Comics / Comic Reviews / Marvel Comics

Ultimate Comics: All-New Spider-Man #1

By Zak Edwards
September 14, 2011 - 17:27

Here it is, after six issues of Ultimate Fallout which was almost entirely a complete waste of time, we have the debut of another Ultimate Spider-Man #1, complete with white plastic case, which seems to be all the rage at Marvel Comics right now.  Inside, complete with a surprise cover (maybe, not for me), we have the quick origin story of Miles Morales, the controversial new Ultimate Spider-Man after the death of Peter Parker.  Peter’s death, while drawn out and completely unnecessary given the quality of story being told, has happened and I am fully willing to give writer Brian Michael Bendis the benefit of the doubt in this drastic maneuver.  So what’s next now that Mr. Parker is buried?  Well, I cant say a lot so far.

Protagonist and new Spider-Man Miles Morales is, at this point, much like Peter Parker in temperament.  He is a shy, confused kid, wonderful, but, and this is my biggest problem with this issue, we don’t get to see much of anything.  Lots appears to happen, but nothing is really done other than establish a new book.  Coupled with a complete lack of the supporting cast of the original, I feel like I’m reading an entirely different book that I have no connection to, except some sort of implied continuity issue.  Maybe this is intentional or maybe this is just how comic readers feel, especially in the wake of the DC reboot, but I find myself wanting things not present.  Besides Norman Osbourne showing up at the beginning, there is nothing familiar, no point of entry for those who have followed this book for a decade.  And for that, this book is disappointing.

But there is merit in its own right.  The book reads very much like an Ultimate Spider-Man book, with Bendis’ writing style, now far and away from his days of noir inspired crime books, has characters that instantly establish themselves and their relationships.  Miles’ father and their dynamic is both funny and heartwarming, as is the depiction of his excitable and clingy mother.  Obviously the stand-out character is Miles’ Uncle Aaron, who is far more interesting than the protagonist and leads a double-life as a Deadpool inspired super-thief.  Miles and Aaron’s forbidden relationship is interesting, as the young Miles seeks guidance from a character with a hidden agenda and dubious past, rather than his much more obviously stable father.  And in this relationship readers can see the little differences between Peter and Miles.  Miles lives in a world of adults.  His relationships are exclusively with adults in this issue and his alienation from other kids can be felt in the lottery scene.  He is pushed by his parents and seeks respite in his crazy uncle, not friends or peers that would be more readily available for a normal teen.  There are no kids and that has me worried.  Ultimate Spider-Man was a book about kids and adults, this seems to be ignoring the former.  Maybe this will change, it certainly has the chance to.  Bendis has laid the groundwork, but I remain unconvinced.  But worst case scenario, Ultimate Spider-Man starring Peter Parker was an achievement and I can always just go back to that.

Artist Sara Pichelli seems to only get better every time I come across her work.  Her art is energetic and fun and reads extremely easily, her paneling propelling the story with ease.  She knows when to make a reader pause, even slightly, with subtle techniques with her art and keeps the double-spread storytelling original artist Mark Bagley made popular in the book.  Certainly her paneling, as well as her previous stint on the book, links this new volume to the old, and was a good choice in this capacity alone.  But what really stands out in Pichelli’s work is her expressions.  With a style that is so energetic, Pichelli manages to pull of very complex facial expressions without becoming hyperbolic.  Characters have subtle expressions that are both convincing and not distracting, conveying so much in what amounts to very little.  Bendis’ confidence in this ability is obvious, and he lets Pichelli tell the story without overly relying on dialogue.  Overall Pichelli’s art is the best of the book, if the rest is leaving me feeling worried.

Grade: C+        Not much here and certainly needs to do something to make me care.

Last Updated: August 31, 2023 - 08:12

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