I will take an L, Pat! Seriously, I could use a new L for my laptop. It’s been broken since, like, the first month I bought it many years ago, and it’s finally broken off completely. I don’t use this laptop for any other reason besides writing, so it’s making its sole purpose more difficult than it needs to be. Why, oh why, couldn’t the key I broke when I was young, drunk and reckless be the Q or Z? Do me a favor everybody, and keep an eye out for any missing L’s. I think I did a good job of typing carefully without the actual L key, but there may be a “Mies Moraes” or two in the review.
Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man #8
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Sara Pichelli
Colors: Justin Ponsor
Lettering: VC’s Cory Petit
Cover: Kaare Andrews
Plot: At the Brooklyn Visions Academy, Miles is confronted by his notorious uncle. Miles sends Ganke back to their dorm room, and the young hero timidly approaches the man he once trusted. Uncle Aaron tells Miles that he knows about his antics as the new Spider-Man. Without letting his nephew speak, Aaron tells Miles how he can get the most out of his new opportunity. A member of the school’s administration breaks up the family reunion and asks Aaron to leave the grounds or be escorted off.
In a New York police department, Captain Quaid, a cop displeased with masked vigilantes and criminals, interrogates Frank Oliver, the criminal known as the Kangaroo. The police captain is less interested in the prisoner than in hearing about the Kangaroo’s recent altercation with the new Spider-Man.
On the other side of town – and the other side of the law – the Scorpion infiltrates a poker game also attended by some mobsters who employ the thief known as the Prowler. The Scorpion is insulted by the men’s snide attitudes and their unwillingness to help. He lashes out with a large metal hook attached to the end of a chain and murders the mobsters. While standing in a bloody pile of corpses, the Scorpion states that New York is now his territory.
Miles seems distracted throughout his school day. At night, he sneaks out of his dorm room, asking Ganke to cover for him. As Spider-Man, Miles clings upside down to a building, thinking about his current predicaments involving his father and uncle. Another familiar Spider-Man foe interrupts Miles’ thoughts. The Ringer is running wild and spreading his metallic hoops around the streets. Miles gets trapped in several of the rings, but manages to surprise the Ringer with a leaping kick to the jaw. Spider-Man’s latest victory celebration is cut short by Captain Quaid and his police force.
In Paris, Aunt May and Gwen Stacy are walking beneath the Eiffel Tower and enjoying the sites. The moment is interrupted when they spot a local newspaper featuring an article and photo of the new Spider-Man.
Ultimate Breakdown: Pichelli has returned to head the art duties and her return is a sight for sore eyes. The art team of Pichelli and Ponsor has a great clean-cut, defined look. There is a wide range of colors in use, layered for shading, and perfectly confined by the sharp black outline. The characters look more realistic again and less like blobs on the page.
I like the classic look and layout of the panels. They do a wonderful job of dividing and spacing the art on the page, which helps move the story at a solid pace. The varied backgrounds between panels and occasional breaking of the frame help you forget that you’re looking at perfect squares and rectangles. I’m not sure who on the art team is in charge of the backgrounds, but I like that one panel will have a typical, detailed background; another would use a solid fill color or gradient; and then the very next panel would have a shape or effect to help emphasize important scenes or subjects.
One of my favorite scenes was when Miles is zoned out after meeting with his uncle. Pichelli did a great job of capturing the troubled look, and you can tell Miles had a millions thoughts racing through his head. However, one of my complaints with the artist’s interpretation of Miles so far is how he is always seen clutching his backpack to his chest. It’s like it’s some sort of natural defense mechanism.
The scene between Miles and Uncle Aaron was really intense. I liked seeing Aaron dominate the conversation, steering the youth in the direction he wanted. Even though Miles is now physically stronger than his uncle, he still looked scared and intimidated by his uncle. Something tells me the next time Miles sees Uncle Aaron, it’ll be through a mask, and there won’t be a member of the administration to save him.
I also enjoyed seeing the Ringer show up to cause trouble for Miles. The Ringer is another character from Peter Parker’s recent past. This fight is a little shorter and deviates slightly from the formula Miles established in his early days. Normally Miles’ routine includes a witty one-liner, a somewhat lucky knockout in one or two hits, and then a little self congratulatory celebration. Bendis mixes it up this time though by omitting the venom blast and having Miles win without the use of his arms. So we see that Miles has the ability to win without his stinger power and that he’s able to successfully adapt to situations.
With the appearances of Electro and the Ringer, and the inevitable addition of the Tony Stark-created webshooters, I have to wonder what else we’ll see from Peter Parker’s final days. The return of the zodiac key would be interesting and offer a potential way to bring the recently deceased hero back from the dead. We also get our first look at Gwen and Aunt May during their Paris getaway. I’m not complaining about the return of blonde Gwen, but what happened to Gwen’s short, black pixie haircut. And with the revelation of this new Spider-Man, I’m interested to see how Aunt May reacts in future episodes. How many people will feel the harsh slap of Aunt May now?
I like the story involving the new Scorpion and police captain. I’m a big fan of the HBO drama series, The Wire, and this dangerous kingpin on the rise, and the no-nonsense law enforcement, has me reminiscing about some of my favorite scenes from that show. The New York gangsters’ introduction to the Scorpion was really brutal. I liked the use of the Scorpion’s hook-and-chain weapon, akin to a deadly scorpion’s tail. I wonder if Captain Quaid’s antagonistic behavior and negative feelings towards vigilantes is influenced by the similar approach taken by Captain George Stacy in the new Amazing Spider-Man.
I had a few quibbles with Bendis’ writing this time out, but I did find Ganke’s attempt to cover for Miles – “Miles who?” – to be pretty weak. A bigger issue I had was when Uncle Aaron called Peter Parker the “white Spider-Man.” After claiming the change of Spider-Man’s race wasn’t a publicity act, why make it a point to identify either one of the Spider-Men as white or black? It just seemed a little unnecessary to me.