Tag Archives: Sara Pichelli

A Spider-Man/Spider-Gwen: Sitting in a Tree Review – Across the Spider-Verse

TITLE: Spider-Man/Spider-Gwen: Sitting in a Tree
AUTHOR: Brian Michael Bendis, Jason Latour
PENCILLERS: Sara Pichelli, Robbie Rodriguez
COLLECTS: Spider-Man #1214Spider-Gwen #1618
PRICE: $17.99
RELEASED: May 24, 2017

***WARNING: Spoilers lay ahead.***

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Who says there’s no such thing as modern romance? A good love story, especially in a teenage superhero book, can really hit the spot sometimes. But surprisingly, Sitting in a Tree doesn’t hit that spot in that respect. It never really delivers like you think it will.

Miles Morales’ father, now an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. again, has gone missing. A mission gone awry has seemingly left him lost in the multiverse. As such, Maria Hill recruits Miles for an off-the-books inter-dimensional search-and-rescue mission. Our hero’s search quickly takes him to Earth-65, a world where Gwen Stacy was bitten by a radioactive spider, and has become Spider-Woman. The two are already acquainted. So in Gwen, Miles finds a partner in his search. But does he also find an unlikely romance?

Typically, one of the goals of a crossover like this is to get readers of one book (in my case, Spider-Man) to start picking up another (Spider-Gwen). Years of comic book reading have left me pretty callous to such attempts. But as someone with little to no exposure to Spider-Gwen, I found myself pretty intrigued by what I saw. That’s a credit to Jason Latour, Robbi Rodriguez, and everybody on that book. Spider-Gwen #16 explores the Earth-65 New York City, as we meet it’s alternate versions of Matt Murdock (Daredevil) and Doctor Octopus. We also get a quick refresher as to how this world’s Peter Parker was different from the one we all know. It’s a great introduction to that character and her world.

More importantly, Robbi Rodriguez’s funky animated style is a treat. Combined with colorist Rico Renzi’s relatively bright palette, what we get is pretty unique. I found myself looking forward to Spider-Gwen just to see what they’d give us next. Renzi in particular gets to show off when we get to the Club Scorpion scene in issue #16 (shown left).

On the subject of art, I can’t find a lot of bad things to say about Sara Pichelli and colorist Justin Sponsor’s work here. Any time they work together on Miles it feels like a homecoming, as they did his earliest stories in Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man. That’s why it was so cool to have them on those early issues of Spider-Man. Pichelli gets to play with the multiverse stuff in issue #14, as Miles and Gwen jump into the Spider-Man: Noir universe, the Marvel Zombies universe, and then even the DC Universe for a quick jab at the competition (shown below). The latter got under my skin, but it also got a begrudged chuckle.

So the big selling point for Sitting in a Tree is the blossoming romance between Miles and Gwen. The premise made me think of how amazingly Bendis wrote Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson in Ultimate Spider-Man. When he wants to do the teenage romance stuff, he’s as good as anybody…

Which is why it’s a pretty big disappointment that the romance stuff almost gets glossed over until the third act. Even then, we don’t get much. Instead of this being the story where the two get together, it’s the story that lays the foundation for them to get together later. There’d be nothing wrong with that, except the book’s title and cover suggest otherwise. You close the book feeling like you were sold one thing but given another.

Still, it’s fun seeing our creators play with around with the Spider-Verse stuff. Spider-Ham pops up during the third act, and he brings in some extra back-up during the finale. It doesn’t make up for us not getting the inter-dimensional love affair the book advertises. But it’s a cool little bonus.

Sitting in a Tree is…fine. That’s it. Just fine. It’s got elements of an epic crossover between titles, but it comes up short of meeting its dramatic needs. What can I say? Some days I’m a hopeless romantic. I have no idea if they plan to come back to this Miles/Gwen thing at any point. But by God, if anybody can make the cross-dimensional romance thing work, it’s those two crazy kids!

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A Spider-Man #1 Review – The Rise of Spidey Jr.

Spider-Man #1, 2016, Sara PichelliTITLE: Spider-Man #1
AUTHOR: Brian Michael Bendis
PENCILLER: Sara Pichelli
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: February 3, 2016

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

As someone who followed Miles Morales’ adventures in the now defunct Ultimate Universe, Spider-Man #1 was an adjustment, and initially confusing. While this issue was mostly enjoyable, it left me wondering if Miles’ inclusion in the Marvel Universe proper will be a good thing for him in the long run.

After the events of Secret Wars, Miles and his cast of supporting characters have been retconned into the main Marvel Universe. In terms of backstory, our intro tells us the basics: Miles was bitten by a radioactive spider, became Spider-Man, and has only shared his secret with his father and his best friend Ganke. We see Miles try (unsuccessfully) to balance life as a teenager, and life as a superhero. But when Blackheart terrorizes New York City and leaves the Avengers laying, Miles can’t simply sit in class and do nothing…

I found a bit of dark humor in Blackheart’s appearance here. He’s the son of Mephisto, the demon who warped reality for Peter Parker (for better or worse) back in One More Day, and now that reality has been changed for Miles, Mephisto’s son pops up. Maybe that’s why Spider-Man has such notorious bad luck. He’s always got the devil watching him.

Spider-Man #1, Sara PichelliSpider-Man #1 confirms that much of what we enjoyed about Miles in the Ultimate Universe is still intact here. The most important of which are his wit and personality, and his friendship with Ganke. What it doesn’t tell us is how things have or have not changed. Miles apparently remembers everything that happened during his time in the Ultimate Universe, and on Battleworld. But this issue doesn’t tell us that. I myself had to find that out via an interview with Bendis. So if Miles remembers, does his father remember too? What about Ganke? If not, did he tell them? What about Peter Parker? What does he know about where Miles came from?

This is an instance where an issue #0 might have come in handy. I’m not suggesting one needs to know all of Miles’ exposition before reading Spider-Man #1. But it would have helped bridge the gap between this issue and Secret Wars. We wouldn’t have had to comb through every inch of Miles’ continuity. Just a brief look at what the Ultimate Universe was, and how Miles fits into the primary Marvel Universe. That way, all the nagging questions are answered. Hopefully Bendis is planning on addressing those questions sooner rather than later anyway. But an issue #0 would have been an easy access point.

Spider-Man #1, 2016, Sara Pichelli, spash pageDespite the confusion, Miles is nicely portrayed as a teenage superhero torn in so many different directions. Parents, grades, girls, not to mention the Avengers-level threat attacking the city. It’s classic Spider-Man stuff, really. There’s a great scene where Miles tries to talk his way out of class, hears no from his teacher, and then simply walks out. Even if this is your first exposure to him, I imagine it’d be hard not to root for Miles here.

It’s difficult to overstate the importance of Ganke to Miles and his world. They’ve almost got a Frodo/Sam dynamic going on. Miles is obviously the hero, and that’s okay with Ganke, who is simply happy to help his friend however he can. He’s very endearing that way. Miles and Ganke can also consistently pull off “Bendis Banter,” i.e. Bendis’ trademark hit-or-miss attempts at witty dialogue, without it grating on the reader. Perhaps that’s because coming from two teenage boys, it feels more believable than usual. In any event, readers can be grateful Ganke jumped universes alongside his best bud.

Sara Pichelli is once again drawing Miles in this issue, and that’s something fans can be thankful for. As the artist who drew his origin story, there’s a special vibe any time she’s with the character. To her credit, she’s aged him very convincingly. As awkward as it sounds, if you’ve followed Miles from his first appearance up to Spider-Man #1, it legitimately looks like we’ve seen this character go through puberty. So often, comic books are like revolving doors when it comes to writers and artists that we don’t typically see that happen.

Spider-Man #1, 2016, Sara Pichelli, While we don’t see much of him in this issue, it looks like we’ll soon be diving into how Peter Parker effects Miles’ life, and his role as Spider-Man. Quite frankly, I’m nervous about that.

In the Ultimate Marvel line, Miles became Spider-Man after Peter Parker died. That was part of what garnered so much publicity when the character made his debut. He wasn’t just some spinoff character. He was the Spider-Man. In this new series, he’s a Spider-Man. The tried and true Spidey is still alive and well, and from the get-go, Miles is somewhat redundant. The two characters even share the same home city. Miles may as well be called Spidey Jr. I’m reminded of the brief period when Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson both wore the mantle of Batman before the New 52 launched. That didn’t last long, and typically this kind of dichotomy doesn’t. So what happens to Miles when it’s time for there to be only one Spider-Man?

Furthermore, this whole All-New, All-Different initiative is obviously a hook for new readers. But to what degree does having two Spider-Men cause confusion among those readers?

Still, despite lingering questions Spider-Man #1 delivers. For those of us familiar with Miles, we get the next chapter in his story. New readers are introduced to a young hero, who depending one’s perspective, may be the rightful Spider-Man of the 21st century.

Images from author’s collection.

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An Ultimate Comics Spider-Man, Vol. 1 Review – ANOTHER Genetically Altered Spider…

Ultimate Comics Spider-Man, Vol. 1, 2016TITLE: Ultimate Comics Spider-Man, Vol. 1
AUTHOR: Brian Michael Bendis
PENCILLER: Sara Pichelli
COLLECTS: Portion of Ultimate Fallout #4Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #1-5
FORMAT: Hardcover
PRICE: $24.99
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?

Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #1, 2011, Sara PichelliThe 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.

Ultimate Comics Spider-Man, Miles Morales, Sara PichelliFrom 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.

RATING: 9/10

Image 1 from comiclist.com. Image 2 from author’s collection. Image 3 from spidermancrawlspace.com. 

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