This post contains minor spoilers for the first six issues of Ultimate Comics Spider-Man
Aside from my own personal investment in Miles Morales becoming the new Ultimate universe Spider-Man, I had concerns. For starters, Ultimate Spider-Man was the best incarnation of the character and was the only book that I felt writer Brian Michael Bendis still did solid consistent work. I hated that Peter Parker had to die for us to get here. More importantly, I was afraid of Bendis writing a biracial character who already meant a lot to me before the first issue hit the stands.
I am glad to report that the first few issues of Ultimate Spider-Man: Volume Two have been great. Bendis has a great handle on the character he created. Some might complain that this first arc is going slowly and is another example of Bendis' notoriously writing for trade, but I appreciate the time he is taking to establish Miles Morales and the world he inhabits. Miles is not Peter Parker. He's not a kid who doesn't have his parents or was bullied in school. The first thing he does when he discovers he's gotten these powers is tell his best friend, Ganke. Peter was motivated to become Spider-Man by the death of his Uncle Ben. Miles is inspired by the death of Peter Parker and some words from his best friend, Gwen Stacy.
While the writing has been good so far, what has stood out to be is the art by Sara Pichelli. I wasn't familiar with her work prior to this book, but she is responsible for one of the best looking books on the stands. Her style is like a combination of the last two Ultimate Spider-Man artists, Mark Bagley and Stuart Immonen. Given the lack of female creators at Marvel and DC, it's refreshing to see Pichelli get such high profile work and killing it.
I wish I could say the book is perfect, but I was bothered by two things. Our first scene with Miles with his parents at a lottery to attend fictional charter school Brooklyn Visions Academy. Miles gets in and, instead of being happy, he's feels bad for the other kids who didn't get in. This scene is clearly inspired by the documentary Waiting for Superman. While it is an effective moment to show what kind of person Miles is, I think the issues surrounding that documentary and charter schools in general are too complicated to shoehorn into a comic.
The other thing that bothered me is finding out that Miles' father had been to jail. He's not a super villain or anything (they saved that for Miles' uncle, Aaron, who is revealed to be the Ultimate version of Prowler) but it still made me groan a little bit. I understand why Bendis did this from a character development standpoint, but I thought having a burglar for an uncle would be enough.
Regardless, Ultimate Comics Spider-Man is a great start to a great new character. It is tied to the Peter Parker stories but you could probably still enjoy them if you started fresh (Marvel made sure that The Ultimates -- the Ultimate universe version of the Avengers -- looked more like their movie counterparts for new readers). The first six issues are available in stores, digitally or you can wait until February to by the first trade paperback collection.
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