Review: Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #23 by Brian Michael Bendis & Dave Marquez

Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #23

Written by: Brian Michael Bendis
Art by: Dave Marquez
Colored by: Justin Ponsor
Lettered 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!

Summary (contains spoilers): Last issue, at the end of Spider-Man’s battle with Venom, his mother was killed (by a cop who attempted to shoot Venom, and the bullet went right through Venom), and Miles had decided to stop being Spider-Man. This issue picks up a year afterwards. Miles has kept his word and not been Spider-Man since, despite the best attempts by both Ganke (his best friend) and Spider-Woman (a clone of Peter Parker) to convince him otherwise.

SHIELD even makes him a new costume after he destroyed his at the end of the last issue. But none of it is enough to get Miles to become Spider-Man again.

He goes out for dinner with his father at a new Chinese restaurant, where he runs into Gwen Stacy who works there. Gwen tries to get him to talk to her about what he’s feeling, but he withdraws further. Miles and his dad are about to leave, when Miles’ spider-sense goes crazy, and there is a loud explosion outside. Miles sees Cloak and Dagger fighting with Bombshell, and that is where the issue ends.

Review: The cover and issue were a great homage back to Amazing Spider-Man 50. In that classic issue, Spider-Man is brought back to action when Kingpin shows up. In Ultimate Comics Spider-Man, Miles seems to be avoiding getting drawn back into the Spider-life so far, but at the end of the issue, his father (and Gwen) are in danger as innocent bystanders in a fight between Cloak & Dagger and Bombshell. Not quite the same threat level as the MF’in Kingpin…if this is all it took to draw Spider-Man back to action, I am amazed he’s stayed out this long. This kind of thing is probably a weekly basis in the fictional New York City.

Just as an aside, this issue marks the first “official” appearance of Cloak and Dagger in the Ultimate Universe. There have been some teased, and there was even a character named Tandy Bowen who has shown up a handful of times in Ultimate Spider-Man, so I am curious if this Dagger is connected to that Tandy…

After the craziness of the last few issues, this episode was a much needed slow down. Setting it a year later and seeing how Miles has grown in that time was a pretty brave choice; it paid off perfectly. This issue seemed short on story and action, but it was full of solid characterization. I sort of worry that this “one year later” throws Ultimate Comics Spider-Man out of sync with the other Ultimate books, but I have to admit, I have stopped following Ultimate Comics X-Men and Ultimate Comics Ultimates after United We Stand.

One thing that sort of bugged me about this issue was that during the Venom War story, reporters were poking around, certain that Miles’ dad was Spider-Man. With Spider-Man basically vanishing for a year after the death of Miles’ Mom at the hands of Venom, you would think this would have drawn a lot of attention to the family. I would have liked to see this addressed some in the story. I know it’s been a year, and maybe the heat has died down a bit, but it still just seemed like a strange thread to have vanished.

Also at the end of the last issue, it was implied that Roxxon was trying to make their own Spider-Man:

Again, if a year has passed, it feels like this story should have evolved some, but it doesn’t show up in this issue at all. I don’t mind when writers play a long game, but I hate when interesting threads get forgotten. I wanted to see Miles forced to become Spider-Man again to deal with Roxxon’s own Spider-Man.

Dave Marquez’s art on this issue was great. There were so many great emotional moments throughout this issue:

And Marquez handled them perfectly.  I did sort of thing the splash page at the end wasn’t quite as cool as it could have been, but that is mostly just personal preference. And I don’t care if people call me sexist or a perv, but I like Dagger’s older more revealing costumes. The full white body suit is just kind of boring.

I know a lot of Bendis critics will say “nothing really happened” in this issue, but I think that worked perfectly. Bendis does the quiet character moments better than anyone else in comics. When partnered with an artist (like Dave Marquez or Sara Pichelli), it creates some terrific comics. Ultimate Comics Spider-Man continues to impress and surprise me month after month. Bendis took on a huge challenge in “ultimatizing” Spider-Man No More, and I think he succeeded admirably here!

Final Score: 8.0: Another terrific issue of one of Marvel’s best comics. I kind of feel repetitive when I told about Ultimate Comics Spider-Man…there are only so many ways to say “BUY THIS GREAT COMIC!”

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