Can I trouble you for a glass of warm of milk? Anybody guess what movie I was watching when I wrote this review? Feels like it’s been ages since I put a review up here, but have no fear, here’s the latest issue of Ultimate Spider-Man. And you’re in luck cause I have the latest New Avengers review coming up this weekend as well. Now, normally I’m not one to shamelessly plug my own side projects, but in case anyone cares what I’ve been up to in the past month, I’ll direct you to a new podcast that Nathaniel Collins (the new Avenging Spider-Man reviewer) and I are putting together. The Mixed Marvel Arts Podcast focuses on all forms of entertainment that come out of the House of Ideas, from comics and video games, to movies and television. Anybody who enjoyed our Ultimate Death of Spider-Man review is welcome to check out our first two recordings here or here, and hey if you like what you hear, feel free to subscribe via iTunes here. Okay, plug over, enjoy the review!
Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man #4
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Sara Pichelli
Colors: Justin Ponsor
Lettering: VC’s Cory Petit
Cover: Kaare Andrews
Plot: The students of the Brooklyn Visions Academy are gathered in the school gymnasium as a battle rages on in the middle of Queens with the life of Spider-Man hanging in the balance. Miles tells Ganke to cover for him so Miles can slip away and go to Spider-Man’s rescue. Miles arrives in time to see Spider-Man finish his battle with the Green Goblin and is part of the crowd as Spidey dies.
Back in his dormitory, Miles fills Ganke in on what he witnessed. Miles blames himself for Spider-Man’s death saying that he should have been there to help instead of hiding his powers. Instead, Ganke suggests that maybe Miles gained his powers to take over for the fallen hero. Later, the two friends attend Peter Parker’s funeral. Miles calls out to Gwen Stacy and asks her why Peter became Spider-Man. Gwen explains the history of Uncle Ben and the lesson he taught Peter – that great power brings great responsibility.
Inspired by Peter’s heroics and sacrifice as a costumed hero, Miles decides to become the next Spider-Man. Ganke provides his friend with an old Spider-Man Halloween costume and Miles sets out in his baggy outfit for his first rooftop adventure as the new Spider-Man. It’s not long until Miles is confronted by his first challenge, a battle with a criminal called the Kangaroo. Things don’t go as well as Miles planned and he is lambasted in the Daily Bugle the following day for the tasteless impersonation of Spider-Man.
Miles is still in the makeshift costume while talking with Ganke in their room. Their roommate, Judge, returns to find a locked door and roommates behaving in a suspicious manner. A teacher comes by to remind Ganke and Miles that locked doors are against school policy. Miles is in his bed with the covers pulled up to his chin and Judge asks what his deal is. Miles thinks to himself that he needs to come up with a better system. The next time he ventures out in costume, Miles is questioning the buzzing sensation in his head when he is attacked by Spider-Woman. She stands over Miles and asks him just who he thinks he is.
Doin’ the Bull Dance. Feelin’ the flow: The best part of this reboot remains the fantastic work of Pichelli and Ponsor. I’ve read a lot about how well Pichelli handles the facial features of her characters and she once again nails that aspect of the art. In the beginning of the issue, when the students are told the news about Spider-Man, the wide-eyed look on Miles’ face sells his shocked emotions perfectly. Again, later in the issue when Miles is beating himself up over Peter’s death, you can tell just how pained he feels for his lack of action.
Another one of Pichelli’s strengths lies in her ability to draw wardrobes. I loved the red and blue jacket Miles wore in the beginning when he snuck away from the school, and Ponsor should be credited as well for giving the jacket the spidey color scheme. I also liked the attention to detail in that she made the Halloween costume not fit Miles perfectly, especially since it was worn by his heavier friend Ganke in the past so it should have been a bit stretched out. Showing Miles sketch a very rough draft of the new Ultimate Spider-Man costume was a nice touch as well, instead of having him draw a perfect, professional-looking drawing.
The other highlight of this issue was seeing the events that transpired during the Death of Spider-Man story and the Ultimate Fallout mini from Miles’ point of view. It was a nice way to recap those stories for any new readers or anyone who just didn’t pick up those issues. The way it was handled made you really feel like you were just another person in the crowd with no relation to the Peter Parker supporting cast. It was also nice to see people in the crowd crying.
The only problem I had with these recap scenes, which were basically a panel-for-panel recreation of Bagley’s work in the former comics, was that Mary Jane was wearing a different outfit. If Pichelli was going to make the effort to copy the fight scene so closely, why not make sure the clothes being worn by the characters are the same?
The price is wrong, Bob: I was really glad to see Miles get out of the school to go witness the fall of Peter Parker. One of my problems in the last issue was the thought that Miles wasn’t going to be anywhere around when Peter died. But the problem is I am still not sold on the idea that this event would have that great of an effect on Miles. It seems like a big Spider-Man-sized leap that Miles would blame himself for Peter’s death. Because of this, the story continues to feel a bit too forced, like the spider bite that resulted in Miles gaining his powers.
One of my biggest problems with Bendis’ writing is his constant use of censored swear words. I don’t mind swearing in general, but censoring it just draws attention to it and derails my reading. It’s like watching an R-rated movie on basic cable and hearing the sound drop out whenever a character swears. It’s jarring to hear, but it’s even worse when it’s in print, for example, when Gwen says Peter wore a mask because it “looked @#$@ cool.” I don’t need these teenagers and superheroes running around cursing as much as they do.
It ain’t over, McGavin. The way I see it… we’ve only just begun: I’m glad we’re finally getting into the Spider-Man phase of Miles’ story. I especially like how he’s starting to talk to himself with the use of narration boxes. However, I still don’t see a lot of different angles in Miles’ story compared to Peter’s story, which still makes the reboot seem unnecessary in my eyes. I like how the Peter Parker supporting cast, like Spider-Woman, start popping up though, and seeing how they interact with this new Spider-Man. Like me, they seem a bit skeptical.
Rating: Good, art and story. Meh, characterization and writing. Poor, action. 3.5/5 Hole in Ones