There’s always money in the banana stand. That doesn’t really have anything to do with this review, but to begin this little intro I wanted to borrow a quote from one of the best written shows out there, Arrested Development. I’m watching the show once again on Netflix so all the running gags and witty jokes are fresh in my mind. But this is supposed to be a comic book review… So now the story of a dangerous criminal who’s about to lose everything and the one nephew who had no choice but to keep his family together. It’s Arachnid Development.
Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man #9
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Art: David Marquez
Colors: Justin Ponsor
Lettering: VC’s Cory Petit
Cover: Kaare Andrews
Plot: Following his fight with the Ringer, Miles Morales is trapped in the villain’s rings and unable to avoid a confrontation with Captain Frank Quaid. Captain Quaid questions the new Spider-Man, but refuses to remove the helpless boy’s mask. The police officer tells Miles that he is willing to work with him, as he had done with the previous Spider-Man, but Miles needs to leave the scene immediately. Miles leaps away, leaving the cops to attend to the Ringer.
Uncle Aaron, in his Prowler attire, is sneaking into the Tinkerer’s workshop. Inside, he is confronted by the Scorpion, who was waiting for Aaron to return to the hideout. The Prowler unleashes a powerful electrical burst, leveling his adversaries. The Scorpion recovers and whips his hook-and-chain around the warehouse, destroying all the battle suits created by the Tinkerer. Aaron dons a set of the Vulture’s wings and unleashes a barrage of razor-sharp, metallic “feathers.” Aaron flies away before the Scorpion can recover.
The Brooklyn Visions Academy administrators are walking the halls of the school calling for lights out. Ganke tries to cover for Miles who is not back from his latest outing as Spider-Man. Their roommate, Judge, denies that Miles is in the bathroom, so the administrator goes to check. By the time the faculty member checks the empty bathroom and returns to the room, Miles has returned. The roommates convince the administrator that Miles had been there the whole time, but when they are alone, they refuse to answer any of Judge’s questions.
Later that night, Miles and Ganke text each other concerning the night’s events. Miles questions whether it all is worth the trouble. At close to two in the morning, Miles receives a text from his Uncle Aaron. Miles tells his uncle he is not ready to meet him, but Aaron presses further. He asks his nephew to do one favor for him and to meet him atop the roof of a hotel. Miles stares at the text and thinks about whether or not to respond.
Ultimate Breakdown: There is a benefit to being able to review Bendis’ writing in both Ultimate Spider-Man and New Avengers. Writing for a solo hero and writing for a team requires balancing your characters and their interactions differently, and I get to see Bendis handle both of these styles. In New Avengers, his dialogue gets pretty jumbled at times and he tries to fit in too much, but here Bendis does a good job of writing the one-on-one conversations. Some of the slang-speak that he employs can get obnoxious, but he does do a good job of giving each of his characters an individual voice.
One of those characters is Uncle Aaron, and Bendis is trying to make the reader feel sorry for the uncle. Even though he has done some unforgiveable things, Bendis still makes Aaron seem like that misguided youth who never grew up and got out of the game. The easiest way to sympathize with a character like Aaron, though, is to compare him to a much harder, more dangerous villain. Aaron isn’t at the same level as the Scorpion and it’s going to force him to rely on his nephew. It will be up to our young hero to save his wayward uncle and it will be interesting to see how it ends for Aaron.
Aaron shines in his encounter with the Scorpion, a scene which makes up the majority of the action in this issue. Aaron makes effective use of the gadgets and suits found in the Tinkerer’s workshop. This interaction served a few purposes. It showed Aaron’s ability to adapt to challenges and his capacity for handling new technology. It also forced Aaron out of hiding, requiring him to reach out to his nephew. We also see that the Scorpion has some special powers, the extent of which we are yet to learn.
One of the other characters Bendis is focusing on is the police Captain Frank Quaid. I’m not sure what his angle is so far. At first he seems dismissive of this new Spider-Man, but then is accepting of him by the end of their conversation. The funny thing is that Quaid seemed more willing to let Spider-Man run away when he found out he was a youth. Is it really responsible for the police captain to let the young hero continue running around as Spider-Man? Especially after what happened to the previous teen who wore the mask?
The conversation between Quaid and Miles was a good example of the art helping out the individual conversations between the characters. The first three pages of the comic were full spread images of Quaid and Miles talking. The use of the continuous string of speech bubbles helps guide the reader through their conversation. The end, showcasing the text conversation between Miles and his uncle, was a nice effect as well. The art zoomed in on Miles’ face and focused on the text from Aaron, adding more drama to the end of the book. Marquez’s art is very complimentary to Pichelli, who I didn’t even realize was off of art duties for this issue. I do like Marquez’s version of Miles better though since he doesn’t look as scrawny in the Spider-Man outfit as he does when Pichelli draws him.
Concerning Miles, what type of school did his parents send him to that the administrators are preparing the students for “spiritual and mental education” every day? And how long did Miles and Ganke think they could get away with Miles sneaking out all the time? Ganke is a massive jerk and smartass to both the administrator and their roommate, Judge. By neglecting him and obviously keeping secrets, Miles and Ganke are being extremely rude to Judge in the process. Why can’t they just say that Miles has a secret girlfriend instead of being in the bathroom for several hours? With this type of treatment, Judge is going to become a new villain in Miles’ life!
But this interaction between the three roommates was an inevitable moment, much like the rest of the events in this issue. This was a filler issue, just moving characters into place for the next stage of the story. Miles and Captain Quaid had their first meeting; Aaron had to be confronted by the Scorpion, forcing him to seek out his nephew for assistance; and Miles and Ganke’s deception is starting to come to light. There was good focus on the characters which should lead to more action and turmoil in future issues.