It's the first appearance of the new Ultimate Spider-Man! It's been controversial, but is the comic actually any good?
Credits & Solicit Info:
Ultimate Fallout #4(of 6)
Written by Brian Michael Bendis, Jonathan Hickman and Nick Spencer
Artwork by Sara Pichelli, Salvador Larroca and Clayton Crain
I think it's safe to say that the Ultimate Universe is in a bit of a state of flux at the moment. The Ultimates and The Avengers have been ripped apart through in-fighting, Nick Fury is back, the Mutants are being hunted and most importantly, Peter Parker, AKA Spider-Man is dead.
So far, the weekly Ultimate Fallout mini-series has done a fantastic job of getting across the current state of the Ultimate Universe, and setting us up for the coming relaunch, the first issue in particular was a genuine tear-jerker and one of the most emotional comics I've ever read (yes, that's ever).
But the mourning can't last forever, and it's time for the Ultimate Universe to begin moving on, and for a new Spider-Man to arrive on the scene. You've all read about it, and heard the controversy about how this new Spidey, Miles Morales, is of black and latino heritage (or blatino if you're lazy or have a broken keyboard). This has caused much dispiriting gnashing of teeth and accusations of tokenism or reverse-racism or whatever, but on the basis of this short debut scene, Miles seems like a genuine Spider-Man to me. In what is mainly a fight scene with the villainous Kangaroo, Miles demonstrates what makes him similar and what makes him different to Peter Parker. He seems a bit less sure of himself, but still with a sense of humour. It was interesting to see him be unsure of his powers, and not be sure exactly what that buzzing in the back of his head is. Overall, it was a pretty solid debut for Miles, and I appreciated the running commentary that his costume was in bad taste. The artwork from Sara Pichelli was very strong, mixing the best of both David LaFuente and Stuart Immonen's runs on Ultimate Spider-Man to great effect. I can't wait to see her art develop in the new series, and to see who Miles is and how he came to have Spider-Powers.
Oh, for those of you who complained about Marvel pimping this to the press, it kind of had to be done, as this story doesn't even mention Miles' name, if Marvel had not been all over the media, we'd just think the new Spidey was some random kid with no name.
In all the hoopla over Spider-Man, it's been easy to forget that this issue has 2 more stories. The first is from Jonathan Hickman, and focusses on Ultimate Reed Richards, who in the aftermath of Bendis' Ultimate Doomsday trilogy is now a villain, and left floating in the Negative Zone. This story contains the usual Hickman-speak, which is a real love it or hate it deal, but most interestingly, it ties in with the work Hickman has been doing with the Marvel Universe Reed Richards. Just like that Reed, this one plans to 'Solve Everything'. I got a real chill down my spine when I read those lines, as I'm sure things will work out very differently for Evil Ultimate Reed than they did for the good Reed Richards. The art for this story came from Salvador Larroca, and whilst it was weird to see him away from Iron Man for once, did his usual excellent job.
The third and final story is Nick Spencer, the man who will be in charge of the Ultimate X-Men post-relaunch. The story follows Valerie Cooper, as she meets a journalist friend for coffee. Spencer is becoming a master of conversational scenes it seems, and this one is gripping, even if at first it appears to be about nothing more than Ice Cream. Spencer is picking up on one of my favourite plotlines from the Ultimate Universe, and one that really separates this line from the main one, in the fact that Mutants were in actual fact created by the US Government. Bendis introduced this in Ultimate Origin, but it wasn't really picked up on. Now that the truth is going to be out there, it sets up some tantalising stuff for Spencer's new book. Ultimate X-Men is probably the series which was the most inconsistent and went the most off the boil, so Spencer has a job on rebooting it, but on the basis of this story, I think he'll do well. Clayton Crain may not be the obvious choice for a story that is pretty much all dialogue, his rich, stylised art could be a distraction, but it works, and the colours he uses on the last page are suitably forboding. It's not what I necessarily want to see from Crain, but it's good to know he can do it.
This was another good issue of Ultimate Fallout, and one that lives up to all the publicity around it. It's just a shame that so much of the media attention has been focussed on the race of the new Spider-Man, and not on the quality of the comic itself.
Review by: Niam Suggitt