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.
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
In 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?
Bendis 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”.
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.