After spending 10 years as the main character of Ultimate Spider-Man, Peter Parker died bravely protecting his family and friends from his worst enemies earlier this year. Last month we were introduced to Miles Morales, the new Ultimate Universe’s Spider-Man, a 13 year-old boy of African and Latino descent in Ultimate Fallout #4. Though some news media outlets seem to believe they made him a minority just for the sake of being a minority, Brian Michael Bendis has a greater plan for Morales which begins in this month’s #1. This issue is set before his appearance in Ultimate Fallout #4, showing his origin and how he will be set on his path to become the new Spider-Man.
When Death of Spider-Man was first teased, I blew it off and rationalized that they couldn’t kill him. They would just have someone else take his place under the mask and it would be good ol’ Parker back within a few months. Once the news came that he was actually going to die, I realized that Marvel was finally using the Ultimate Universe as what it was always supposed to be: a place where they could tell stories they couldn’t in the main Marvel Universe. It seemed like no one could replace Ultimate Peter Parker but Bendis has already proven me wrong in this one issue.
Bendis comes full circle in the opening of the book, starting with the same monologue from the first issue of Ultimate Spider-Man ten years ago. As the book progresses we quickly meet Miles’ supporting cast in the form of his mother and father as well as his uncle, the concept of an Uncle Ben experience seems to be lingering here. There is a chance that we’ve met the first villain he has to face, which could very well put Morales in a compromising position right out of the gate.
He does a wonderful job developing Morales’ character with the short time we’re exposed to him. Although he’s 13, we’re shown that he’s aware of the plight of other children during the lottery that takes place and empathizes with them. Within the next few issues there is definitely going to be a scene in which he witnesses Peter doing something heroic as Spider-Man that will inspire him to use his powers for good. The most intriguing aspect of this issue is the discovery of his first power, one that Peter never manifested. It should be fun to see how he incorporates this power into his career as Spider-Man.
Sara Pichelli worked on Ultimate Comics Spider-Man before the relaunch and has stepped up her game since then. It’s no surprise that she’s a rising star at Marvel right now, her grasp on expressions and body language give the characters depth. Her Norman Osborn comes off as professional and intelligent in his initial appearance but Pichelli hints at his insanity and blood lust using nothing but his eyes and his smile. One of the best scenes in the book is the exchange between Morales’ father and his uncle. The tension can easily be seen from the dialogue but it’s strengthened by his father’s look of concern for his son and his uncle’s provoking stance.
Character models aren’t the only thing Pichelli excels at though. The details packed into every page are absolutely astounding. From the skylines to the graffiti spread across the buildings to the masses walking the very streets, Pichelli captures the very essence of New York. The complexity of New York normally makes this a daunting task but Pichelli pulls it off with relative ease.
Ultimate Spider-Man is very special to me, it was the comic that started my addiction. I remember walking into my local comic book shop, Royal Collectibles, and seeing the cover to issue #54. Inexplicably, it drew me in and at that moment Bendis and Bagley had me. From then on I picked it up religiously and aside from a few arcs here and there (I’m looking at you Wolverine and Peter body swap two parter) it hasn’t disappointed me yet.
Ultimate Spider-Man has been the mainstay of the Ultimate Universe since it’s inception and it looks like that will continue to be the case. We can only hope Bendis and Pichelli will keep up the quality of this series as time passes. Hopefully we’ll see a similar 111+ issue streak from these two because they compliment each other exquisitely.
WRITING: 5 / ART: 5 / OVERALL: 5