Review: Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #3 by Brian Michael Bendis and Sarah Pichelli

Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #3

Written by: Brian Michael Bendis
Art by: Sarah Pichelli
Colored by: Justin Ponsor
Lettering by: VC’s Cory Petit

Published by: Marvel
Cover Price: $3.99

Note : This review is for the digital version of the comic available from Marvel Comics on Comixology

Most people who have followed me since I’ve come back to reviewing comics and writing columns just over a year ago probably assume I am a DC fanboy. Considering I’ve written 126 columns, news articles, and reviews about DC Relaunch, it’s an understandable confusion.

BUT, the truth is that for the most part, I am a much biggest Marvel fan than I am a DC fan. Marvel is what got me into superhero comics in the first place (X-Force, What If, and Silver Surfer back in the early 90’s), and when I came back to comics in 2000, the first books I read were Ultimate Spider-Man and Ultimate X-Men.

Unfortunately, I never really got into those books. I really wanted something more from them; too often they felt either “same old, same old” or like they were just trying too hard to be edgy. So I really haven’t followed the Ultimate line in a few years. As for mainstream Marvel, it has become so event-driven, I have no real interest in trying to keep up, which is why most of my attention goes to DC right now, but I am always looking for an opportunity to return to my first love.

When Marvel announced Miles Morales as the new Ultimate Spider-Man, and then made the first issue a same day digital release, I definitely had to check it out. I have been very impressed by this book, and I can honestly say, this is what Ultimate Spider-Man should have been from day one!

Summary (contains spoilers): At the end of issue 2, Miles realizes that in addition to his camouflage abilities and “venom stings” he can also climb walls. The only person he has told about any of this is his best friend, Ganke.

When this issue starts, Ganke is trying to convince Miles that since he was bit by a radioactive spider, that makes him Spider-Man. Miles is not as sold on the idea. Miles and Ganke decided to go visit Miles’ uncle Aaron…the Prowler. He was the one who robbed Osborn’s company and it was at his house that Miles got bit. When they arrive, Aaron has vanished, and his place is completely cleared out.

On the way back home, Miles sees a house on fire…man, why are apartment buildings always on fire in comics? With some encouragement from Ganke, Miles decides to try and save the day. He’s a little clumsy and unorthodox, but it works.

Despite saving the day, Miles is freaked out and swears that he won’t ever do this again. The world already has a Spider-Man who seems to love what he does. Miles is way out of his class here. Ganke reluctantly agrees.

Miles and Ganke go off to their new boarding home/charter school. This is a real personal gripe, but I have never heard of any boarding charter schools. I could be wrong about that. Miles seems to fit in, but has nightmares of being attacked by Electro. In the middle of the night, an emergency is called. Spider-Man (Peter Parker) has been shot and killed. The issue ends with Miles shocked by this news. So much for there being a Spider-Man out there who loves being a hero…

Review: It would have been so easy for Bendis to have taken the easy way out here and just rehashed the Peter Parker story. And I am sure there are a lot of people who have not read this book and assume that is exactly what is being done here. I can honestly say that it isn’t. Miles and his family feel very fleshed out, and definitely stand on their own as great characters. Yeah, there are some elements that feel a little too “taken from the headlines” (like Miles family hoping that he gets into a charter school), but over all, I think it works very well.

I love that this character has ties to Prowler, who has always been a favorite character of mine. I am definitely curious what happened to Uncle Aaron in this issue. Hopefully, this mystery will be resolved fairly quickly.  And, if not, I am here for the long haul anyway.

The one concern I have with this book is that it does seem to be very slow moving, but that is typical of Bendis. Bendis spends a lot more time developing his characters and giving them long dialogues. These does create some very real and rounded characters, but we are now three issues in, and nowhere near closer to understanding exactly how Miles ends up becoming Spider-Man. And with a 4 dollar cover price, you might feel ripped off if you come in here expecting much more story and action packed in to each issue.

That said, I have absolutely loved each issue. Taking the familiar Spider-Man themes and modernizing them into something fresh and exciting is exactly what the Ultimate line should be all about. Miles Morales is not Peter Parker, but at the same time, you still see a lot of “Spider-Man” in him. And Ganke is the best sidekick ever!

Sarah Picelli has done a great job with the characters, especially in the more laid back scenes. I did notice that some of the aerial sequences seem to have bodies contorted in inhuman ways. It’s not really that drastic or even noticeable, it just caught my eye in this issue. I guess I am just more used to see artists like Bagley who seem to have a hang for that kind of thing.

Ultimate Comics Spider-Man is a fun, well-written superhero comic. It really is everything I look for in a Spider-Man story, and I can’t wait to see more of Miles. Marvel had really put a lot of new energy into its Ultimate line, and they are finally what I always hoped they would be.  More on that tomorrow in my Ultimate Comics X-Men review.

Final Score: 9.0 This is exactly what I would have hoped the Ultimate line would be. New takes on the characters, keeping touch with familiar roots, but with a whole new feel! Yeah, it moves a little slow, but don’t let that distract you from one of the best superhero comics out at the moment.  Highly recommended.

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