Comics / Comic Reviews / Marvel Comics

Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man #3

By Zak Edwards
October 12, 2011 - 21:09

I just had a friend text me about the new Ultimate Spider-Man, literally as I've begun to write this article, asking if it’s “worthwhile.”  It was a strange moment, after thinking about the issue and putting some ideas down, my friend basically asked me to condense this article into 160 characters or less.  My response? “Mediocre. I mean, it’s good but almost a completely different story, but the exact same.”  And this is how I still feel about this book.  On every level, from characterization to pacing to dialogue, the book is well-executed, not to mention Sara Pichelli’s continually amazing art, but I feel I’ve read it before and find myself not having a very strong reaction with anything presented to me.

Writer Brian Michael Bendis continues his story of Miles Morales, the protagonist to replace Peter Parker as the titular character, with a strong supporting cast and a story that seems extremely reminiscent of a whole bunch of other early Spider-Man works I’ve read or seen.  The issue has a continuation of the friend finding out (like Ultimate Spider-Man #13) and a fire for Spider-Man to test out their abilities by saving some stranded people.  I’ve read these scenarios before, seen them in movies and television show, so why does Bendis, knowing people are probably going to be very familiar with these scenarios, insist on such blatant recycling?  It makes the story feel old, even if the elements in the story remain strong.  Bendis’ new cast, especially Miles’ friend Ganke, are genuinely interesting and rounded.  Ganke’s excitement and enthusiasm is tempered by Miles’ quiet demeanor, a contrast that Bendis uses to depict more of Miles’ character than if he was simply giving a soliloquy.  Using characters to relate this information is a true sign of good writing, and Bendis, when he’s on, is exactly this.  Their dynamic also makes Miles’ vomiting after the fire much more potent of a reaction, Miles’ fear and inner world is exposed more brightly because of Ganke in ways other than direct conversation.  Overall, the issue is strong, but recycled, and the latter makes the story much more difficult to enjoy.

As with the other issues, Sara Pichelli’s art wins me every time.  I briefly debated just leaving this book on the shelf this week, but then I made the mistake of opening it up and, after a single glimpse of Ganke’s awesome Howard the Duck shirt, my bill went up by four dollars.  Her energetic and expressive style continues to convey so much in wonderful ways.  Her characters never become melodramatic, all of them remaining very grounded in how they react to the situations.  I am confused, however, on the ages these characters are supposed to be.  Miles looks the age he’s supposed to, the thirteen mark, as does Ganke, but their new roommate Judge looks much, much older, making the brief discussion about Lego much more confusing than entertaining.  The characters either act inconsistent for their age or look older than they are.  Both detract from a book otherwise filled with wonderful and wonderful looking characters.

Grade: B    I still can’t seem to justify this book as being great, even if technically it is.

Last Updated: August 31, 2023 - 08:12

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