FINAL ISSUE! Will Bendis wrap up all his loose ends? Spoilers-no.
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: David Marquez
Color: Justin Ponsor
Lettering: VC’s Cory Petit
Cover Art: David Marquez with Justin Ponsor
Production: Irene Y. Lee
Assistant Editors: Emily Shaw & Chris Robinson
Editor: Mark Paniccia
Story: Judge realizes something is up when he notices Miles, Ganke, and Katie are all absent in class and goes investigating. Miles wakes up in costume in the clutches of Doom and Hydra. As they begin their tests on him, he unleashes a new power. Cloak and Dagger come across Judge and they start rallying friends to look for Miles. They realize they’ve located him when a building they are checking out has a Doombot fly out of it. The battle has already been won by the good guys and as they start to breathe a sigh of relief, the skies go red and another planet looms in the sky…
Thoughts: Well, here we are. The last issue of Miles Morales: The Ultimate Spider-Man. Part of me feels I should eulogize this all too short series, and the other half feels I should wait till the conclusion of Ultimate End. Obviously, if you’ve followed Marvel’s publicity machine, you know this isn’t the end for Miles…yet. He is prominently featured in the advertising of next month’s Secret Wars. However, this is the finale of a comic with the words Ultimate Spider-Man in it and consequently does feel like the end of an era for me.
The issue opens up with Judge in school and the teacher noticing that Miles, Ganke, and Katie are all absent. Judge quickly goes off to investigate their dorm room and finds it ransacked. I was happy to see Bendis bring him back last issue and even happier to see it continue in this one. It’s appreciated that in the Ultimate world, smart people in comics can put two and two together and realize a hero’s identity.
Miles wakes up in darkness and in costume only to find he is being restrained in midair. Marquez gives us a theatrical two page layout showcasing the Hydra secret lab filled with Hydra goons and Doombots galore. It looks like something out of a Bond movie, with Miles and Jessica both trapped in glowing, transparent cubes. With a captive audience, Doom starts monologuing amidst another amazing two page layout by Marquez that features a Hydra logo covered by the various panels.
I was very appreciative, as Doom gave his speech, that I had bothered to read Miles’ guest appearance in All-New X-Men. It definitely gave Doom a reason to get involved outside of him apparently already being in talks of a merger with Hydra. I’m assuming then, that the Fly Twins are part of that, that their thefts were to aid Doom and Hydra rebuild their organization. As Doom says that in a year’s time no one will recognize the world, it feels as if Bendis is talking directly to the reader.
Judge heads over to Miles’ dad’s place and finds it in shambles, too. He gets startled by the sudden appearance of Cloak and Dagger, who then start assembling the Ultimates to find out what exactly is going on. Bendis does a great job starting to build momentum and urgency as this scene transitions to Miles being tortured and dissected.
As one would expect, the bad guys don’t care one whit about our hero and Bendis injects a small amount of humor when Bishop tells Doom that he would hug him, but Doom doesn’t seem the type. As they continue to obtain live tissue samples, Katie cowers in a corner, crying. Suddenly, Miles starts to glow from the inside out and lets out a massive shock that bears resemblance to a spider’s web. We never get an explanation for what exactly this new power is, causing me to wonder if it’s somehow tied into his venom blasts. Whilst it frees him and Jessica, it also takes a lot out of him. It reminded me of Superman’s new power in that regard, but as we’ll see with Miles, it doesn’t drain him as totally as the Distinguished Competition’s Man of Steel.
Back in our friendly neighborhood Brooklyn 70th Precinct Police Department, it looks like the detectives who bear a passing resemblance to Bendis and Marquez are congratulating themselves on a job well done. Meanwhile, another person in a costume, this time a Captain Universe one, is ranting about how he should be blamed for something. I’ve seen him identified online as Secret Wars writer Jonathan Hickman, a fun in-joke if accurate!
The All-New Ultimates then ‘port in to Maria Hill’s office and recruit her as she’s a friend. I actually find it kinda touching that they viewed her that way and bring her along for the ride. I liked seeing all these different facets of Miles’ life unify together to come to the rescue.
Cutting back to the lab, Miles takes the Fly Twins out together in one panel. One. Panel. We’ve had TWELVE issues of buildup for this and the confrontation lasts one frickin’ panel! Granted, that one panel takes up half a page, but I can’t make up my mind if I find it funny or feel cheated that this is what it boiled down to, especially after they took out Black Widow last issue.
Things get tense as Mr. Bishop puts a gun to a seemingly unconscious Jessica Drew’s head, but the last thing we see is her eye starting to peek open before we jump back to the Ultimates. They get a lead on Miles’ location and Cloak teleports them all over, Judge included. At this point I had to wonder why he’s still with them. Sure, he initiated the hunt, but he’s a normal civilian. Granted, no one knows that they’re walking into a Hydra/Doom base, but I would’ve assumed someone would say it’s not safe for him. Before the team makes the jump to Staten Island, you can spot Bendis and Marquez peeping in at the gathering of heroes. Too funny.
Another part where I felt cheated was when the heroes arrived inside. Marquez has a panel that takes up the top third of a two page spread of Miles decking Doctor Doom. It looks great and impresses the hell out of his rescue squad that are apparently unneeded. Yes, folks, Miles takes down Doom, his Doombots, the Fly Twins, and all of Hydra almost singlehandedly and we don’t see it. Presumably, since Jessica was starting to wake up in the last panel, she was in on the action, except Dagger helps her off the ground and our Ultimate Black Widow asks what she missed. Even though you can’t see her face, you can imagine Maria Hill’s satisfaction that at long last the Fly Twins are apprehended.
As everyone takes stock of the situation, Miles has a funny bit when he sees Judge, thanking him as long as he’s not part of some evil organization. He then turns his attention to Katie and officially breaks up with her. Officially. I think Katie does care for Miles genuinely, but she also seems to have had too much of the Hydra Kool-Aid. Dagger getting to dismiss someone she clearly dislikes caused a guilty laugh out of me.
As the gang gathers round and reunites, you can feel the love from all the different aspects of Miles’ life. Bendis reunites many, but not all of the key players in this book as they are about to face the end. It’s very much an “out of the frying pan, into the fire” type moment.
So, there we have it, folks. Bendis throws in some great moments, Marquez still seems a little rushed this issue, but it’s still pretty to look at, and this chapter of Miles’ story is closed. It was fun. As you can tell by my grades, I’ve really enjoyed this series. Despite feeling slighted on a few moments as we rushed to the end, I still had a good time reading and enjoying the final issue. When it comes to stories, I think one can tend to expect endings to all be wrapped up in a nice big bow at the story’s conclusion. Real life isn’t like that, however. In striving to have a more realistic, modern tone, the Ultimate line has always veered toward the unconventional, be it the deaths of mainstay characters or re-imaging classic stories. So, in keeping with this, I guess it’s fitting that not everything is answered and that there isn’t a happily ever after/ride off into the sunset moment for this book.
This twelve issue series brought back Peter Parker, featured the deaths of Norman Osborn and J. Jonah Jameson, saw Miles revealing his identity to his girlfriend, and finally told us the back story of Miles’ dad. That’s a pretty decent list for such a short run! I’m gonna miss the artwork of Marquez on Ultimate End next month, but I am once again HIGHLY anticipating the return of Mark Bagley to Spidey in general, and the Ultimate line in particular. It’s only fitting if this truly is the end.