The best-laid plans, often go awry. To paraphrase an ode to a mouse. I had no idea that phrase came from an old Scots poem. Nor did I know that the novel Of Mice and Men got its title from that phrase. How about that, you learn something new every day. And it’s relevant because Cap’s plans to put an end to Miles’ stint as Spider-Man kind of go awry.
Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man #14
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: David Marquez
Colorist: Justin Ponsor
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Cover Artist: Jorge Molina
Plot: Captain America has followed Miles Morales to his secret meeting with Aunt May and Gwen Stacy. Gwen is upset and yells at Cap when he tells the young hero he can no longer continue being Spider-Man. Captain America and Miles debate the topic, with Cap’s main reason being that Miles is too young. Mary Jane steps out of the shadows, having been informed by Gwen of the meeting, and accuses Captain America of using Miles to try and make up for his failures with Peter.
Aunt May and Gwen squabble about Gwen’s decision to invite MJ without the two agreeing on it beforehand, and Miles confesses to MJ that he is a fan of her blog. Captain America is called away to a skirmish at the Lincoln Tunnel, but before he leaves, Cap warns Miles that he will arrest the youth should he disobey his orders. May, Gwen, and MJ are left to finish their meeting with Miles, and encourage the new Spider-Man to assist Captain America at the Lincoln Tunnel. May provides Miles with Peter’s old web-shooters and a suggestion that he not do what others expect of him, but to do what Miles Morales would do.
Miles, equipped with the new web-shooters, takes off in the direction of the Lincoln Tunnel to follow Captain America. After a few mishaps, Miles gets the hang of his web-swinging.
The entrance to the tunnel is blocked by burning vehicles. Miles arrives in time to take the brunt of a fiery explosion as the Rhino busts through the wreckage. The Rhino sends Spider-Man flying into the river with an upper-cutting head-butt. Captain America directs the surrounding soldiers to tend to civilians as he braces for a confrontation with the Rhino. Spider-Man comes back in time to halt the Rhino’s charge by spraying webbing into his eyes. Miles follows the distraction with a punch which leaves the Rhino unfazed. The Rhino tosses Spider-Man from the battle once more.
A soldier tells Spider-Man that the Rhino has a control panel on the back of his armor. Spider-Man leaps back into the fray and lands on the behemoth’s back. Miles second guesses his decision to venom-blast the suit as he remembers what befell his uncle. Spider-Man instead chooses to use the venom blast on the Rhino’s neck. The delayed shock of the venom blast overloads the Rhino’s power suit, resulting in another explosion which sends Spider-Man and Captain America skidding across the pavement.
Sitting next to one another in front of a defeated Rhino, Captain America begrudgingly accepts Miles’ decision to become the new Spider-Man, under the condition that the young teen receives training. Miles sheepishly asks if Cap will be the one to train him.
Ultimate Breakdown: The important ladies in Peter Parker’s life are not doing so well after his death. Gwen Stacy does not start this issue off on a good note. Who does she think she is talking to Captain America the way she does? Cap is a respected authority figure and she’s still just a sixteen-year old girl. He deserves more respect than being referred to as “the eagle from the Muppets.” I admittedly found that line funny, but disliked the farting line that followed it up. Gwen just comes off as a rude, ill-mannered teen.
Then there’s Mary Jane, who, next to Aunt May, most likely took Peter’s death the hardest. But why does she need to turn Goth with the dark lipstick, fingernails, and fishnet gloves. Why do all the Ultimate girls need to go through a Goth phase? First it was Kitty Pryde, now MJ. Wardrobe aside, MJ doesn’t pull any punches with Captain America either, remarking that Cap’s simply punishing Miles for his personal failure with Peter.
Everyone is way too quick to blame Cap for Peter’s death. Back during Peter’s funeral, Cap told Aunt May that Peter’s death was his fault, but he didn’t mean that in a completely literal sense. Cap was taking responsibility as any commanding officer or leader would do when someone under their watch perishes. Captain America feels as though he failed Peter by not training him properly. That doesn’t necessarily make Peter’s death his fault. I can forgive May for slapping Cap at the funeral because she was grieving, but the Parker ladies shouldn’t continue to blame Captain America. Peter would most likely be ashamed of them for doing this because he would see his actions as his own and not Captain America’s fault. It should be noted that May didn’t speak to Cap during this meeting.
It is interesting that May and the girls are quick to blame Captain America, especially considering how they’re trying to manage Miles’ new career as Spider-Man. Will May be as quick to accept the blame for Miles’ death as Cap was for Peter’s death? Doubtful, but that’s not stopping her from bossing Gwen around and telling her to run anything involving Miles by her as though she were his agent. She’s already outfitting him with her nephew’s equipment – the same equipment that wasn’t enough to save his life.
Captain America is the only one making sense in this secret meeting. He made a good point about tracing the call without Miles’ knowledge, suggesting that as a reason Miles shouldn’t be a superhero. Miles deserves some credit for being the only one to give Cap the respect he deserves, despite the elder hero’s attempts to put the brakes on Miles’ own heroic aspirations.
I’m in complete agreement with Cap’s position concerning Miles. Thirteen is young, as many are quick to point out, even for someone with superpowers. Peter was sixteen, which is also very young, but the three years difference seems pretty important. That’s three years of experience and education that Miles does not have. Miles’ education should be more important than running around in life-threatening situations. At thirteen, Miles is still learning basic fundamental skills, behaviors, and lessons.
Miles also seems young to be tossing around as many quips as he does. I had a hard time picturing a thirteen-year old jumping around the Rhino, while firing off a joke a minute. Bendis continues to write Miles’ Spider-Man like Peter’s Spider-Man.
The art is the same quality work it usually is on the Ultimate title. The only hiccups with the art would be the poor wardrobe choices, especially Cap’s American Gladiator-like outfit. Marquez has sharp layouts and very organized panels, until you get to the end battle with the Rhino when the panels begin to cut in at varying angles. That subtle change to the panels is a nice contrast between the calm setting of the meeting and the chaotic scene of the battle.
Miles’ acquisition of the web-shooters also offered some clever opportunities for Marquez. I enjoyed Miles’ first attempt at using the web-shooters when the word “Thwip” was spelled out in the webline. The webbing used as the panel borders during the flashback to Uncle Aaron’s death was also a nice touch.
The web-shooters also helped highlight Miles’ need to study harder in school, and I’m glad he recognized the need. Seeing Miles learn how to properly webswing was enjoyable. The next thing for Miles to master is his venom blast. I’m glad he made the conscious decision to not use the venom blast on the Rhino’s control panel because was reminded of Uncle Aaron’s death. Instead, Miles zapped a different part of the Rhino’s armor, knocking the rampaging beast out.
I’m not entirely sure Miles still didn’t kill the Rhino though. It looked like a pretty nasty explosion. The issue also ends on a poor note for Captain America who goes back on his decision to prevent Miles from being Spider-Man. I would think Cap, of all characters, would stick to his convictions more than others.
Ultimate Spider-Man still doesn’t seem to have much to do with the Divided We Fall story besides featuring Captain America. Miles makes some good progress on his journey to becoming Spider-Man. However, immature behavior from the female supporting cast and Captain America’s decision to flip-flop overshadow another triumph for Miles.