced a new character to the Marvel universe – a vigilante known as Starling. But while Starling herself may be a new addition, her family tree has deep roots in Spider-Man history that may cause problems for Miles Morales’ Spider-Man down the line.
Starling first appeared in Miles Morales: Spider-Man #5 and has popped up in a few other issues over the course of the series. After nearly killing Miles thinking he was part of Tombstone’s gang, the two made up and worked together to take the villain down. But even though Miles and Starling are on the same side, they definitely have their differences. Starling’s vigilante methods are more brutal than what Miles is used to, and she has no inhibitions about taking lives – something she may have gotten from her grandfather.
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Starling later reveals to Miles that her real name is Tiana Toomes, granddaughter of Adrian Toomes, aka the Vulture. Vulture has been an enemy of the original Spider-Man, Peter Parker, since the character was created back in 1963. However, according to Tiana, her grandfather wasn’t all bad – in fact, much of the money he stole went towards helping her and her mother back in Detroit. Not only that, but Starling’s suit was actually a gift from Vulture himself.
Miles Morales: Spider-Man #10 provides a more detailed backstory for Starling, giving readers a glimpse into her life back in Detroit. Tiana’s father, Adrian’s son, abandoned her and her mother when Tiana was very young. The family struggled financially until Tiana’s grandfather began providing for them. Adrian would also use Detroit as a place to hide out, seeing as he was usually wanted in New York, and take his granddaughter for rides on his Vulture suit. When Tiana’s mother passed, Adrian gifted her a flying harness of her own and offered to let her stay at his place in New York, where she eventually took up the mantle of Starling.
It’s always nice to see some complexity added to villains; knowing that Vulture was sending money to his family and seeing the genuine relationship he had with his granddaughter definitely shows the character in a new light. Miles also didn’t seem too put off that Starling’s grandfather was a super-villain – perhaps unsurprising given his Uncle Aaron’s own supervillain identity as the Prowler. In fact, there even seems to be potential for a romantic relationship between them. However, Starling’s propensity for violence may drive a wedge between them down the line, despite Miles’ role as an outlaw underage hero. Regardless, it will be interesting to see how their partnership evolves moving forward.
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