Cough. Cough. You know what’s worse than working two dozen hours of overtime over the weekend? Doing it with a nagging cough that won’t go away. Despite all that, I finally found the time to catch up on some of my other obligations tonight, such as getting you fine folks this latest Ultimate Spider-Man review. Maybe I should get one of those Ghost Riders for my future reviews if I’m running late. You know, someone else who can write my reviews using my name so I don’t actually have to do the work, and then they can ride around on a flaming motorcycle and… wait, I think I got something wrong. Maybe that’s why that early 90’s kids’ show, Ghost Writer, wasn’t as cool as I thought it would be. Anyway, speaking of Ghost Rider, if you’d like to share your opinion of the latest Ghost Rider movie, Spirit of Vengeance, with the MMA Podcast guys (me, Shaun and Nate), we’ll be discussing it during our recording tomorrow night. So like us on facebook and send us your comments. But first comment about this comic down below!
Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man #7
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Chris Samnee
Colors: Justin Ponsor
Lettering: VC’s Cory Petit
Cover: Kaare Andrews
Plot: Miles Morales is watching video footage of Spider-Man’s fight against Doctor Octopus, and mimicking the moves of his predecessor. Miles is embarrassed when his mother interrupts him to discuss dinner plans. Later, the family is sitting down to eat and talking about the pros and cons of a new Spider-Man. Miles is disheartened when he learns his father does not support the idea, but his mother disagrees and says that super heroes are cool.
Miles heads out after dinner in his Spider-Man gear. He questions the extent of his powers and how to use them, wishing that Peter Parker was still around to offer some advice. Miles loses his grip on the side of a building when the wind bears down on him, but the hero is able to grab on to the closest balcony. Miles realizes the usefulness of webbing. After surprising the apartment’s resident, Miles is alerted to an explosion in the distance. He leaps from the balcony, panicking mid free-fall, before clinging to the side of a water tower.
Arriving at the scene of the chaos, Miles’ wonders what the buzzing in his head is trying to tell him. He avoids a car, hurled in his direction by Omega Red. Miles dances around the mercenary’s whip-like tentacles. Omega Red mistakes this Spider-Man for the one he has fought in the past and curses the hero’s repetitive questioning and mocking. Miles is flattered to learn he has used a line similar to one Peter once had used on the same villain. The fight ends when Miles disappears a few times, reappearing to deliver an uppercut and venom blast to knock Omega Red out. Miles briefly celebrates his victory in front of a few bystanders.
The Prowler, also known as Miles’ Uncle Aaron, visits the Tinkerer in his workshop. He had been displeased with the latest gadget the Tinkerer provided for him. The Tinkerer defends his product, simply telling the Prowler he misused it. The Prowler threatens the inventor at gunpoint and demands that he give him Spider-Man powers, like the new hero featured in the paper. The Tinkerer explains that it must have been something Osborn created. The Prowler recognizes the connection between the spider in Osborn’s lab and the spider which bit his nephew, and the crooked uncle shoots the Tinkerer. After changing his outfit, Uncle Aaron visits his nephew at the Brooklyn Visions Academy and tells Miles that he knows how busy the teenager has been.
Ultimate Breakdown: I still can’t support Samnee’s art in this book. I’d expect to see this type of art on a computer screen or television in the background of a better drawn comic. It looks too loose, with a lack of definition in several scenes. I suspect it’s the inconsistent line work, because some of the action scenes with Omega Red look like they were given more attention. The lettering is very well done and the best part of the art. In particular, I liked the panel where the word “Faboom” was masked over the artwork in the background. The spider sense is nicely done as well. The all white coloring of the lightning bolts circling his head stood out thanks to the contrasting thick black outline. I appreciated the squinty eyes on the masks of both Spidey and the Prowler. It helped show the characters’ facial expressions.
Practicing his moves by watching Spider-Man in action is a good idea for Miles in theory, but I would assume it’s not the same thing as actually avoiding massive tentacles swinging at your head. It’s still a good way to break a sweat though, and presented the awkward moment between Miles and his intruding mom. The dinner conversation between Miles and his parents was another great example of the focus this book puts on the character development for this new hero and his family. I’m not sure how long Miles has been running around as Spider-Man at this point, but it seems as though his mother already knows about his extracurricular activities. That’s a bit too soon for me.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see Miles acquire the webbing in the next few issues, now that Bendis has made it a point to have the teen bemoan his lack of it. It’s nice to see Miles start questioning his abilities and how they work. I may have failed to mention this fear in my reviews for Fear Itself, but I’m also deathly afraid of heights. I shuddered when I saw Miles struggle against the wind while scaling the side of the building, and his suicide jump from the balcony didn’t seem very well planned; it freaked me out.
Spider-Man facing off against Omega Red, a mutant mercenary with tentacles extending from his arms, was a smart move since Miles was watching a fight between Peter and another adversary who also uses extra appendages in battle. I’m not a fan of the Ultimate version of Omega Red, normally an intimidating opponent for Wolverine in the main universe. Miles’ use of his camouflage ability turned Omega Red into just another typical thug who falls for a simple disappearing act. Miles uses the venom blast once again as the final blow in this fight. Hopefully Miles will face an opponent soon who won’t be so easily toppled by the ability.
The best part of this comic is the return of Uncle Aaron and the further development of his character. In the last issue he came across as more of a smalltime crook who was out of his league. This time he shows that he’s not merely a misguided racketeer, and more of a cold-blooded killer. Miles may have a harder time convincing his Uncle Aaron to play on the right side of the law than I thought. I’m looking forward to seeing how the conversation between uncle and nephew, both aware of the other’s double life, plays out in the next issue.
This relationship and characterization of Miles and his family once again helps set this Ultimate Spider-Man series apart from the Peter Parker runs. Bendis’ writing didn’t bother me nearly as much this time out and helped in developing the characters. His Zoolander quote, “I feel like I’m taking crazy pills,” made me chuckle. The novice, inexperienced Spider-Man angle, and Miles’ similar attitude to Peter behind the mask, still bugs me as it remains nothing new. Hopefully the action gets a bit more varied as he learns more, and the art looks a bit less harried when Samnee’s contribution to the book ends.