Ultimate Comics Spider-man received high praise at the Crawlie Awards, but what is it about the series that makes it a success?
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Dave Marquez
Colors: Justin Ponsor
Lettering: VC’s Cory Petit
Cover: Dave Marquez & Rainer Beredo
Assistant Editor: Emily Shaw
Editor: Mark Paniccia
Plot: One year ago, high school students Tandy Bowen and Ty Johnson met, fell in love, and suffered a near fatal tragedy. While comatose they were kidnapped by the Roxxon Corporation and became the subjects of some bizarre experiments.
In the present day, superhero power couple Cloak and Dagger battle Bombshell outside a Chinese restaurant while Miles Morales (Spider-man: No more) helps shepherd his father, Gwen and a dismayed restauranteur away from scene.
Thoughts: This issue, while being part of the Spider-man No More story arc, is really an origin story for the Ultimate version of Cloak and Dagger. In that regard this issue perfectly honours the original purpose of the Ultimate line. Bendis has taken two B-list Marvel characters, updated their origin for the modern age and made them relatable to new readers. Apart from a cameo in the previous issue this is the duo’s first appearance, and by reliving the highlights and low points of their first year together Bendis has engaged me in their storyline. Their first meeting is cemented in a real world environment, from there we follow them to prom, and the horrifying consequences of that night. The terror of the Roxxon experiments are illustrated masterfully by Marquez, who draws the scene as though it was a Hollywood horror movie. I can feel Ty and Tandy’s suffering.
It’s a testament to the strength of this issue that I haven’t even mentioned Miles yet. While half the issue is spent on the new origin for Cloak and Dagger, the other part of the issue is spent with Miles and his supporting cast. I really like that Bendis chose to keep Peter’s cast as a presence in this book, as it helps to tie the two Spider-men together. In this issue Gwen refers to events from the previous series to try to encourage Miles to return to the webs. Gwen’s “you get up” speech, to me, is the heart of the Spider-man concept. You fail, you get up, you try again. As a reader I found that compelling, and it clearly had an impact on Miles as well. While in the previous issue Ganke was unable to get through Miles’ resolve, here Gwen is able to make a small dent.
The downside of the Ultimate Universe is when established Marvel characters are used, when a new character could likely fill the role just as well. It can feel like pointless name dropping. In this issue a group of evil scientist are introduced, including Layla Miller and Arnim Zola. Versions of these characters have both played key roles in the main Marvel universe, and their inclusion here feels like wasted potential and at this junction at least it adds nothing to the story that we know she has a counter-part in an other reality.
Dave Marquez, as he’s credited in this issue, has become a favourite artist of mine throughout 2013. A good Spider-man artist should be able to illustrate a soap opera scene in as entertaining a manner as an action scene. Marquez has that skill. Gwen’s slap, and the subsequent conversation where as detailed and engaging as the action sequences. However I did have some troubles with the layouts which were chosen for some of his two page spreads. My instinct to go from left to right led me to read a few panels out of order, while not a huge detriment to the story, it did cause me to lose focus at key points.
Grade – B: Overall I found this to be a very enjoyable issue. Bendis has recreated Cloak and Dagger, and I am excited to see more of them, while Marquez illustrates scenes from a love story, an action movie and a sci-fi horror with ease.