Hey-oh! I’m back with another Ultimate Spider-Man review… and I’m still watching Star Trek: TNG… and it still isn’t offering up any clever segues. I just started the fourth season and the Enterprise crew defeats the Borg by putting them to sleep… good times. Maybe I should hold out hope for Uncle Aaron to return and torment Miles as a Borg-like character. After all, he did have access to all of that technology from the Tinkerer. Make it so, Bendis! Resistance is futile!
Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man #13
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: David Marquez
Colorist: Justin Ponsor
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Cover Artist: Jorge Molina
Plot: The United States of America is falling apart. The country is torn asunder and S.H.I.E.L.D. tries to keep track of the chaos. Steve Rogers has resumed his role as Captain America and has recently been informed that there is a new Spider-Man. Captain America tells Tony Stark that he blames himself for Peter Parker’s death. The super-soldier decides to visit this new Spider-Man when a news alert which labels the new hero a murderer appears on the television.
Miles is lying in his bed having flashbacks of his uncle and their fatal altercation the previous night. Miles’ father enters the room and shares the news of Uncle Aaron’s death. The two talk about Aaron and agree that he was important to them, but in the end, he was just mean. However, Miles is shaken to hear that reports suggest that Spider-Man murdered Aaron, and his father talks despairingly of the idiots in costumes. Miles rolls over in his bed and asks to be left alone. He cries as he remembers Uncle Aaron’s last words to him – “you are just like me.”
Later, Miles and Ganke walk to school, only talking a short time when Miles sees a newspaper headline branding him a murderer. Over lunch, Miles tries to recall the exact events of his fight with his uncle. The two are interrupted by Judge, their roommate. Judge gets offended and storms off when it seems as though Miles and Ganke don’t want to sit with him. Miles receives a mysterious call on his cell phone and agrees to meet the caller some place private away from school.
A soldier prevents Miles from walking down the sidewalk as tanks roll down the streets of New York. Forced into donning his mask so he can race across the rooftops, Miles gets pulled into action when he witnesses a bank robbery. Spider-Man engages in a quick tussle with Batroc the Leaper, but at the end of the fight, the police turn on Spider-Man. In order to avoid arrest, Spider-Man vanishes from sight using his stealth ability, and dashes up the side of a building.
Spider-Man arrives at the secret location to meet with his mysterious caller. Inside, he removes his mask and Aunt May and Gwen Stacy officially introduce themselves to Miles. The three of them discuss Miles’ decision to become Spider-Man, as well as their meeting outside of Peter’s funeral. May then presents Miles with a gift that once belonged to Peter, but Captain America interrupts the exchange. Cap states he does not think the thirteen-year-old boy should continue being Spider-Man.
Ultimate Breakdown: At least twice, I have had a friend explain the events leading up to this Divided We Fall event in the Ultimate Universe, and I am still lost when opening this comic. Thankfully, not a lot of Miles’ story is tied into the overall event so far, so this story is capable of standing on its own. The recap page could have done a better job of filling the readers in on the current status quo of the Ultimate Universe instead of just showing a fractured map of the United States. Hopefully Miles’ involvement in this story will be extended beyond being told he can’t walk down the sidewalk.
The Divided We Fall event aside, the main story of this issue is the fallout of Miles’ recent fight to the death with his uncle. I’m glad Bendis is not waiting to explore the ramifications of that fight until after the event. Marquez and the rest of the art team continue to effectively depict Miles and his expressive facial features. The stream of tears pouring down Miles face successfully sells that Miles is feeling overwhelmed and alone. Everything is crashing down on the new hero, and I feel bad for the kid. The two men he has looked up to his whole life are unable to help him. His uncle is dead, as a result of his own actions; and his father blames Miles’ alter-ego for the death of his brother. The flashbacks of the fight and Uncle Aaron’s last line to his nephew added to the heaviness of the scene.
I don’t fault Miles for his reaction to this news, and it serves as a reminder that this is a young kid in way over his head. I am in complete agreement with Captain America when he says that 13 is too young to be involved in the costumed super-heroics business. On the other hand, I don’t agree with his assessment that Peter’s death was his fault, but I understand a character like Cap taking responsibility like that. Aunt May slapping Captain America at Peter’s funeral and blaming him for her nephew’s death probably doesn’t help Cap’s guilt. I’m interested to see how these two characters interact after their last meeting didn’t go well.
It puzzles me that Aunt May would be so willing to let another teen, one even younger than Peter, take up the mantle and put himself in the same dangerous situations in which Peter was killed. Why would she want another mother or family member to go through what she went through? And while it was nice to see the webshooters finally come into play, I didn’t think May would be the one to give the device to Miles. It seems that the gesture would have been better coming from Mary Jane, who was with Peter when he received them; or they could have come from Iron Man, since he created the upgraded versions as a gift to Peter in the first place.
The only other minor problems I had with this issue were the use of the third roommate Judge, and the bad guy, Batroc the Leaper. Judge has finally had enough with his roommates’ secrets and being excluded from their fun. I don’t blame him. Miles and Ganke could try and make more of an effort to not act so suspiciously around him. Judge’s inclusion in the story is still a mystery to me, so hopefully there’s some purpose for this character in the future other than just being an inconvenience to Miles and Ganke sharing secrets.
Don’t ask me why, but Batroc seems to be making a huge splash in the Marvel Universe recently. He’s made appearances in a couple of comics, and even appeared in an episode of the Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon show. In all appearances he comes off as a pretty weak character. Batroc is just thrown in so the hero can easily dispatch the bad guy and move on, but I guess those types of characters are necessary from time to time. Batroc’s accent is the most annoying thing about his appearance though. Bendis phonetically spells out the French dialect with words like “theeng” and “zeir.” I just found the words a bit too much and sort of an obnoxious stereotype. The conversation about henchman between Miles and Batroc broke up the pacing of their fight.
In order to end the fight, Miles tossed the getaway car with the bad guys inside. This seemed reckless and excessive. Didn’t Miles learn anything from the death of his uncle?
As far as a tie-in to the Divided We Fall story, this was a slow start. But as a follow-up and continuation of the Ultimate Spider-Man story, this comic does a good job. This comic successfully touches upon the fallout and reactions to Uncle Aaron’s death, and it also moves the story forward by reintroducing familiar characters, such as Aunt May and Captain America, and spider-gadgets, such as the webshooters.