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Ultimate Comics Spider-Man, Vol. 1 Paperback – August 29, 2012
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Top Customer Reviews
Brian Michael Bendis has been up and down in his stint at writing them various Avengers titles. But I think he was born to write Spider-Man, or at least the Ultimate versions of him. But if you were anticipating a fresh new origin for this webspinner (who, by the way, has yet to spin webs), you'd be not right, sir.
This is another instance of the media and the Internet letting the cat out of the bag, thus depriving the readers that awesome "What the--?!" moment when the comic book actually does unveil its big reveal. It's a controversial decision, I guess, opting to have a minority character fill in the shoes of Marvel's flagship superhero. Except that Bendis writes Miles Morales so well and so sensitively that you're immediately drawn to the kid.
Miles Morales is half-Latin, half-black. Bendis, without making a big deal of it, is able to express the challenges posed to a minority family. Miles has a good heart. When he wins the academic lottery and is selected to a prestigious charter school, he feels awful for the kids whose names weren't called. Miles' parents are loving people, and yet there's deep dissension between Miles' father and his cool but shady uncle, his uncle who happens to be a halfway recognizable minor villain in Spidey lore. It's in his uncle's apartment that Miles is bitten by a runaway genetically-mutated spider.
Bendis' slow burn decompression style works perfectly in this introductory arc. He takes the time to develop Miles, and we're rewarded with a marvelously three-dimensional fledgling hero. The parallels between Peter Parker and Miles are obvious. Both are sensitive and shy. And while Peter seems to have Miles beat in the I.Q. department, it's both in their DNA to do the right thing. And, in costume, the snark comes out from both. Miles seems to doubt himself more (his best friend, Ganke, is more excited at Miles' having gained powers than Miles himself). Where Miles and Peter clearly differentiate lies more in the area of their fighting prowess and power sets. Miles' arachnid attributes don't quite mimic Peter's. Bendis presents a neat swerve or two...
This volume delivers moments which are extremely moving. As a tremendous fan of Peter, I appreciate Bendis' attempts to integrate Miles into Peter's world to some measure. In a sequence that unfolds organically, Miles, already spider-bit, witnesses Peter's last stand from afar and is compelled to know more about his predecessor. At Peter's massively attended funeral, there's an emotional scene in which Miles is made privy to Uncle Ben's mantra. Bendis gives us a telling and emotional exchange between Miles and Gwen, with Gwen pretty much breaking down the sum of Peter Parker. She ends up with the last word and draws a smile from me.
- Miles: "Why'd he wear a mask though?"
- Gwen: "Because he didn't need anyone to know who he was to be a hero. And it looked @#$@ cool."
That's Bendis and his knack for character dialogue.
Based on how artist Sara Pichelli is simply killing it in these pages, I need to reevaluate her stuff in the PIXIE STRIKES BACK mini-series. Sara Pichelli's art is amazing here, and how she depicts Miles Morales plays a big factor in making him such an appealing character. It's not the easiest thing, being able to draw kids convincingly. John Byrne never could do it. Pichelli makes it look effortless. Her graceful lines flow with dynamism, whether during the big fighty fights or during those inescapable talking head panels. She draws the best facial expressions...
I think Bendis means to stick with Miles Morales. This doesn't feel like a gimmick, like a marketing ploy. His writing is too good. It feels like he's so invested in this. I miss Ultimate Peter Parker. But I'm looking forward to following this new and untested wallcrawler as he strives to live up to Peter's legacy. And his Spidey suit looks really cool.
ULTIMATE COMICS SPIDER-MAN Vol. 1 collects issues #1-5, plus ULTIMATE COMICS FALLOUT #4. ULTIMATE COMICS FALLOUT #4 is an anthology issue which contains the lead story featuring Miles' first appearance (except that this segment - which has Miles tangling with Kangaroo - is also incorporated in ULTIMATE COMICS SPIDER-MAN #4). Since I haven't kept up with any Ultimate title but this one, I don't really know what's going on with the other two stories. The second story focuses on Ultimate Reed Richards who apparently has turned eeeeevil. The third story features a lunch conversation between two women (one of them Valerie Cooper) which apparently leads to a media exposé accusing the American government of having created mutants. Except I don't really care.
It's fantastic series. There are a number of excellent writers in comics today (Bendis, Brubaker, Vaughn, Willingham, Kirkman, Cook, Sacco, Layman, Matt, and Lemaire), but very few of them write wonderful stories about traditional Marvel or DC heroes. The only mainstream superhero comic that has been consistently brilliant is Ultimate Spiderman (Kirkman's Invincible is the other exemplary superhero book, but it's made for Image Comics). Miles, like Peter before him, is a great kid. He wants to do the right thing. He's confused, and only has a few people that he can talk to and rely on. His father hates superheroes, his mother just wants him to make it, and his best friend is a chubby fat kid who tells him how awesome it is that he is Spiderman (I'm painting him poorly -- his friend is smart and supportive).
In this volume, Miles has to fight the Prowler, who is also his Uncle Aaron, whom he has always liked and looked up to. In an amazing scene, he meets May Parker and Gwen Stacy and they talk about Peter and what Miles is trying to do with his legacy. He also stands up to and then fights with Captain America and the Ultimates. All the while, Bendis writes wonderful dialogue, keeps the story moving and has all of his characters act rationally. It's such a rare feat.
I hope he keeps writing this book for another 20 years.