TITLE: Ultimate Comics Spider-Man, Vol. 1
AUTHOR: Brian Michael Bendis
PENCILLER: Sara Pichelli
COLLECTS: Portion of Ultimate Fallout #4, Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #1-5
RELEASED: February 15, 2012
By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder
Miles Morales hasn’t even been around a year, and he’s already one of the most intriguing characters in all of comics, and it’s not just because he’s a half black, half Latino Spider-Man.
Shortly before Peter Parker’s death at the hands of the Green Goblin and the rest of his rivals, yet another genetically altered spider is stolen from Oscorp. The spider finds its way on to the hand of young Miles Morales, and bites him. Miles, who has just been chosen via lottery to attend a prestigious charter school, quickly develops abilities much like Spider-Man’s, with a few bonuses: He can also become invisible, and deliver a stinging “venom strike.” Miles is initially hesitant to take on a hero role, but after he sees Peter’s death firsthand, he is inspired to succeed him as New York City’s friendly neighborhood web slinger. But is the city ready for a new Spider-Man? And what will Peter’s comrade’s at S.H.I.E.L.D. have to say about this?
The structure is similar, but the specifics are different. To an extent, it’s the same thing here with the origins of Peter Parker and Miles Morales (only the newer installment isn’t sub-par). They’re both basically good people, with strong moral influences in their lives. They get these incredible powers and don’t know what to do with them. Then tragedy strikes, and they blame themselves for not preventing it. Thus, they have their call to action. Same basic story, different characters, different specifics. I give Bendis a lot of credit for staying true to Spider-Man’s “power and responsibility” values in the creation of the Miles character, while not flat out rehashing Peter’s origin.
Miles’ supporting cast is a nice mix of new and established characters. Unlike Peter, both of his parents are alive as he starts his journey. His father, while seemingly opposed to the existence of mutants, has a solid sense of right and wrong, and tries to instill that in Miles. His best friend Ganke is the first person he tells about his new abilities, and Ganke proves more enthusiastic about Miles’ powers than he initially is. Also in Miles’ life is his uncle Aaron, a thief who calls himself The Prowler (a name Marvel fans may know). Miles trusts his uncle, much to his father’s chagrin. Spider-Woman and Nick Fury both play roles here. Gwen Stacy also plays a brief, yet important part.
I’m a big fan of the black and red costume, though we see it very little in this story. It’s a nice hybrid of the classic suit and the black symbiote suit. It’s not nearly as “busy” as the classic suit, and has a nice sleek look to it. Pichelli also does a wonderful job establishing the Miles character, conveying his emotional roller coaster as effectively as one could hope for. What Bagley did for Peter in the original series, Pichelli has done for Miles here. For better or worse, this is her Spider-Man now.
From a collection standpoint, my only real complaint with this volume is that we don’t see very much action. Miles doesn’t officially become Spider-Man until the very end of the book. I’m assuming Marvel was anxious to get this book on the stands so that readers waiting to see how Miles’ story played out could get a look at him, and possibly jump on to the monthly title. That’s understandable, but I wish we could have seen our new Spider-Man in action. He actually apprehends a D-list supervillain in this book, but we skip over the fight itself, which is frustrating.
One of the thing’s that so great about this title is that there’s so much to look forward to. With the original Ultimate Spider-Man book, we had a sense of the broad strokes. We knew who most of the characters were, and to an extent we could predict what would happen to them (Gwen Stacy dies, Eddie Brock becomes Venom, etc). But this is a whole new ball game. Most of the classic characters are still around, but now there are no rules. Bendis can essentially do whatever he wants with whomever he wants. Throw in a new hero that’s very easy to root for, and that’s grounds for very interesting storytelling. I’m very anxious to see what’s next.
Ironic, isn’t it? Peter Parker’s death may make way for some of the most interesting Spider-Man content in quite awhile.
Image 1 from comiclist.com. Image 2 from author’s collection. Image 3 from spidermancrawlspace.com.
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