Miles Morales: The Ultimate Spider-Man #1
Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Art by Dave Marquez
Colors by Justin Ponsor
Published by Marvel Comics
It’s been seven months since an issue of Ultimate Spider-Man that wasn’t tied into the Cataclysm event came out. Between this issue and the last, Miles Morales has fought Galactus, seen heroes like Captain America and Thor die, and most importantly revealed his secret identity to his father. His father blamed him for his mother’s death and has been missing ever since. Miles Morales: Ultimate Spider-Man #1 does an excellent job dealing with Miles’ emotions about his father leaving him as well as showing him struggling with revealing his secret identity to his girlfriend Katie Bishop (not Hawkeye) and setting up some new villains. Dave Marquez mostly gets to illustrate talking heads in this comics, but the main action scene he draws has a unique panel structure and has a lot of small panels to create a “slow-mo” effect and show the speed of the attackers. Justin Ponsor’s contribute to the darker tone of the story in contrast with the fiery orange of his explosions.
With the Roxxon conspiracy storyline and other teen heroes (Cloak and Dagger, Bombshell) moved over to the All-New Ultimates title, Ultimate Spider-Man is back to focusing on Miles Morales, his friends, and problems. After making sporadic appearances in the last volume of Ultimate Spider-Man, Brian Michael Bendis begins to develop Katie Bishop’s character. Marquez’s art shows how much she cares for Miles, who is going through a hard time in his life along with being unsure if he should tell Katie if he’s Spider-Man. This tension is reminiscent of Peter’s early days as Spider-Man before he told Mary Jane his secret identity, and Mary Jane gets a guest appearance to talk to Miles about this. But this comic isn’t all about feelings and talking. Bendis creates a pair of mysterious new villains that Miles will eventually fight as well re-introducing a new foe. He is trying to tie in Miles Morales: Ultimate Spider-Man #1 with his previous work while exploring a character, who is going through things that Peter Parker never experienced.
Dave Marquez continues Ultimate Spider-Man‘s tradition of artistic excellence in Miles Morales: Ultimate Spider-Man #1. This is a comic that is concerned with its characters’ emotions and interactions along with superhero action. Marquez’s figures are filled with emotion and aren’t just static figures with a couple expressions. In the scene where Katie talks to Miles about his father and why he didn’t answer her texts, he swings from melancholy to rage and finally a bit of happiness as Katie slowly moves closer to him. Readers haven’t seen much of Katie and Miles’ relationship, but Marquez’s art shows the bond between them. And when the action comes, Marquez’s art picks up steam as he devotes a multi-paneled splash page to revealing Spider-Man’s new foes while still keeping them mysterious. Ponsor’s colors amplify this scene as it goes from two Brooklyn cops chatting about Captain America’s death on a cold, dark night to two nimble supervillains beating them up and taking something very important in a timely fashion. He uses a darker palette the whole comic to contrast this Spider-Man book with the more action packed and upbeat Amazing Spider-Man.
Miles Morales: Ultimate Spider-Man #1 is a strong start to this new title and definitely the best of the three new Ultimate Universe books. Miles Morales is Brian Michael Bendis’ baby, and he returns Ultimate Spider-Man to its character driven roots while making the tone a little bit darker because of what Miles has gone through lately. This book isn’t all gloom and doom though. Bendis includes some humorous banter between Miles and his best friend Ganke as well as two policemen talking about the revolving door of death in the Ultimate Universe. (Ironically, most heroes stay dead in this universe.) With dynamic visuals from Marquez and Ponsor and a few plot twists, Miles Morales: Ultimate Spider-Man #1 is a return to this title’s (and the Ultimate Universe’s) glory days.