Miles Morales: The Ultimate Spider-Man #1

MM Spiderman

Summary:

http://marvel.wikia.com/wiki/Miles_Morales:_Ultimate_Spider-Man_Vol_1_1

The Good:

One of the great achievements in comics the past twenty years has been the Ultimates line of comics from Marvel. Realizing that the average consumer found themselves in a bit of a quandary due to the fact that despite their knowledge and love of a particular character, they found themselves not really knowing where to start reading a comic because there was simply such a large backstory for each and every character out there. The sheer volume of work on Spider-Man alone, on top of the fact that Spider-Man had multiple comics running at once with stories about him, kept the average person from diving into the comics they might otherwise enjoy. Instead of making a complete overhaul of their comics and starting over, they did the smart thing. They allowed Brian Bendis to essentially recreate the characters. While they may look and sound the same, there was enough of a change to invite new readers to enjoy the comics.

This comic is a continuation of the Ultimates story involving Spider-Man. By this point someone else has donned the mantle of Spider-Man due to the brave choice of having Peter Parker be killed off. (Stan Lee would NEVER have been so brave back in the day.) A young boy by the name of Miles Morales takes on the mantle of Spider-Man. This picks up after Spider-Man and the Ultimates have destroyed Galactus. Miles is living with his friend because his father left town after Miles revealed he was Spider-Man.

I’ve read the entire Ultimate Spider-Man line of comics to this point. In regards to back story, when they mention an event or character from the past, I know who they’re talking about. What I love about this comic though is that they seamlessly weave in that back story without it being a crutch to you as the reader. You’re not punished if you do not know absolutely everything that is going on.

I love how Miles has a support system of friends and family of Peter Parker to rely upon if he is unsure on what to do next. The big focus of this particular issue is Miles questioning himself as to whether he should reveal to his girlfriend that he is Spider-Man. Who else to ask whether that is a wise decision than a young lady who would probably know more about being a girl in that situation than anyone else, Miss Mary Jane Watson. While she certainly encourages Miles to tell his girlfriend, she also cautions him that a secret of this nature is not one given out lightly. She tells him to think about whether this could be a simple crush or something more because a secret of this nature will bind people together for life. Even after Peter Parker’s death, Mary Jane is still bound to Peter and doing her best to honor his legacy.

There are two big reveals in this story, both involving characters long believed dead in the Ultimates universe. The first is Norman Osbourne, the Green Goblin. It is revealed that SHIELD, after Galactus has been defeated, has been disbanded. One little secret Nick Fury had was the fact that Norman Osbourne was alive and well. We don’t know much more than the fact that he lives and escapes. He’s also crazy as fuck, much more so than the Norman Osbourne in the regular Spider-Man line of comics which is great.

The second big reveal is a bit of a shocker. It’s only on the last page of the comic but after starting with issue 1 of Ultimate Spider-Man and getting to this point, seeing that this person who we thought was dead turns out to be alive (Maybe. After all, it is a comic.) is quite the shocker. That person is Peter Parker. As to what the hell is going on I don’t know yet. I’m definitely intrigued and after I write this review I’m reading issue two in order to find out what is going on.

The artwork is as solid as ever. One thing the Ultimate line has got right is the art. It’s not sloppy in the least and evokes the Golden Age of comics past with a bit of a spit shined, modern look to it. Characters emotions flow from each line on the page. Another beautiful marriage of art and words that only comics can bring you.

The Bad:

I’m playing devil’s advocate with this one here but I still think I’m right. As an avid fan of the Ultimate Comics brand I’m quite knowledgeable as to what is going on in the universe that Mr. Bendis has created. What I can see happening though is some of the overwhelming back story that this line of comics was meant to alleviate. We’re expected to know a LOT of what is going on up to this point. While this is a continuation of the Miles Morales story this is the first issue in a new comic line so I think it would have been wise for them to not necessarily start over but create a story that essentially reintroduces you to this world. A new reader may not know that Miles’ father left town after Miles revealed that he was Spider-Man. They might not know who the hell his girlfriend is. They might not know who the hell his friend is and why he’s so goofy. A comic like this has to walk the fine line between pleasing long time fans like myself and fans who may be starting their journey in this universe with this issue. In this case I think the story did more to please people like me and I can see that as a bit of a hindrance.

Bottom Line:

The Ultimate line of comics is a great place to dive into the deep end of the Marvel Universe. The movies themselves have cribbed a LOT from this line of comics so if you’re looking to get a bit of a heads up as to where the movies may be heading next, what better place to start than here. I also love that these comics take some pretty daring chances. I mean, they could have easily kept Peter Parker alive and not introduced Miles Morales at all and still have had a successful run of comics. They chose the brave option and we the reader are better off for it. While I do think more effort could have been made to ease in the reader who may be starting their journey with this issue this should still be mandatory reading for comic fans. I give the story a 9.

The art is well done here. When someone is able to make the words of a story mean more by their artwork you know you have a master artist on your hands. Comics are a collaborative medium. It doesn’t matter much if the art is good if the words suck and vice versa. In this case the art pulls you into the story just as much as the words. I give the art an 8.

Ultimate Comics Spider-Man Volume 2 #1

Ultimate-Comics-Spider-Man_1

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.

Summary:

http://marvel.wikia.com/wiki/Ultimate_Comics_Spider-Man_Vol_2_1

The Good:

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.)

The Bad:

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.

Bottom Line:

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.