It's a new ongoing series featuring the much talked-about new Spider-Man.
Credits & Solicit Info:
Ultimate Comics Spiderman #1 (JUL110605)
Written by BRIAN MICHAEL BENDIS
Penciled by SARA PICHELLI
Cover by KAARE ANDREWS (Cover will be POLYBAGGED)
Variant Cover by SARA PICHELLI
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There's been a lot of hay made by the comic book commenteratti about the Peter Paker'S replacement in Marvel's Ultimate Universe. Much of it has been about his race, as Marvel decided to go with a double-whammy of minority makeup: Miles Morales is half black and half Latino. Marvel's marketing has been trumpeting the change as start of new progressive era in comics as (a version of) their flagship character is now a brown dude. Some commentors aren't so happy about one of their favorite characters being sacrificed in favor of increased diversity.
It seems like the only person not thinking about any of this is Miles Morales himself. He's just a young kid trying to figure out his life. His are ecstatic about getting him in to charter school (via a lottery, which Miles notices doesn't seem fair, particularly to the kids who don't get in), figuring he now has a chance at great things and doesn't have to grow up the way they did. They're well-intentioned but a bit overbearing, and Miles acutely feels the weight of their expectations on his shoulders. A child's relationship with his or her parents is always a troubled one in comics, but here, rather than a neglectful or abusive family, Miles suffers from parents who are maybe a bit too attentive. Attending this charter school is the dream of Mr. and Mrs. Morales, but Miles isn't too excited. As a means of escape, he visits his uncle, who has his own troubles with the Morales family. Uncle Aaron is everything Miles' parents aren't, and that's really the attraction for Miles. It's a well-observed family dynamic, and it's given a lot of time and space by writer Brian Michael Bendis to play itself out.
That's Miles Morales the man (so to speak). We don't get to see much of Miles Morales the Spider-Man, as he gets his spider-powers pretty late in the issue. Sure enough, he does get them from a genetically-altered spider escaped from the Osborn labs, but that's about where the similarites to the previous Spider-Man end. In fact, the first time we see Miles' powers, he's displaying an ability Peter Parker never had. Giving new spider-powers to a new Spider-Man is a good way to hook in readers who are looking for something different out of the new guy. This story does tie in to what we've seen from the Ultimate Universe in the past, though. In addition to the Norman Osborne connection, Miles apparently has a familial connection to another pre-existing Ultimate character, which is a pretty unexpected development. Miles is a character you want to get to know, and there are enough plot mysteries to keep people curious.
Brian Bendis is really known for his character work, and he does a good job of it here. As he did with Peter Parker over a decade ago, Bendis devotes much of the page-space in Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #1 to establishing Miles Morales and the conflicts and relationships in his life before flipping the table on him with a redefined existence. First comes the family drama, then come the superhero pyrotechnics. In addition to the narrative mannerisms endemic to his writing, a Bendis comic can be spotted just by looking at the art. The distinctive way he thinks about page layout, particularly the double page spread, always comes through regardless of the penciller he's working with. Thus, it tends to be difficult to tell how much the look of any comic comes from Bendis' script and how much comes from the artist, in this case the talented Sara Pichelli. Still, it's easy to see that Pichelli's draftsmanship and figure work are refined and work very well. She does a great job with characters interacting with each other and their environments. Hopefully, as the collaboration with Bendis continues, she'll get to the point where she can show off a little more of her own artistic style and flourishes.
With the exception of the origin story involving Norman Osborne, it's clear the new Spider-Man doesn't tie in much with the life of Peter Parker. There's no checking in on how Aunt May or Mary Jane Watson are doing, or what J. Jonah Jameson is up to nowadays. It appears their story is over, and Marvel really is starting with a brand new Spider-Man in every way they can. Those characters will probably show up again down the line (they would have to have some reaction to a new Spider-Man swinging around), but going by this first issue, Miles Morales really is his own man, and it should be interesting to see how he navigates his new world. Miles Morales isn't Peter Parker, nor should he be. It's a pretty exciting time to get to know a new character in a comic from Marvel.
Review by: Royal Nonesuch