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Ultimate Comics Spider-Man, Vol. 1 Hardcover – February 15, 2012
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The first volume of a new title has to capture the imagination, and while there's a lot of good about this title, Miles's character isn't totally fleshed out. In another title written by Brian Michael Bendis, The Ultimate Spider-Man, Peter Parker lets a criminal go despite having powers because Parker doesn't see why he should fight crime. When that same criminal kills Uncle Ben, a superhero is born. There is no moment like that in Miles Morales's story.
Having a superhero in grade school can be done well. In Geoff Johns's Shazam, Billy initially uses his powers to push over cars and buy beer. I really don't feel that Morales is the kid he's supposed to be. I don't have a problem with them creating a new Spider-Man, and I think there's potential in Miles Morales's story. The universe he lives in is very well established, and he's stronger than Peter Parker, being able to blend into the background (chameleon power) and shock his enemies (venom power). Bendis is nothing but creative. I just think the title should have been better. ***
It's been six months since Magneto's monster tidal wave devastated New York and worked irrevocable changes to the Ultimate Universe. When ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN ended its run, we were left wondering whether our favorite teenaged wallcrawler made it thru okay. At the time all we were left with was Spidey's mask, all forlorn looking, and the thought that there was simply no way that Bendis would kill off his cash cow... right?
I guess there was never anything to fret about. Here's this trade ULTIMATE COMICS SPIDER-MAN reprinting the first six issues of the revamped series, and, not that it matters a what, but the sub-title to this collection is THE WORLD ACCORDING TO PETER PARKER. And this run heralds some big changes. I guess it didn't take all that long for the Ultimate Universe to get all muddled, and so the fix was in. Six months after the killer wave put a crimp on everyone's day, and we crack open the first issue of Spidey's new comic book. We learn right off that Peter's got a new gig and it's markedly a step down from what he'd been doing at the Bugle. In his old job, he didn't have to put on a froggie hat. And five pages into the thing we eye the splash page of a glistening New York City, and I'm thinking "Brother, there must've been a gang of construction crews working overtime!" because there's nary a messed up edifice in sight. We gaze at a cityscape resplendent with erect, gleaming structures, and I can't help but call bullhockey. I would've liked to have seen signs of rebuilding still being done somewhere. Because, in a way, this fully restored New York City cheapens what happened six months ago.
On the superhero front, there are still criminally-minded idiots for the webhead to web up, and the cool thing is, after his heroic actions six months ago, Spidey is now beloved by the citizens of NYC, and this includes even New York's finest (except, really, how long is that gonna last?). It's gratifying that even that hateful principal at Peter's school is thinking more charitable thoughts about the wallcrawler - and everyone knows that Spider-Man attends Midtown High, but now it feels like a badge of honor for the school. And with so many superdupers having gotten killed during ULTIMATUM, a mysterious "hero" in a red hood has taken up the slack and he's formidable, even though it's pretty obvious that this character is putting on a voice.
Bendis pulls a Drew Barrymore in SCREAM moment when a formerly recurring Big Bad crashes the party... only to crash right out again. Instead, the illusion-casting Mysterio is the featured villain in this arc, and he makes a damn good adversary, just check out the badasss mission statement he broadcasts on television.
More changes. Peter's romantic relationship gets an overhauling. Hint: MJ's out. Someone else is on the receiving end of Peter's mad arachnid smooches. And I've always dug the type of teenage soap opera Bendis injects in this title. Bendis stirs things up even more by having Aunt May decide to convert her Queens residence into a halfway home for homeless (super-powered) teens. Bendis, who writes snappy banter like you and I breathe air, had me smiling a lot as we meet the two boarders - and keep in mind that Gwen Stacy is already staying with the Parkers, and it's hard not to wonder just how Aunt May will be able to afford to feed all these young hungry mouths. I really hope that these new guests are now part of the regular cast, because what we have here is this irresistible blend of character dynamics, not to mention all the possibilities for forthcoming superhero team-ups. To quote Gwen: "It's like our own little Avengers Mansion."
Even when he's faltered at other titles, Bendis is still doing it right by Ultimate Spidey. As good as he's written Luke Cage and Jessica Jones, I think it's this Peter Parker whom Bendis really has a feel for. I'm really curious as to why MJ and Peter aren't together anymore. Just what the heck happened in those intervening six months? And I wonder, too, just how many more times Bendis is going to have Midtown High attacked by supervillains? It is becoming sort of clichéd.
Retooled series, ergo: new artist. I miss Stuart Immonen's art, I do. David LaFuente's manga-influenced style takes some getting used to, and what's up with Spidey's head being drawn all circly? The jury's still out on the new guy, but ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN was one of my favorite titles, so I'm willing to give him a chance to grow on me. I'll give him this, LaFuente certainly does justice to the frequently lighthearted moments in this fledgling series. Although, okay, his Spider-Slayer sure looks a lot like an infuriated traffic light.
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