We’re All Spider-Men (Spider-Men 1-3 reviews)

We’re All Spider-Men, I wish I could take credit for the line but I think it was Brian Bradley who coined it in the group. The idea was that everyone here: everyone that was a a part of this site, contributed to it, defended it, and came to it could be considered a Spider-Man in their own right. We idolize the wall-crawler, some of us aspire to be like him, and through the good and the bad we stick by through our love of the web-head. And I don’t just mean Peter Parker because the legacy of Spider-Man has grown to become bigger than just one man, one identity even, and this site reflects this growth. We have our original Spider-Man Brad Douglas, but through him this site has gained it’s own Ben Reilys,  Flash Thompsons, Anya Corzons,  Miles Morales, Andy Maguires (sorry Erik, the new guys draw the short straw), Madame Webs, and even our own Betty Brants. And sure, we’ve lost our Mattie Franklins along the way, but there will always be new Spider-Men to pick up the slack.

Spider-Men: Issues 1-3

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis

Artist: Sara Pichelli

Colorist: Justin Ponsor

Letterer: Cory Petit

Cover Artists: Jimmy Cheung & Justin Ponsor

Editor: Mark Paniccia

The Story: Peter Parker is web-swinging through his beloved city, when he comes across some mysterious stuff going down. Of course, Mysterio is behind it and while Peter tries to stop him, he gets sent through a machine that teleports him somewhere. Although he’s still in New York the landscape is changed. Several key landmarks are different and portions of the city are flooded or heavily damaged. Dazed and confused, Peter encounters another Spider-Man and naturally freaks out that he has the better costume. When Peter’s asked if he is Peter Parker or not by this new Spider-Man, he attacks him and seemingly kills him; however, the other Spider-Man is gifted with the ability of camoflouge and uses another new trick, the venom blast, to knock Peter out.

Miles Morales, the new Spider-Man, is freaking out after being unmasked by and then knocking out someone who looks like an older version of Peter Parker, the previous Spider-Man who was killed months earlier. Panicking, he takes this other Spider-Man to Nick Fury, who after having one very quick conversation with this other Spider-Man confirms Miles’ suspicion; this is Peter Parker, but not from their ‘Ultimate’ universe. Something arises that Fury has to deal with, but he leaves Peter with Miles, so he can explain to him what happened in this universe.

Mysterio is freaking out over sending Peter Parker into the other universe and activates his Avatar, a version of himself he controls from this universe but uses to wreak havoc in the Ultimate Universe. Ultimate Mysterio finds Peter and Miles before they can talk much and he uses their rogue galleries to attack them. Miles and Peter struggle against this rogue gallery, until together they realize it’s a chemical compound that is making them hurt themselves by fighting. Peter threatens to hurt Mysterio if he doesn’t return him home and Mysterio decides to seal the gateway between universes as a way to strand Peter in the Ultimate universe. After he does this, his Avatar explodes with Peter and Miles in the blast radius.

Miles is awoken by the Ultimates and Fury, who asks where Peter is, but Miles has no clue. On the other side of town, Peter is surprised to see his apartment is a convenience store and after stopping a robbery, he notices the woman working has a Spider-Man necklace which she wears to “respect the little dude in the ‘normal’ way”. He asks her what happens and after learning the truth of how his Ultimate counterpart died, he ends up at Aunt May’s house where he comes across Gwen and Aunt May.

Thoughts (Issue One):  In a typical Bendis paced issue, we spend the first issue of Spider-Men with the original Spider-Man, his Ultimate line successor showing up with a single line at the end. Nothing about this issue is a real tour de force from either Brian Michael Bendis or Sara Pichelli, but the issue benefits from Bendis’ strong grasp of Peter Parker- he’s funny, mature, optimistic and intelligent. Pichelli’s Spider-Man leaves something to be desired for me personally, but her flooded New York landscape is a beautiful visual and her work comes to life when viewed digitally, as opposed to the old paperback method.

The star of this issue is New York City, thanks to Peter’s personification of her and Pichelli’s art. Much like the best of the Batman stories, New York feels alive thanks to unity between writer and artist although it’s used for more of a comedic effect here. I don’t have any real problems aside from the fact that Bendis continues to write Miles like Peter, using his one line to reflect something Peter said. There’s just not much here either, so I’m giving it a 3.5/5, the well written script, well drawn visuals, and the fact I laughed at most of the jokes and narration giving it a slight edge to put it over average.

Line of the issue: Peter Parker: “Wow, talk about personal growth. It only took me 3535 times to figure out not to burst into a place like this when I have no idea what’s inside.”

Thoughts (Issue Two): For what essentially boils down to a fight issue, Bendis goes all out to fit as much in as possible. In a single issue we have the reveal of Ultimate Mysterio’s identity, an interrogation between Peter Parker and Nick Fury, plus Miles and Peter meet, fight, establish what makes them different in their power sets, and then make up. Considering the pace of Issue 1 and Issue 4, it’s really impressive how much Bendis manages to fit in here with his script. The dialogue is full of exposition and important information, but it seamlessly flows off the page with some of the best dialogue Bendis has delivered in years.

My biggest problem with the issue also comes from the dialogue, but not from a technical standpoint. The fight starts with Peter and Miles bouncing potential ‘what ifs’ off one another and for the most part their dialogue could come from either one of them, continuing my biggest problem with Miles Morales as a character- he’s still being written like Peter Parker. I think it’s better here at parts than it is in Ultimate Comics Spider-Man, but it still bothers me.

But since it is mainly a fight issue, let’s get down to the actual fight, which is an impressive show on all ends. Pichelli and Ponsor kill it with their pencils and colors respectively. I feel like the series still looks better with a digital touch over the traditional paper copy, but in either version you still feel the fluidity of the two Spider-Men fighting. Still, Pichelli and Ponsor do such a good job because they have such a visually diverse script to work from. Bendis shows the differences in Peter and Miles’ power sets and it constantly leads to each Spider-Man getting the upper hand throughout the fight.  Neither one is over powered and each get a good show of strength without tipping the balance of the scale until the victor emerges. And even though Miles beats Peter, it’s still a hundred percent believable and as shocking to him as it to the audience.

Again, there is some really great dialogue here and some beautiful visuals, but this issue is still just a fun take on your ‘Superheros must fight before teaming up’ trope that defines this industry. I’m giving this one a 3.5/5, for Bendis managing to fit in so much exposition while still making it fun and the art team delivering one of the best fights I’ve seen this year.

Line of the issue: I can’t go with the obvious answer, though I did fit in in the picture representation for this issue, so I’ll go with…

Peter Parker: “And did I mention that part where everyone seems to know Peter Parker is Spider-Man? Which I still neither confirm or deny…”

Thoughts (Issue Three): This issue was very much a mixed bag for me. Once again, it boils down to pretty much a fight scene with a couple scenes thrown at the end to lead into the next issue. The problem this issue had that issue two didn’t was… the fight just wasn’t that interesting. Also, Pichelli’s art got a little sketchy when she drew the Rogues Gallery and it’s probably some of the worst art I’ve seen her produce. In fact, the whole fight was pretty damn nonsensical and confusing. Apparently Mysterio managed to put something in the water that Peter and Miles fall into and this causes them to produce their biggest fears and have those fears attacks them. And all you had to do to stop it was grab an amulet and throw it in the water…. wait, what? Oh yeah and if you attack his Avatar, he apparently feels in the other Universe as well. Yup, okay, that just happened…

While we’re talking about out of place Mysterio stuff, I’m really not comfortable with Ultimate Mysterio’s identity. The Mysterio Bendis writes here and the one Slott wrote in Ends of the Earth are drastically different characters and I have a problem with Bendis just making his own continuity whenever he feels like it- it is my biggest pet peeve of his.  I really feel like this concept was just created for this event and doesn’t flow with the previous encounters involving Ultimate Mysterio.

Still, those final scenes with Peter learning about how ‘he’ died and visiting May Parker’s house really help bring the quality of this issue up- delivering some nice emotion from two every-day New Yorkers, one of which happens to crawl on walls. I’m going to give this issue a 3/5, it was the weakest of the bunch by far, but it also delivered the best emotional response out of the issues so far.

Line of the issue: Peter Parker: “What did I do to this Mysterio other than send him to jail a billion times and make fun of his fishbowl headdress. But come on, he put a fishbowl on his head and called it a costume. He was asking for it.”

Final Thoughts: This is something special, if not to everyone, then to me personally. I’ve come to hate almost everything Brian Michael Bendis does these days, but I’ve re-read these four issues probably about ten times a piece before even reviewing them. The bloody event isn’t even over yet and it’s probably one of the most read comics in my collection.

It’s not perfect, there are some glaring flaws in this event. I can’t help but feel bad for the character of Miles as well because he is getting screwed over in this crossover. He gets very little screen time and the only real development he’s made so far is the progression towards getting his own web-shooters. Everything that has to do with Mysterio doesn’t fit quite right to me, but this isn’t their story. Brian Michael Bendis, despite hailing this as a Spider-MEN event, is delivering THE Spider-MAN event of the year. He did it last year with his “Death of Spider-Man” and this year he’s delivering the goods for Peter Parker again. Bendis, Pichelli, and Ponsor are an insane team that work better together than the sum of their parts. And thanks to the team working on it, I can look past the flaws in the story.

Heard it down the web-line: For the fifth and final issue, I want to do a community based review that builds off the we are all Spider-Men theme. For anyone who picks up the final issue in singles, I’m going to wait a week before I start composing the review, which would allow anyone interested to send in an email with their brief thoughts on the issue or series as a whole along with their name or username. I will find some way to work it into the Crawlspace review, which ideally would go up somewhere around nine or ten days after the issue comes out. So if you want to give this a shot, send your thoughts to Shaun.Mart92@gmail.com

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(5) Comments

  1. Shaun Martineau - Post author

    @4: Totally send in something, if it's a little long I might trim a bit, but the gist of what you say will be kept intact.

  2. fantasyfreak

    I´ve never really been a fan of Ultimate Mysterio so the inconsistencies hasnt really bothered me. I agree issue 2 was the best paced, but as a whole I think Spider-Men has been pretty slow-paced. And seeing as they hyped it as the biggest event in Spidey history(I know they always do it, but since this is different I think they could have held up their promise this time) I think they should have made the story a little bigger in scale. Oh well, I still enjoy it somewhat, even though I´m generally underwhelmed by it.. Btw, nice idea you have for the review of issue 5 :) Will probably be very intresting. I´ll see if I can send in something myself. Though I tend to ramble a lot(as you can see :D).

  3. Brian Bradley

    Nice review buddy... that plot description is super confusing with all the talk of different universes and Spider-Men. Not exactly your fault though. I still haven't received my #4 for some reason, but I have enjoyed what I've read in the first three and have the same thoughts as you do for the most part. I'm actually a fan of Mysterio's reveal though. I think it's a clever tie between the two universes that apparently has been there making the story seem a bit more necessary... sort of.

  4. Phantom Roxas

    Yeah, Pichelli's rendering of the various villains was pretty weak. I also have problems with Mysterio's characterization being extremely inconsistent, which makes me even more curious when this takes place in relation to Ends of the Earth. Also, "Alison Blaire Realtor"? I tried to see who that refers to, and apparently it's Ultimate Dazzler, who died during Ultimatum. I guess it's an Easter Egg, then?

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