“This is a circus of–of terror and confusion built specifically to torture and punish everyone who has ever crossed its maker. And the real punishment is: ignorance.”
People talk, the world goes white, and the reset button is pushed…over three months late.
WRITER: Brian Michael Bendis
PENCILER: Mark Bagley
INKER: Scott Hanna
COLORIST: Justin Ponsor
LETTERER: VC’s Cory Petit
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Manny Mederos
ASSISTANT EDITORS: Chris Robinson & Emily Shaw
ASSOCIATE EDITOR: Darren Shan
EDITOR: Mark Paniccia
STORY: Miles swings in to stop the warring heroes of two worlds. 616 Emma Frost shows what’s in his mind to all the heroes present and they deliberate on what to do for 13 pages. We hear the phone calls that Miles and Peter make to their loved ones as the heroes charge into battle for one panel before everyone starts to blink out of existence.
Miles wakes up to his mom, now alive and well. He swings into New York as Spider-Man.
THOUGHTS: Well, that was a waste of $21. I hate saying that. I suppose it’s not a total waste. I got five issues of Bagley drawing Spider-Man again, Ultimate and otherwise, but I bought five issues that gave me no real sense of payoff for the fifteen years I followed them. In fact, we don’t get an Ultimate Spider-Man, Peter or Miles, until this issue. No, one panel last issue doesn’t count.
So, Miles swoops in, gets his mind read, and the shock and bickering begins. With the 35 grids per page, I didn’t bother looking at the type to see if it was an Ultimate or 616 character talking and it didn’t really matter at the end of the day. Distrust of your fellow hero is par for the course, especially if they are a mutant, even though you know they’ve saved thousands in countless battles before.
There’s a lot happening without enough rhyme or reason. Ultimate Hulk is here. Old Man Logan just happens to show up and say “I’ve seen weird places!” and it’s enough to give him instant credibility. In a moment of irony, the Scarlet Witch, she of the “No more mutants” fame, asks “What if we can’t put everything back the way it was?”
Remember how the Ultimate Punisher opened this series with a monologue, taking aim at the heroes as they rushed toward each other in combat? Remember how Bendis featured his escape, how he murdered his doppelganger, slaughtered the Wrecking Crew, and finally got to his perch, taking us back to the beginning? Well, Miles’ entrance makes this trigger happy man take pause to assess the situation and when the Thors arrive he finally gets the clarity he’s been seeking and he whips out a massive bazooka and fires at the gods of thunder. They promptly fry him like a Hawkeye on a Wednesday and he seems at peace. I felt the whole setup was wasted. None of the heroes seemingly know or care-“Hey, there’s that guy we were chasing!” Nothing. Bigger fish, I suppose.
Miles remarks about worrying about all the people, proper hero stuff, mentioning how he’s lost his mom, just in case you forgot. Is that a continuity reference, or foreshadowing? Hmmmm….
On the 18th page, the Spideys decide to call their loved ones and Iron Man gets thrown in for good measure, too, as he has now supplanted Spidey as the official Marvel Mascot. Tony calls Pepper, recalling the end of Joss Whedon’s THE AVENGERS, Miles calls his dad, and Peter calls Ultimate Aunt May, I guess, figuring she’ll do. I’m assuming it’s her, as Bagley depicts a May with Ultimate Gwen packing. Any port in a storm? This Peter isn’t the “real” Peter of his world. That one was with Miles earlier in Secret Wars, but I have no idea where he went as I dropped that book once the delays started to set in.
Not wanting to spoil the eternally late Secret Wars finale in a satellite miniseries, Bagley depicts a page and a half panel of the heroes charging the Thors from the the Thors’ perspective. There’s our big battle, now relegated to three two page grid spreads of close-ups of the heroes winking out of existence. That $5 pricetag on the issue? You get two pages of beautifully detailed all white art in this section. They spared no expense. The prior two page spread has four small panels of the Spideys and Iron Men fading into oblivion. Remember, Iron Man is the new Spider-Man. When you’re making a comic about the end of the Ultimate Universe, created by those synonymous with the flagship title, Ultimate Spider-Man, make sure you’ve got enough Iron Man in the story. Who needs to see Spidey, any Spidey, a character who hasn’t seemed to have gotten enough focus?
There is one story point that sat well with me, one beat that brought me happiness at the end. As I turned the page, I saw Miles awakening to find his mom! Here’s something that gets forgotten a lot by people telling Spidey stories-yes, Spidey has some bad luck, but that doesn’t mean he never gets a victory or a happy ending. There has to be balance, otherwise it’s too overbearing. Upon first viewing, I really liked how Raimi handled the Parker Luck in SPIDER-MAN 2, but it got too oppressive with repeat viewings and the movie wasn’t as fun for me anymore. The less we can say about Byrne’s run where Spidey was homeless, unemployed, and widowed the better. All that is to say I don’t begrudge Miles having both his parents back in his life. That actually makes him more unique in the superhero landscape! It’s a powerful moment, expertly depicted by Bag’s pencils.
As we just mentioned a positive, let’s discuss another-the art. It’s easily the saving grace of this comic. I may have been disappointed with the story, but not how it looked. Yes, I felt cheated by some of the empty pages, but Bagley laid down some fine spreads and montages. A particular favorite is a two page spread with the classic Marvel characters on the left, and the Ultimate cast on the right. A little detail I appreciate is how the red part of Miles’ eye pieces seem to be elevated from his mask, compared to Peter’s where it all looks to be level. Every page (that has art) is gorgeous. I would expect nothing less from the man who holds the record for most consecutive Marvel issues. His pencils here are a fine testament to his time in the Ultimate U.
Now that the mini is finished, so much feels incomplete and unsaid. We see that Ganke and Judge make it to the All New Marvel, but I’m assuming Ultimate Gwen doesn’t. I really enjoyed that character and how she and Ganke were maybe having a thing. Plus, what was the point of bringing back Ultimate Peter? So he could ride off into the sunset with MJ? I can’t shake the feeling that this was all a waste. I almost felt the quote I chose above to top this review was written in a meta-textual fashion-that somehow we have angered the creator, Bendis, and now we must suffer as the tapestry woven in the Ultimate universe is going to get largely ignored. I’m sure some folks are fine with that, but for me, the Ultimate line was a breath of fresh air amidst its contemporary Amazing Spider-Man title and I stuck with it even as I abandoned the 616 books post One More Day. Granted, I did drop off from the monthly grind and caught up in trade, but I was still following along. It was a daring experiment and I am grateful for all the entertainment that Bendis, Bagley, and everyone else who was involved the past 15 years provided. It deserved better than a late, disjointed half ending.
Despite my dissatisfaction with the climax, the issue is beautiful to look at, keeping the grade from sinking too low. I may not have cared for how we got there, but I intend to follow Miles into this new Marvel Universe. Here’s hoping some clarity comes soon as Secret Wars finally ends and the new Spider-Man title debuts!
MY GRADE: C-
JAVI’S HUH?: Who was the girl with Ganke and Judge at the end? Guess we’ll know for sure in February!