Review: Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #19 by Brian Michael Bendis & Sara Pichelli

Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #19

Written by: Brian Michael Bendis
Art by: Sara 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 on Comixology

Warning! This review contains quite a few spoilers!

This is the second cover that featured Miles getting choked out by a villain. Not at all significant, but every time I looked at the cover, I couldn’t help but think of issue 8.

Also of interest to me was that in that comic, Spidey didn’t actually fight Scorpion. And in this issue, Spidey didn’t actually fight Venom.

Apparently, the lesson to be learned here is if you have Miles getting choked out on the cover, expect an issue that is fairly light in action, but full of very strong characterization.

And in a very weird coincidence I didn’t realize til I was looking for images for this review, Ultimate Comics Spider-Man 8 was also the last issue of this comic that I reviewed.

All right, now on to something readers might actually care about.  Another awesome issue of one of Marvel’s best series!

Summary (contains spoilers): Last issue ended with Betty Brant getting killed by Venom just as she was trying selling evidence that the new Spider-Man was Jefferson Davis (the real Spider-Man’s father). This issue starts with Miles working on perfecting his web swinging using the webshooters he got from Mary Jane.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t much web fluid in them, so an embarrassing video of Miles landing awkwardly on a lamppost ends up on the internet.

The next day at school, Ganke tells Miles that he thinks he can make some web fluid using the notes they got from Peter’s family.

Meanwhile, the Venom symbiote is on a rampage, attacking the ruins of Oscorp. A homicide detective named Maria Hill is looking into Betty Brant’s murder. She talks to Brant’s  former boss, J. Jonah Jameson, who says that Betty tried to sell him the story about the new Spider-Man’s identity, and that he turned her down flat. He had done one Spider-Man wrong, he had no intention of doing it again.

Back at the Morales’ house, reporters want to talk to Jefferson because of his heroic actions taking down HYDRA during their attempt at taking over the country. Jefferson doesn’t want the publicity because of his criminal past. Miles is impressed to find out that his dad was fighting HYDRA, but Jefferson refuses to talk about it, believing the press will get bored of the story soon enough.

Jefferson slips out to confront the reporters to find out how they found out where he lives, and the issue ends with Venom rawring at him.

Review: One thing that bugged me about this book is that even though I usually love Sara Pichelli’s art, I really don’t like how she draws Venom. The art on the rest of the issue is good as always, but something about the way she draws Venom just didn’t work for me. He just seemed like a big massive hulk of black with a tongue and teeth, and no real details. Maybe it’s because the symbiote is operating without a host, but it just looked unappealing to me. I never felt scared or intimidated by this version of Venom, it just looked off.

While there isn’t a lot of action in this book, I did think it was a great way to decompress after all the craziness from “Divided We Fall/United We Stand” story arcs that had been making their way through the Ultimate Universe. It was great to reestablish all the characters and see where things had landed.

I especially love all the great character moments, especially with Miles and Ganke. Miles hanging from a lamp post, and later trying to text Ganke in class made me smile. And then poor Ganke getting crushed under a knocked over camera man. Miles really does feel like a real teenager trying to cope with his weird life, and it’s always done in a realistic way. He’s not quite Peter Parker, but there is enough of Peter there for the reader to feel connected and say “Yes, this is Spider-Man!”

Also, everything with Jefferson was done really well. There is a lot of depth to his character, and you feel a lot of sympathy for his situation. Here is a man who deserves to be treated like a hero, but because of his past, he would rather remain in obscurity in order to keep his past from catching up to him. We already saw hints of that during the Prowler arc, and I am real curious to see where Jefferson’s story is heading. I am not sure if it would work, but part of me would be very curious to see what happens if Jefferson becomes a crook again and how Miles would deal with that.

I also thought the Betty Brant murder, and the fallout with JJJ was really well done. Jonah’s guilt and attempts to make up for his treatment of Peter Parker has become a strong part of the character.

Ultimate Comics Spider-Man continues to be one of Marvel’s most solid titles. Even after 12 years on this book, Bendis has plenty to show us, and it definitely will be the book he’s remembered for. I can definitely think of far worse legacies.

Final Score: 8.5:  Basically just a lead in issue for Venom War, but still a great read. Ultimate Comics Spider-Man continues to be the most consistently good Ultimate book Marvel puts out.

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