Ultimate 10: The Best Moments of Ultimate Spider-Man (Part 1)

Peter and MilesBig Time Hero…

This April will see the release of Ultimate Spider-Man #200.

Brian Michael Bendis and a plethora of artists have been working on this saga for the last 14 years and together have created a modern mythology for the origin of Spider-Man.

The artists have included top industry talent such as Mark Bagley, Stuart Immonen, Mark Brooks and Scottie Young, while also giving rising stars like David Lafuente and Sara Pichelli an opportunity to draw the Ultimate version of Marvel’s flagship character.

They have chronicled the story of how Peter Parker went from reclusive nerd, to the hero of New York. And now Bendis and Dave Marquez continue the legacy with Peter’s heir, Miles Morales, as he faces new and bigger challenges.

To celebrate this proud milestone, the Crawlspace is counting down our top ten Ultimate Spider-Man moments. Some are great visuals, others engaging story beats, the best are when art and story synchronise and make a scene that stays with you long after reading.


10. If you like fighting symbiotes, and getting caught in the rain…

In Ultimate Spider-Man #37, Peter Parker faces off against his childhood friend, Eddie Brook Jr. Despite having his costume destroyed in the previous issue, Peter is forced into action in order to distract Brook and lure him away from Midtown High. Peter and Eddie (possessed by the Venom suit) face off outside the school, as the rain pours down around them.

Rain check?

Rain check?

The scene feels cinematic, and Bagley perfectly renders the tense atmosphere that exists between the two characters by this point in the story. The distance betweem them is practically a third person in this scene. Someone over at Marvel obviously felt this scene had merit, as it was later used as the opening level of the 2005 video game; Ultimate Spider-Man.

This arc is one of my favourites from the original series as it has a darker tone than many of the others and was a change of pace for the book, which until then had focused more on teen drama and super-hero action/adventure.


9. Samson and the three Delilahs

Were Peter’s bangs in fashion in 2000? If they were they became out dated very quickly and after years, literally years, of fans complaining about Peter’s haircut, Marvel finally listened. Peter’s trademark do made it’s final appearance in Ultimate Comics Spider-Man (Volume 1) #9.

It took the combined powers of Mary Jane, Gwen, and Kitty but eventually the greatest style disaster since…okay I don’t know anything about hair history, but our international torture come to an end when the trio forced Peter Parker to face an enemy that proved too much for him. Scissors. It’s a moment of pure comedy, and one I think we were all thankful for.

In retrospect though I worry that this was the beginning of the end. Maybe his powers didn’t come from a genetically altered arachnid or a Spider-God, his power may have been in his terrible haircut. For not long after the girls took his hair…


8. The Last Stand of Peter Parker

This is everything you could ever want from the death of Peter Parker. Those words carry a weight to them in comic circles and issue #160 of Ultimate Comics Spider-Man (Volume 1) really delivered the goods.

Peter’s comic-timing is on fire throughout the issue as he battles the Green Goblin to protect his neighbours and Aunt May from certain destruction. His final words to the Green Goblin are perfect, and show how tired he has become of their constant battle, but his words to Aunt May are enough to make a grown man almost cry. Almost…

Having the original series artist, Mark Bagley, return for this scene helped give the story some gravitas, as for so many readers his Spider-Man is the Spider-Man. The Spider-Man on your lunchbox. This ultimate sacrifice is the perfect ending to Peter’s story, and is a showcase for his strength and his humour. The moment takes on greater significance later when we learn this is Miles’ “Uncle Ben moment”. Had he embraced his powers sooner, he feels he could have prevented Peter’s death. This scene ended the career of one Spider-Man but launched the career of the next generation.


7. Make him angry, I like him when he’s angry

Miles smashIn September 2011 DC comics relaunched their entire comics line, and argueable Ultimate Comics Spider-Man was one of the best relaunches of the month. Ultimate Comics Spider-Man (Volume 2) was a critical success and debuted a new Spider-Man in the form of Miles Morales.

It was certainly attention grabbing and filled with great characters. The weakest of which, unfortunately, was the lead. For several issues I failed to see what separated Miles from the previous Spider-Man. Then in Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #10 I feel we finally saw what made Miles interesting. The kid can get angry and in a way Peter Parker never could. When Miles’ Uncle threatens to reveal his secret to their family, Miles gets mad, and enters into one of his fiercest battles.

The issue was illustrated by David Marquez, a new comer to the series at the time, though now he is the series main artist, not surprising considering he is the first talent who truly brought Miles to life.


6. What’s so special about this Peter Parker?

EverythingBendis has really used this series to explore Peter’s supporting cast. There was an entire issue based on Aunt May’s visits to her therapist. Picture that in the mainstream series. It just would not happen.

One of the highlights of this approach was in Ultimate Spider-Man #78. Following Gwen’s “death” Peter and Mary-Jane had broken-up (again). While Spider-Man was living life under a Peter Parker: No More philosophy, MJ was being encouraged to do the same, and began dating Mark Raxton.

While out on a date MJ and Mark share a moment, and it seemed she was beginning to leave her feelings for Peter behind. Then Bendis’ gifts MJ with an epiphany, where she not only acknowledges her past mistakes, but vows to show Peter how much she loves him. Mark, probably a little rejected, asks “What’s so special about this Peter Parker?”

Bendis and Bagley deliver a final page, that captures MJ’s mood and loyalty perfectly. MJ looks each reader in the eye, and simply responds “Everything”.


Next time…

Have we missed your favourite Ultimate Spider-Man moment…don’t worry this is only the half way point. We still have five more Ultimate moments to count down. If you’ve got any guesses please comment, you never know you might remind me of something I’ve forgotten about.

– Adam

(18) Comments

  1. hornacek

    If I had unlimited funds I'd probably buy every comic talked about on this site/podcast. Unfortunately all of the bottles I have rubbed over the years have just gotten me cleaner bottles and no genies.

  2. Adam Tomlinson

    No worries about going off topic, it's all good comic talk. I feel the same about Hellboy as you do Ultimate. If I don't know it's good, I'm not missing out.

  3. hornacek

    Yeah, it seems that I have been involved in a few Crawl Space posts recently where I have eventually gone completely off topic. I will try to keep within the lines. I am fairly ambivalent to the Ultimate universe. Having never read any issues I can't say I like it or hate it, it's just something I have no interest in. USM has consistently gotten good reviews on here - in many Satellite review podcasts it was the lone ray of sunshine among all the other bad comics Kevin had to read that month - so I recognize that USM may be a book I would enjoy if I started buying it, but if I'm not buying it I don't feel as if I'm missing out on anything. That may seems like a back-handed compliment but it's as good as I can put it.

  4. Adam Tomlinson

    This is going way off topic from where we started, but I thought I would hate SS-M, like you I had no interest in an imposter. But when all is said and done Peter will probably have been in over half the issues, and the story does seem to be leading to the conclusion that Peter is in fact the Superior Spider-Man. Have you tried any of the Miles issues. He is not Peter, but I feel his stories capture the essence of Spider-Man better than SS-M

  5. hornacek

    I haven't read any SSM so I have no standing in saying if the issues are good or bad. But as someone who wants to read about Spider-Man and not some impostor, whether the title has been great or not is irrelevant to me in the long run. My collection will go from ASM #700 to ASM #1, and years from now, when I'm looking through my long boxes and notice the gap I'll think "oh yeah, that was when Marvel killed the character off for a year and replaced him with Doc Ock, what were they thinking???" Maybe this makes me sound like a grumpy old man, and history may prove me wrong, but I don't think I'll be missing much.

  6. Nick MB

    @12 But then they'll miss out on reading the Superior books which were actually quite good. The fact you can skip over comics and just read a plot summary doesn't mean you should - otherwise, what's the point in the writer/artist spending time on making the things? Execution is important.

  7. hornacek

    With Battle of the Atom that was a crossover of multiple books so it's not the same as one book renumbering for no reason. Personally, I would like it if, after Superior, ASM started with #701. Many years from now, I really don't think that if someone is reading back issues and goes from ASM #700 to ASM #1 without reading any Superior issues, they will miss very much or be lost. All they would need in their collection is a one page summary sheet saying "For awhile, Peter was dead and Doctor Octopus took over his life. But then Peter got better and became Spider-Man again." Of course, that could change with Goblin Nation and changes that may occur in that. And maybe it's just personal preference, but I just don't see the point of renumbering a book to #1 just because a new writer/artist comes on, or even if there is a major status quo change. If that was the rule then most books would never make it to issue #50, and only in very rare cases would a book make it to #100. ASM has gone through many many writer/artist changes without renumbering, same with other long-running Marvel and D.C. books, and they managed to keep going, even bringing in new readers when new talent joined the book (i.e. the readership increase when JMS took over for Mackie). You don't need to renumber to #1 to get new readers. It reminds me of Sergio Aragones' Groo the Wanderer. When it was at Marvel (it was at multiple publishers) Sergio joked that #1 issues sold better so he wanted to increase sales by making every issue a #1. He was joking, but I'm surprised Marvel didn't read that and decide to run with it.

  8. Adam Tomlinson

    To me the numbers don't make sense anyway. To read Battle of the Atom for example the reading order is: Battle of the Atom 1 All New X-Mem 16 X-Men 5 Uncanny X-Men 12 Wolverine and the X-Men 36 and so. If Amazing returned with 701, reading 700 and 701 concurrently wouldn't make sense. I like the idea of renumbering when a new writer comes on, or after a major status quo change. If you like Matt Fraction, here's his Fantastic Four run, if you like James Robinson, here's his. There's no reason to keep the numbering as Robinson and Fractions story will have less in common than season two and three of Breaking Bad. Well, we don't need to figure it out :) the comic companies haven't even figured out how to make this work.

  9. hornacek

    I've heard the tv analogy many times, but to me it's not apt. A season of tv has a beginning and an end, and then there's a break before the next season ends - during that break there are no new episodes. For a comic, it doesn't stop (unless it's cancelled), it just keeps going on and on. For a comic to say "this issue is #24 and next month is #1 instead of #25" just seems arbitrary and silly to me.

  10. Adam Tomlinson

    I've worried about numbering a lot less since Neil Gaiman commented on the confusion over Doctor Who last year. He's exactly right. It's just a means of identifying things, no greater significance than that. Renumbering makes a certain sense, we restart TV shows every year (season 2 episode 1 etc), but they still celebrate milestone 100 episodes. I'm really looking forward to this as a celebration of one writers vision delivering consistent quality for 14 years.

  11. Nick MB

    I think the only real question is whether they include Superior in the count whenever they return ASM to original numbering. On the one hand, it was the core Spidey title during its run, but on the other, it wasn't Peter. Could go either way, really.

  12. Old Guy

    Wait till they renumber Amazing Spider-Man. They will probably count issues, annuals, point ones, specials and who knows what else and release Amazing Spider-man #800 when the next movie comes out, with eight hundred variant covers.

  13. hornacek

    Oh man, someone is straining to do some explaining! Annuals don't count in the numbering of the monthly issues!

  14. Adam S.

    What counts, more or less, according to Bendis: http://brianmichaelbendis.tumblr.com/post/73553809784/so-since-ultimate-spider-man-200-is-being-released-in

  15. Adam Tomlinson

    If I had to guess I think it's: 187 regular issues 7 issues from the Ultimate 6 mini series 2 issues from Ultimate Requirum 3 annuals To make 199 previous issues. I think they're ignoring the 3 Cataclysm issues, and Ultimate Team-Up and it's Super Special.

  16. hornacek

    Is this #200 an accurate issue count? i.e. if they had never renumbered USM since it first started would this issue actually be #200? I'm guessing that the following month's issue will go back to it's single/double-digit issue number instead of #201 Or is this just some big-number marketing ploy where they just pick a large round number, like a few years ago when they released Deadpool Team-Up #900? And that comic's subsequent issue numbers decreased instead of increased, what was that about?

  17. daniel kibler

    I really liked the ultimate clone saga, in my opinion it carried on the same spark the original clone saga had without being overtly long. I also really enjoyed the first volume which showcased his origin story. Bendis did a good job modernizing it.

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