Ultimate Spider-Man #6 – Review


It’s finally happened. Remember way back when, in the month of July in the year 2011 – I expressed my personal fear of being considered a fraud. Then I followed it up by  denouncing Twitter to Aaron Romero, Jr. and declaring it the spark that will ignite the end of our civilization. Well, you can call me a phoney now because I finally established residence in the Twitter-verse. But I swear I only did it just to get the rights to my gamertag. Anyway, sorry for the lateness of the review, but I’ve been toying with some more things in WordPress’ formatting capabilities… so let me know your thoughts on the new layout.  

Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man #6

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis

Artist: Chris Samnee
Colors: Justin Ponsor
Lettering: VC’s Cory Petit
Cover: Kaare Andrews
Variant Cover: Mark Bagley

Plot: Since his departure from New York, Uncle Aaron has been traveling through Mexico City. He enters the back room of a tavern where he is greeted by a group of armed gangsters. Scorpion, the head of the gang, calls his men off the notorious thief known as the Prowler. Aaron unleashes an electric shock, knocking out all men except Scorpion. The two  men argue over a business transaction before Aaron unsuccessfully attacks Scorpion. Outmatched, the Prowler resorts to fighting dirty before fleeing the bar, only to be greeted and arrested by the local authorities.

Back in New York, Miles is reveling in his new identity as Spider-Man. As he races across the rooftops he hears a cry for help. Miles swoops in to defend a lady from a group of would-be purse-snatchers. After defeating the assailants, he is surprised when the cops try to apprehend him. Miles flees the scene, but not before Betty Brant captures a video of his exploits.

Miles returns home from school to spend quality time with his family over the weekend. His mother dotes on him excessively. With his father at work, Miles and his mother talk about his school and the revelation that Miles’ father has a shady past. Miles expresses his concern that he could turn out like his dad.

The two are interrupted when Ganke bursts into the kitchen. The roommates excuse themselves to Miles’ room where Ganke shows off a DVD showing live footage from a fight between the recently deceased Spider-Man and the late Dr. Octopus. Ganke urges Miles to watch the video to learn everything that Peter knew so Miles doesn’t meet the same fate as his predecessor.

Betty Brant takes the footage of Spider-Man to her former employer, J. Jonah Jameson. She asks for her old job back in exchange for the video. In a Mexico City prison, Uncle Aaron sees a picture of the new Spider-Man in a newspaper. Aaron desperately calls out for someone to translate the paper and explain who the new Spider-Man is.

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Ultimate Breakdown: I feel as though Spider-Man’s involvement in this comic is becoming its own weakness. Bendis is shaping Miles Morales and his family up really well and the issues that have focused on that family aspect have been the strongest. This is the main thing that sets Miles apart from Peter, and helps separate the two heroes’ stories. This time we see Miles in a touching moment with his mother, who is overly affectionate. It’s a shame that their moment was ruined by Ganke’s rude interruption. One aspect of the conversation I liked was that Miles was thinking something other than what he was saying, holding back what he really wanted to tell his mother.

It’s also nice to see Uncle Aaron come back into the comic after his mysterious departure. Bendis does a good job of weaving in more Spider-Man references by introducing this new version of Scorpion, who I have been led to believe is Mac Gargan. I like the idea of having the criminal be associated with Uncle Aaron. However, this sets up the possibility that Aaron will get in trouble with Scorpion and need Miles’ help, instead of pitting uncle and nephew against each other as rivals.

During Miles’ conversation with his mother, he expressed concern about his father and uncle’s pasts. I like that he told his mother he wasn’t worried about his father, and how he appeared more worried about potentially facing off with his uncle mask-to-mask. The inevitable showdown between the two involved another twist when Aaron noticed the picture of the new Spider-Man in the paper. Does he assume that Miles is the new Spider-Man? This would mean that he broke into Osborn Industries with the knowledge they had genetically-altered spiders. I guess he could be putting two and two together, considering his nephew had been bitten by the spider in his own apartment.

I don’t doubt Uncle Aaron’s intelligence since he is a successful, high-tech burglar, but other times in this issue he is written poorly. When he calls out for help in the Mexico City prison he pleads “I don’t read Mexican.” He is apparently easily duped by the Tinkerer’s faulty technology, and his attempt to stab Scorpion and flee from the cops wasn’t well thought out. One of the other minor objections I had with the writing this issue was Miles’ use of the phrase “act the fool” in his serious conversation with his mother.

While Miles’ personal life helps set the story apart from Peter Parker’s legacy, the Spider-Man angle is more or less the same. Everything we’re seeing from Miles under the mask could easily be something we saw from Peter. The scene of Miles running over the rooftops in glee seems too familiar, as does the witty one-liner in the middle of the fight with the thieves, and not knowing how to respond to the antagonistic cops. I like Spider-Man, so this doesn’t bother me that much, but it does seem as though we are still rehashing a series of events instead of giving Miles the chance to do something different and face new challenges.

The art received a jarring change-up, with Samnee replacing Pichelli. The flowing paint-like style isn’t my thing, and is reminiscent of the work that Daniel Acuña has done with the Avengers comic. Ponsor sticks around and keeps the effective color palate, but it’s lost among all the thick, poorly defined lines. One of the things I’ve liked most about the artwork in the earlier issues of this series is Ponsor’s great backgrounds that frame the characters. He doesn’t get the chance to employ that effect this time around.

Some of the character designs look a bit odd. One of the gangsters Uncle Aaron faces in the beginning of the comic has a really awkward torso which looks disjointed behind the character’s arm. Miles’ mom has a cartoony-looking face at times, and some of the purse-snatchers looked like they would fit better in an Archie comic or daily comic strip. The best thing about the art in this issue was how well it captured the super-scrawny, young teenager look for Miles in the Spider-Man costume.

 

Rating: Good, characterization. Meh, action, story and writing. Poor, art. 3/5

“Remember that one time during the fight when it looked like you might actually win? No? Me neither.” – Marvel vs. Capcom 3
“Did I mention I beat up Firelord once? No, seriously. Firelord.” – Ultimate Alliance 2
 
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