Brian Bendis is one of my favorite writers in comics. When I first started using the Marvel Unlimited app the first comics I started reading was Ultimate Spider-Man. Ultimate Spider-Man is the re-imagined story of Peter Parker. It was a perfect way for someone to enjoy Spider-Man comics without having to take a college course on the extensive back story of the character because everything was new again.
Ultimate Spider-Man, as well as other titles in the Ultimate line, had many years of success telling new stories with characters we love. But they decided to do something freaking amazing. They killed off Peter Parker. The last issue of Ultimate Comics Spider-Man with Peter Parker was heart breaking with Peter dying in the arms of Aunt May.
Which brings us to this title. When you’re on a roll you keep the story going. Brian did this by taking a young man named Miles Morales and turning him into the new Spider-Man.
As I have stated in previous reviews I think the goal of any comic that is telling a long form story, a story in multiple parts, is that each issue should be a self contained story that leaves enough to entice the reader to move on to the next issue. Obviously we live in a time where ever story out there needs a part three, four, seven hundred and what not but not every story does a good job in focusing on just the story they are telling. A lot of times they rely on assumption that the reader in question knows a whole lot about other comics for them to fully appreciate what is going on with this comic. Brian Bendis does a pretty masterful job of creating a story here that, while acknowledging the fact that this is back story, focusing the story on the main character and not having the actions of said character be affected by back story…yet.
Reading this issue I thought back to one of my favorite television shows Doctor Who. The show itself has been around since 1963 but from 1989 to 2005 there was no show. The BBC had produced a movie they had hoped would reignite the franchise that was shown on the Fox Network in 1996 (first mistake) that, while not horrible by any means, relied way too much on the audience knowing a lot of the character’s back story coming in which was just a disaster. If you knew nothing of Doctor Who, you were just lost.
In 2005 the BBC finally brought the show back and the first episode was the textbook way you start any form of storytelling that involves characters that have been around for a while. The genius of the first episode, Rose, was that the main focus throughout most of that episode was not on the main character of the Doctor but on Rose. They brought in back story only when it was relevant to do so. You dove into the deep end of the story with Rose without drowning in having to know what a Dalek was or what a Cyberman was. Pure genius.
Brian Bendis did the same with this story. You start with a couple pages of back story setting up that Norman Osborne is aware that he, through a spider in one of his laboratories, had a hand in the creation of the Peter Parker Spider-Man. You find out that there is a history here, there is much more story than the twenty pages of the comic in question will tell but it’s given to you in such a way that the story is not in any way reliant upon it. I loved it.
The intro to Miles Morales was great. You get a solid foundation of what this character is about from the first moment you see him. You see how he reacts with his family and get a sense of what he is like as a person in how he treats a family member that is not liked by his parents. You care for this character from pretty much the first moment you see him.
The artwork was pretty decent. It didn’t have the slightly outlandish look that some comics love to have these days. The characters look like actual people you may see on the streets, not a Japanese cartoonists version of what people would look like. (For the record, I have no issue with Manga or Japanese animation. I just prefer my comics to be drawn realistically, as if we are seeing a movie on the printed page.)
Story wise, the only thing I wish would could have had was at least a shot of a newspaper stating that Peter Parker, the original Spider-Man had passed away. I could see where it may have been a little confusing for the casual reader with no knowledge of the back story of this line of comics to know what was going on. A visual clue or something would have been nice.
The artwork again was solid. My only real complaint, and this is just nit picking at this point, was that the characters came across like they were plastic. Like the artist was drawing dolls performing the actions of the characters in this comic.
This is a wonderful story to dive into. You need no previous knowledge of the past of this comic line to enjoy it which a number of comics need to make note of. When writing something new like this set in a world of pre-established characters you have to walk a tightrope in terms of pleasing the folks who know of everything that is going on in this world as well as pleasing the average joe who is picking up an issue for the first time. Brian Bendis did a masterful job in this issue of doing that. So I will give the story a 10. I’m not saying it’s a classic in the realm of The Death of Superman or the origin of the original Spider-Man or anything like that. It gets a ten for writing a story that’s a good read on its own as well as enticing you to want to get to the next issue.
The artwork I’ll give an 8. Pretty solid work from the artist in this issue with no real complaint on my part unless I took a minute to nit pick. This had the look and feel of a real comic. For that I give it an 8.