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Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man vol 1 s/c

Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man vol 1 s/c back

Brian Michael Bendis & Sara Pichelli


Page 45 Review by Stephen

Sara Pichelli: she nails every single beat here.

Punchlines can be so easily blown by melodramatic posturing long worn into clichés after so many decades of men in tights, but Sara leaves you hanging on cliffs you've never quite seen before and at an angle where you can't help but admire the view. Better still, her young Miles Morales is an essay in understated anxiety, self-doubt and being struck dumb. There's one page where you can see so clearly that Miles is having enormous difficulty processing some news, his mouth so slightly agape, and a conversation between Miles and his Dad in the park where Miles asks awkward questions - his lips bunched up, his head slightly cowed, eyes looking up from under a furrowed brow - so evidently unsure as to whether we will like the answers. These aren't talking heads, these are working minds, Miles' Dad measuring his words carefully, struggling for an honest expression of his shame, his remorse, and an equally honest explanation for his actions.

"When we were kids we didn't have - We didn't see any other opportunity coming our way. Not saying we didn't have other opportunities… I'm saying we couldn't see them."

It's an exceptional conversation which will resonate later on.

So here we are: ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN series three and such a fresh start for which Bendis has built a brand new environment and populated with people you will care for immediately. The last series culminated in the death of Peter Parker, but cunningly (and crucially) this kicks off some several months earlier. I have no intention of giving anything away about the mechanics of this book - how Morales comes to inherit powers like Parker's - you'll just have to trust me when I say it makes sense. What I can promise you too is a great many familiar faces, a tumble of surprises I've left completely intact and a satisfying mesh with the events in THE DEATH OF SPIDER-MAN.

For me what's fascinating and very well played is the friendship between Miles and Ganke, a resourceful young optimist with a passion for Lego and an unusually selfless ability to revel in the good fortunes of others. Because without him Miles would be lost. He's terrified of his new abilities and their implications for his life in a country which incarcerates mutants regardless of crimes committed. I love the way he struggles to comprehend and express his condition while Ganke grows hugely excited. Obviously there's a journey involved. So what happens to persuade Miles to bite the bullet and give it a go? How will the population react to a new boy in costume once Peter is dead, murdered so publicly while trying to protect his family? How will Peter's nearest and dearest react? Nick Fury? Peter's female clone?! Oh yes, and what's with the costume, eh?

Love Miles' family, most intrigued to find out what his Uncle was really after (and secured), and I think it's hilarious that Bendis has given himself (and Miles) an additional difficulty in keeping his secret life safe in that he's sent him to a boarding school with shared dormitories!

Tip of the hat to Kaare Andrews for so many splendid covers, and also a quick warning. Brace yourself for this to end 30-odd pages before the back of the book. So often these days Marvel is packing its collected editions with stuff at the back including lead-ins here from DEATH OF SPIDER-MAN FALLOUT to advertise the new series of ULTIMATE COMICS: X-MEN and ULTIMATE COMICS: ULTIMATES.

"Told you Spider-Man was black."