Ultimate Comics Spider-Man – Volume 1

Brian Michael Bendis has impressed me no small number of times over the past, what, four years? This probably isn’t the most impressive thing he’s managed, and it’s probably not the first time I’ve thought it might be. But you have to admit, winning me over on a new Spider-Man is pretty impressive!

It’s just, as I have certainly said before, I have a real attachment to Peter Parker. So, when he died as a part of the Ultimate Universe reboot of ought-ten, I was not, how you say, thrilled. But the editors and (in the case at least) the authors had earned enough street cred for me to accept that life is permitted to go on; so I’ve stuck around to see what happens next. And what happens next happened previously, too, as is only fair. (Bendis in particular has always played with flashbacks to fill in events that happened simultaneously with the meat of his stories, and rightly so. I had no need of knowing about Miles Morales’ unlikely rendezvous with an Oscorp spider when Spider-Man was alive and the direction it was going to go was still hidden from everyone, Miles most of all.)

So, here we have an implausibly young[1] mixed-descent kid from Brooklyn (I think), who gets bitten by a different spider and develops different powers, just in time to fill the impossibly large shoes of a hero. I can accept the coincidence because it’s a superhero world, where coincidence is dictated by fate. And I can accept Miles, at least provisionally, for, well, a lot of reasons. Different powers. Universal unhappiness at his initial attempts to fill the shoes of said really big hero. His own willingness to help and learn from Peter’s example.[2] And, perhaps oddly, perhaps as fittingly as it’s possible to be, Nick Fury’s reaction to his existence.

I still think this was a huge mistake, and I still think the Ultimate Universe has lost something critical, last year. But I also think that this subsequent story will be worth hearing, and I really wasn’t sure about that in 2011.

[1] Peter was 15 when he was bitten, and possibly as old as 17 when… later. Miles can’t be older than 14, and 13 seems more right.
[2] Seriously, I welled up again at his perspective of the climax of final last book of the original run. Which answers that Moiraine question, I suppose.

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