A different time period, in a New York far, far away… Miles Morales was engaged in a clone war. See what I did there? The wordplay is strong with this one. As you can tell I have Star Wars on the brain, that’s because BioWare’s great MMO dropped last week and when my free time has allowed it, I’ve been spending lots of time leveling up my Sith Sorceror. Electro ain’t got nothin’ on my force lightening. Pretty, pretty fun. But anyway, this is about Miles Morales. We wrap up his origin story with this issue and a couple of people aren’t too happy with the new guise he has been sporting. Read on to find out who. (Shameless plug time: Anyone who is interested in hearing Nate, Shaun and I cover the recent events of the Ultimate Universe since the death of Spider-Man, make sure to check out episode 4 of our Mixed Marvel Arts podcast here.)
Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man #5
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Sara Pichelli
Colors: Justin Ponsor
Lettering: VC’s Cory Petit
Cover: Kaare Andrews
Plot: Miles Morales, garbed in his Spider-Man costume, is confronted by Spider-Woman who demands answers. She uses her organic webbing to pull the mask off Miles’ face and to wrap him up in a cocoon. Miles threatens to go to the police, but trips when he attempts to flee. He hits his head on a satellite dish, knocking himself unconscious.
Miles wakes up in the Trsikellion, under the observation of Nick Fury and the Ultimates. Fury dismisses Hawkeye, Spider-Woman and Iron Man after they hear the results of Miles’ blood analysis. Fury drops the shield on Miles’ cell and enters to talk to the young teen about his powers. Miles explains the spider bite at his uncle’s apartment and Fury reveals that Uncle Aaron is also known as the Prowler.
Elsewhere, in the Triskellion Medical Ward, Maxwell Dillon wakes from the bullet wound he suffered when he was shot by Aunt May. Dillon electrocutes all the employees in the hospital and shuts the power down in the Triskellion. Nick Fury dispatches the Ultimates who are all taken down by Electro. The villain turns his attention to Fury. Miles, in stealth mode, sneaks up behind Electro while he is distracted and hits him from behind.
Electro is dumbfounded when he sees Spider-Man alive and further shocked when the hero disappears in front of his eyes. Miles uses his venom sting to overload Electro’s powers and Nick Fury finishes off the bad guy with a couple gunshots.
The following day Miles is recapping the events with Ganke at school. Jessica Drew meets up with the duo. She leaves Miles with a briefcase and a warning that Fury has given him one chance. Inside the briefcase is a redesigned Spider-Man outfit which Miles slips on before taking to the rooftops.
He is the chosen one. He will bring balance: Things begin to pick up for Miles Morales, the fledgling superhero, when he encounters his predecessor’s female counterpart, Spider-Woman. I liked the interaction between the two. Jessica seemed reasonably offended by the makeshift Halloween costume that Miles wore, and he was overwhelmed by the confrontation. I liked his threat to go to the police if she didn’t leave him alone; it was a good mixture of fear and humor.
Miles has another good interaction with Nick Fury, someone else from Peter’s past. It was a nice touch to have Miles instinctively disappear during their conversation. I really felt sorry for Miles in that scene because you could tell he was way out of his league and over his head. It was also nice to see that Fury knows who Miles’ Uncle Aaron is because of his Prowler persona. The only problem I found with that was how Fury claimed to not know who Maxwell Dillon was. I’m sure Fury knew about the Prowler because he had just reviewed his file, but how is it possible that Fury doesn’t know the civilian identity of one of the most dangerous villains in the world?
All the crackling energy Electro sent through the workers was a nice detail and display of his power. The rest of the action involved Electro facing off against the Ultimates, and he makes quick work of them. I especially liked seeing him overload Iron Man’s armor. One question I have with the fight involves Electro’s vulnerability to bullets. In the Death of Spider-Man arc, Electro was defeated by one bullet from the gun of Aunt May, but in this issue he survives three arrows to the back from Hawkeye and three bullets from Nick Fury. I guess it depends on how powered up he is.
Miles was able to overload Electro’s power surge by using his venom sting ability. I enjoyed seeing the new powers being used successfully. The invisibility came in handy for Miles as well, but I am still concerned that this ability has the potential to be overused and become an easy failsafe for Miles to get out of trouble. I found it a bit unbelievable that Miles would be able to take down Electro so easily after the villain just dispatched three big time heroes, but I guess it can be chalked up to beginner’s luck.
Hard to see, the dark side is: Bendis’ writing was much better this time. One of the things he does well is to drop you into the middle of a conversation. When Miles and Max both wake up in the Triskellion, you get to see a bit of dialogue taking place between the Ultimates and the doctors. This approach helps me feel like I’m involved in a bigger world where the heroes and villains aren’t always the main focus of the story. The rest of the writing was handled well for the most part, except when Fury asks Miles if he was “one of those A.D.D. kids.” I’m also surprised that the Ultimates were so taken aback at the fact that Miles was a kid; it’s not as though Peter was that much older than this new Spider-Man.
I’m still a big fan of the art team as that continues to be the best thing about this book. Pichelli is great with the facial expressions but I’m glad Miles is finally wearing a mask because his deer in the headlights look is beginning to get a bit overused. This isn’t the first we’ve seen of the new costume, but it’s the debut of the outfit in the pages of the comics. I’m not opposed to the new design, but I’m not that big a fan of the abundance of black being used. I prefer my Spider-Man in the heroic red and blue color scheme.
And you, young Skywalker; we shall watch your career with great interest: Miles has come a long way, and he has finally taken on the mantle of Ultimate Spider-Man. I didn’t think it was the most original or fresh take on the origin story, but it worked well enough to keep me interested. However, it still seems as though the creative team is forcing Miles on the readers. The last scene, picturing Miles in full Spidey costume and pose, coupled with Ganke’s line “You’re officially Spider-Man” seemed a bit forced; as did Nick Fury using the “with great power” mantra.
I’m a bit shocked that this story is even happening though. Did Fury learn nothing from Peter? Why is he willing to put a 13-year-old in the same situation that a 16-year-old just died in? This seems a bit foolish and irresponsible on his part. Fury revealing the identity of Uncle Aaron for Miles was well done, but I would have rather seen Miles discover it for himself in an upcoming story line.
Rating: Good, art, characterization and story. Meh, action and writing. 4/5 Forces Are With You
Overall Story Arc Rating: Good, art and characterization. Meh, story and writing. Poor, action. 3.5/5