Friday, September 16, 2011

Ultimate Spider-Man #1 Review

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Sara Pichelli
Colorist: Justin Ponsor
Cover: Kaare Andrews

For those unfamiliar with what’s happening in the Marvel-verse I suggest you get reacquainted before reading on. Peter Parker is dead. Miles Morales is Spider-Man -- at least in the ultimate comic line. Yes Peter Parker will most likely come back to life in some weird hackneyed way, but for now we have Miles as the new Ultimate Spider-Man. 

Some news outlets glommed onto the fact that Miles is of mixed race, as if that were an actual headline. Being of mix race myself, I found the reveal that Miles was half Black and half Hispanic nothing special. You see far more diversity in comics than you do in any other form of media. And a non-Caucasian protagonist doesn’t make comic nerds jump out of their seats, especially when it pertains to Marvel. Haven’t the X-Men been an allegory for social, political, racial, and sexual discrimination for some 50 years? So chill if you think this is a groundbreaking event.

Now to the actual comic. It’s a solid read, that’s the takeaway. Miles Morales’ origin may be better once it’s a collected trade. As a singular read it’s light fluff. It’s a thin origin story with some family drama thrown in. The biggest conflict is seen between Miles father and his uncle. I won’t spoil much, but a radioactive spider does still come into play. How else do you get spider powers? 

Miles' uncle AKA Snoop Dogg.

You can see the foundation of conflicts Miles will face. He comes from a lower to middle class family and the future looks bright upon acceptance to a prestigious charter school. Well, he actual wins his position in a lottery, and doesn’t feel too happy about it either. It’s also hard to say whether or not he has a good or bad relationship with his father and mother. Those things will need to play out.

The final panel gives us our first look into how Miles’ powers will differ from Peter’s. As for Miles donning the suit…he doesn’t, not in this issue. What will make Miles want to become a superhero? Is it because he has the power, or does he feel obligated to his fellow man? Ultimate Spider-Man gives us much to think about and very little answers. I think Bendis has some interesting ideas for Spidey, but after this first issue I’m not entirely thrilled to pick up the next issue of Ultimate Spider-Man.

Suffice it to say Ultimate Spider-Man #1 doesn’t have much meat on the bones, or any in some regards. I think Marvel has an uphill climb and I don’t think fans are clambering for the next issue. A pigment change doesn’t alter Spider-Man’s personality, in fact it’s irrelevant; Miles has to show why he’s different from Peter – skin tone doesn’t count! It sounds highfalutin but we do need justification for why Miles is taking on the Spider-Man mantel. Readers don’t want this to be purely a gimmick. I’m not so sure that it isn’t.  

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