Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #3 - Untitled - Bendis, Pichelli and Ponsor
Story - Ultimate Peter Parker is dead. A character many of us have followed and empathised with for 10 years is dead, and he's been replaced by some random new kid nobody has ever heard of. Who the hell cares about Miles Morales?
This is the problem Brian Michael Bendis is facing writing the adventures of the new Ultimate Spider-Man. Peter Parker is a beloved icon, whereas Miles is a total unknown, he has to make us like Miles as much as we liked Peter. It's a tough job, but I personally feel he's succeeding. He's taking a fairly slow pace and showing how Miles is both similar and different to Peter.
I've noticed some readers have a problem with the slow pace to this origin arc, Miles has not got a costume yet, he's not done much at all, but this is necessary. Ultimate Peter Parker's origins were slow, it took 7 issues to tell what Stan Lee and Steve Ditko managed in 15 pages. This meant that we knew Peter a lot better, we knew and cared about Uncle Ben before he got shot, it was a more immersive and effective experience. The same thing is being done with Miles. Not only are we getting an insight into Miles' nature and character without the distraction of having him fight the Jack O'Lantern, but we're seeing his family and friends in greater detail too. This issue focuses on Miles and his best friend (and the only person who knows about his new Spidery powers) Ganke, as they try and work out what exactly has happened to Miles. This leads to a highly enjoyable conversation between the two, including a discussion about Ganke's favourite topic, Lego. Ganke is a really fun character and a great foil for the more cautious and quiet Miles, let's just hope he doesn't become a super-villain like Peter Parker's best friend Harry Osborn.
We then get the book's first major action sequence, as Miles rescues some people from a burning villain. This is classic Spider-Man stuff, iconic Spider-Manning, but Bendis makes it clear that Miles' attitude towards this is not the same as Peter Parker's, he's not cracking wise, he takes this a little more seriously, and at the end, decides he can't do it anymore, he's going to leave it to the 'real' Spider-Man.
But of course the real Spider-Man is going to die soon.
Bendis also sets up Miles' new home and status quo, rather than living with his Aunt, he's attending some kind of weird alternative boarding school. This is a cool idea, it's certainly going to be harder for Miles to go out on superhero patrols if he's under the scrutiny of a boarding school.
Miles is sleeping in this school on the night Peter Parker is killed, and it's this bit that intrigues me the most. In what I thought at first was a dream sequence, Miles sees Electro shouting 'die Spider-Man' and electrocuting him. At first glance this is just Miles' anxiety about being bitten by a Spider, but then you think back to the 'Death Of Spider-Man' arc. Electro was present at Peter's final battle. Is Miles seeing what Peter's seeing? Is this some kind of link between their Spider-Senses? We've already seen that Miles has some powers that Peter didn't, such as camouflage and shock powers, and I think this is another example. Bendis shows us this, rather than tells us, and it's very effective indeed.
This issue ends with Miles and Ganke finding out that Spider-Man has been shot, and it's a great cliffhanger to a great issue. Yes, the book is slow, but Ultimate Spider-Man has always moved at it's own pace, yes, we're all impatient to see what Miles can do as Spider-Man, but it's worth it to see him just be him first, so we know him as a character. After 3 issues I already like Miles a lot, and can't wait to see what's coming for the character. He's not Peter Parker, he's his own character, and he's great.
Art - Sara Pichelli has been hovering around the world of Ultimate Spider-Man for a while now, he illustrated a few issues of the last arc, including a great arc involving Mysterio and Black Cat fighting over the Zodica Key, her work was solid then, but with this new relaunch, it's taken a leap to the next level. This stuff is just awesome, it's like a cross between Stuart Immonen and David LaFuente, which is obviously perfect for Ultimate Spider-Man. It manages to be both realistic and cartoony at the same time, and you can read a lot from the facial expressions she draws. It's just excellent, and I can't wait to see her cut loose when Miles is Spider-Man properly, swinging around town, getting into fights.
Best Line - 'Spider-Man has been shot'