Spider-Man #3 Writer: Brian Michael Bendis Artist: Sara Pichelli Color …
Things are going to get worse before they get better. In Miles Morales’ short career as a hero, he’s dealt with Venom, losing his parents in some form or fashion, and the end of the world as he knew it. In Spider-Man #2, his next biggest challenge rears its ugly head: the citizens’ public opinion of Spider-Man.
When all is said and done, Bendis, Pichelli, and Ponsor have ushered in another fantastic entry in Miles Morales’ stint as Spider-Man with Spider-Man #1. With a new universe to explore, joining the Avengers, and having the blessing of the label as THE Friendly Neighborhood Spidey, the future for both Miles and this title has never looked better.
Spider-Man/Deadpool #1 is filled with jokes, sexual tension, gross out gags, and slightly self-aware supervillains galore all from the wacky mind palace of Deadpool legend (and basically daddy) Joe Kelly. Ed McGuinness and Mark Morales’ art is slick with a side of disgusting and helps the story move on at a bouncy pace. There may be an overreliance on bathroom humor due to this issue’s villain, but there’s also jokes about Uber’s labor practices and some great puns for folks whose eyebrows are glued on higher than the rest of us. Early on, there seems to be a gap between the Hydro Man battle and Deadpool accidentally teleporting him and Dormammu to Hell, but by the final page all his revealed along with the series’ hook. It’s another Deadpool redemption story, but this time with Spider-Man as his goofy guardian angel. But his path isn’t as simple as that last sentence. (Deadpool does have a handy morality choosing gadget that is McGuinness’ best visual funny.)
All throughout the issue, readers are granted a great example of colors from Richard Isanove, and how they blend to make each character look distinct. Every member of the Team has colors that render them dynamic and lets them exude a personality all on their own. If this issue is anything to go by, the Uncanny Avengers will be in good hands under Gerry Duggan’s dialogue, character portrayals as well Ryan Stegman and the rest of the art team making the Unity Squad a team to look out for.
In a sentence, Ultimatum is the superhero comic that will make you hate superhero comics and will have you reading nothing but Harvey Pekar, R. Crumb, and Daniel Clowes for the rest of your comics reading career. (My apologies to Fantagraphics.) Jeph Loeb really should have apologized to Mark Millar and Brian Michael Bendis for destroying their carefully crafted, simultaneously optimistic and nihilistic universe with all the skill of a child knocking over sand castles and then pulling its pants down to take a piss on the wretched ruins.
For some reason, Marvel Comics has always treated Spider-Man a lot like the Knicks treated Patrick Ewing. In Spider-Man, Marvel has their most iconic and globally recognized property, yet they seem to do everything humaely possible to undermine the character’s appeal and success. At times, it almost appears that Marvel is content to surround the Spider-Man franchise with mediocrity and controversy. From trying to convince readers that Peter Parker was actually a clone and replacing him as Spider-Man with Ben Reilly, to turning him into a giant spider every 8 years or so, Marvel can’t help but fuck up the Spider-Man mythos every once and a while. There was that time Peter’s long-thought-dead parents returned, when in actuality they were robots programmed to kill him, there was also The Gathering of Five storyline where some kind of cultish gathering happens, but doesn’t really, and then there was Spider-Man: Chapter One, which is so bad that even DC pretends that it doesn’t exist. The one thing that all of these stories have in common is that they were released during the 1990s, or as comic book fans like to call it: “The Dark Years”.
Ultimate Marvel Team-Up #2-3 succeeds on a superficial level with artists Phil Hester and Ande Parks showing the Hulk’s destructive, powerhouse nature compared to the spindly Spider-Man, who can only bait him or run away. (They do get points off for making Spidey’s webs looking like used bubble gum.) Writer Brian Michael Bendis also deserves credit for depicting Spider-Man simultaneous heroism and freaking out and ending the story with Peter Parker passed on the couch in front of the TV, like most people do after a hard day’s work. However, though still a disaster film worthy smashing machine courtesy of Hester, the Hulk is a one dimensional wrecking crew and could’ve easily been subbed in for the Abomination.
Ultimate Marvel Team-Up #1 introduces a more traditional version of Wolverine to the Ultimate Marvel Universe. He is gruff and violent, but actually wants to co-exist with humans and leave his dark past behind. In a later filler arc of Ultimate Spider-Man, Bendis would explore the comic potential of a Wolverine/Spider-Man team up, but he looks at the more serious implications of being a mutant in the Ultimate Universe while also making Spidey kind of geek out around him. Even if Sabretooth is a fur coat wearing punching bag and some of jokes don’t land, it is a rare privilege to see comics legend Matt Wagner put Spider-Man through his acrobatic paces and use the full comics page (or two) to its storytelling potential.
Civil War was a massive Marvel crossover event running from 2006 to 2007 and tied into virtually every Marvel comic including cosmic ones, like Nova, and quirky teen ones, like Runaways. The comic begins with the New Warriors (a team of perpetually C-Listers) fighting a group of supervillains to garner better ratings for their reality TV show, which leads to the villain Nitro blowing up a school in Stamford, Connecticut leading to many civilian casualties. This leads to Tony Stark, Reed Richards, the Avengers, and SHIELD supporting the Superhuman Registration Act, which bans secret identities, implements mandatory training for young heroes, and makes superheroes agents of SHIELD. This is opposed by Captain America, who doesn’t want to hunt down his fellow heroes, and the conflict begins as all the heroes of the Marvel Universe must either choose the Pro-Reg or Anti-Reg side.
For nearly every massively popular superhero, chances are there’s an equally popular love interest behind that hero. Iron Man loves Pepper Potts, Superman loves Lois Lane, and Spider-Man loves…okay, he’s loved a couple people over the years. Gwen Stacy, Peter’s first love, cared for Peter but hated Spider-Man, a dynamic that would have inevitably doomed the relationship, even if the Green Goblin hadn’t sent her to an early grave. Black Cat represent the dangerous, thrill-seeking side of Spider-Man’s life. She was the opposite of Gwen: Black Cat loved the Spider but had no interest in his Peter Parker persona, a fact that Peter himself couldn’t reconcile. Mary Jane Watson, however, was what many readers consider to be Peter’s ultimate love interest, who loved both sides of Peter’s identity, and ultimately married him.