I got nothing here. I can’t think of a clever way to begin this intro paragraph which ties the review back to the current television series I’m watching: Star Trek: The Next Generation. How about the fact that Miles is boldly going where no normal thirteen year old should be going? Or does anybody know if Wesley Crusher had an uncle that tried to use him against the Federation? Cause that’d be a good parallel to this story. Oh well, guess I’ll have to keep watching and see if I can find a better connection. Engage!
Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man #12
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Art: David Marquez
Colors: Justin Ponsor
Lettering: VC’s Cory Petit
Cover: Jorge Molina
Plot: The Prowler waits for his spider-powered nephew atop the rooftop where they met the previous nights. Miles, in his Spider-Man attire, sits perched on a distant building watching his uncle. The Prowler gets angry when Miles refuses to answer any of his text messages. The wayward uncle unleashes the mechanical Vulture wings under his trench coat, and flies away.
In school the next day, Miles, Ganke and their classmates receive a lesson about T.H. White’s “The Once and Future King.” The teacher is not satisfied with Ganke’s response concerning the lesson of the novel, but Judge, Miles and Ganke’s third roommate, provides a satisfactory answer. In the hallway after class, Ganke loudly discusses Miles’ conflict with his uncle. A young girl watches the duo from beyond the row of lockers and Miles silences Ganke. Miles tells his friend that he is going to go home and confide in his parents so his uncle can no longer blackmail him.
Miles arrives at his house and is met outside by Uncle Aaron. Aaron threatens Miles, claiming that if the two weren’t related Aaron wouldn’t have tolerated his disrespect in such a manner. Miles prevents his uncle from entering the house and exposing his secret, agrees to meet with his uncle again. Aaron leaves and Miles goes inside to surprise his mother with his unexpected visit.
Later that night, Miles dons his costume and meets with the Prowler. Spider-Man demands that the Prowler leave town and promise never to come near him or his family again. The Prowler is offended and immediately attacks his nephew using gauntlets similar to the ones used by the villain Shocker. Miles recovers from the attack and delivers a punch which sends his uncle sprawling, damaging one of the Prowler’s power gloves. To the dismay of his uncle, Miles vanishes and reappears to deliver a kick from behind. The Prowler tumbles over the side of the building, forcing Spider-Man to leap to his rescue.
The Prowler surprises Spider-Man by clinging to a fire escape and blasting Spidey from the air. Miles crashes into a bus, which the Prowler destroys in a follow up attack. Miles responds by assisting the victims in the crash. The Prowler interrupts the rescue attempt and reignites the scuffle with his nephew. A crowd watches and cheers on Spider-Man.
Miles uses his venom blast on his uncle who then backhands the youth. When Aaron raises his fist to deliver another blast from his gauntlet, the delayed effect of the venom blast overloads the damaged technology. The glove explodes violently, sending Spider-Man flying away from the blast. Miles catches himself on the street and rushes back to his uncle’s side. Uncle Aaron claims that Miles is just like him, then the Prowler succumbs to his injuries, seemingly dying in front of his nephew’s eyes.
Ultimate Breakdown: Miles and Uncle Aaron continue to grow apart and define themselves, their differences coming to a head in this final battle. Miles does a great job of standing up for himself and defying his uncle. Aaron once again shows how evil he can be by threatening his teenage nephew. He claims that he will drop Miles’ defeated body in front of his father. Aaron shows even more disregard for the safety of others when he attacks the bus full of civilians. This selfish act sets up a good opportunity for Miles to prove his heroic nature. Miles offers his assistance to the victims in the bus as a true hero should, despite the fact that his villainous uncle is still bearing down on him.
This unavoidable conflict was a nice climax to the story of the nephew and uncle. Miles continues to show a better understanding of his powers, purposefully using his stealth to trick his uncle, as well as successfully employing his venom blast once again. The only minor complaint I have with the fight would be how it was concluded. It looks like the venom blast had an adverse effect on Uncle Aaron’s damaged gauntlet, causing it to short circuit and explode. I wouldn’t accuse Miles of being responsible for Aaron’s death since he was only trying to save himself. However, this will no doubt be an event that Miles won’t soon forget, and will also be seen as a way for him to learn the hard lesson about responsibility.
Aaron’s claim that Miles is just like him before he died is a bit of a stretch as well. I’m certain had Miles known how fatal the move would have been, he wouldn’t have used the venom blast on his uncle, whereas Aaron had no problem with delivering killing blows. There are some parallels to Peter and his Uncle Ben’s death, but this is different enough to make it stand on its own. I’m also glad that this is seemingly how this story arc ends, as a heroic redemption for Aaron would have been harder to sell at this point.
Aaron’s death not only helps move Miles’ story forward, but also offers a respite from the poor dialogue from Aaron. The way Aaron talks is part of his character, but I can’t help but let it bother me. I want to edit some of his sentences so they’re easier to read and that winds up taking me out of the comic. This is a minor complaint because it’s not as much of a problem in this issue and it’s also necessary to give characters their individual voices.
One of the voices that did bother me in this issue was that of one of the victims on the bus. One lady kept saying to Miles that she was “glad you’re really not dead.” To me, this seemed to be in poor taste and showed poor judgment on her part. The city held a big funeral for Peter Parker when he died, and no one has claimed that this is the same Spider-Man, so what makes her think it’s the same one and that Peter is not really dead?
Another poorly scripted character was Miles’ teacher in this comic. Ganke’s answer about animals possessing different abilities in “The Once and Future King” seemed like a fine answer and just a different way of phrasing Judge’s response that animals have varying perspectives on life. If the teacher had let Ganke finish his explanation instead of just shooting him down right away, maybe Ganke would have made the connection himself. The rude expression on the teacher’s face was also unflattering for a faculty member working at such a prestigious school. However, the animal theme in White’s Arthurian novel works well in a Spider-Man story considering the number of villains who are animal-themed themselves; including the Prowler and his mechanical Vulture wings.
I don’t like defending Ganke since I still find him to be a selfish and obnoxious friend, especially when he wants to tag along with Miles just to check out his hot mom. Ganke proves his selfishness in the hallway when he doesn’t seem to care if anybody overhears his conversation concerning Miles’ double life. I’m interested to see if the girl in the hallway was actually eavesdropping and if that will be an issue down the line for Miles.
Good fight book to bring an end to the conflict between Miles and his uncle.