Mere months before the death of Peter Parker in the Ultimate Universe, Marvel introduced a new Spider-Man to the world, in the form of Miles Morales. A young teenager, Miles took up the mantle of the wall-crawler, and has carried on a great legacy. And readers have certainly responded because the character’s solo book has been one of the publisher’s many recent successes. But with the recent Cataclysm event that shook the Ultimate Universe, things have irrevocably changed, and as part of the All-New Marvel NOW! phase, we have a new Miles Morales book as the setting is redefined for all the characters.
Miles Morales: The Ultimate Spider-Man #1 is a great start to this new series. It introduces Miles, his fears and his challenges, his supporting cast and also the antagonists. Not to mention, we meet up with the Ultimate version of Norman Orborn as well, and things look rather bleak for Miles, since it was Norman who killed Peter in the first place. Bendis tells a really interesting story here and the art by David Marquez & Col. is also pretty good.
It has been some time in the Ultimate Universe since Galactus burst through the seams of reality into the setting and laid waste everywhere he went. Earth especially has suffered and my understanding is that some heroes have died and passed on from this world, like Captain America, the Sentinel of Liberty. In this new world, Miles has already been through a lot, and it doesn’t look like things are getting any better for him or any of the other good guys. He has started to team-up with some of the other teenage superheroes like Cloak and Dagger, Bombshell and Spider-Woman as the seting’s new Ultimates team, but he also faces some much more immediate challenges. And one of these challenges is telling his girlfriend Katie Bishop that he is Spider-Man.
From a character point of view, I really liked this issue. Miles is a very approachable character, especially for someone like me who is only passingly familiar with him. Brian Michael Bendis introduces him and presents his challenges, and really sets him up for a very interesting twist at the end of the issue. Miles is very conflicted in his current straits and it is nice to see him focusing on being a regular teenager, and not worrying about the next big supervillain.
On the other hand, it seems that with the end of Cataclysm SHIELD has been disbanded and all its holdings are considered solvent. As a part of that, a government agent arrives at a secret SHIELD facility to take custody of Norman Osborn, and the SHIELD security personnel are only too happy to sign him over, as well as make plain their feelings regarding the villain’s killing of Peter Parker. The way that Bendis writes this subplot here, you can’t help but feel that something really big is about to go down regarding Osborn, and that is certainly borne towards the end of the issue.
But that’s not all! Because we also have what appear to be two kids dressed up in some kind of a Spidey-style outfit going around town causing mayhem like robberies and heists. This subplot can almost pass under the radar, and it certainly does for Miles at first, but as with the above, there’s a sense here that this is all much bigger than it appears to be and the final page of the issue hints at what that could be. It is a very surprising take on things, especially this early in the series. I would have thought that something like this would be left for later, but it seems that Bendis wants to start things on a big bang.
David Marquez handles the pencils here, while Justin Ponsor does the colours with VC’s Cory Petit doing the letters. I liked the artwork here. It is clean and polished, and all the characters are drawn and coloured well. They all stand out from each other, with their own body language, expressions, and else. Some of the best bits of this issue’s art have to do with how Norman Osborn is drawn. You can just feel the creepy rolling off of him in waves with his visual design. And Ponsor’s colours are pretty much pitch-perfect as well.
Overall, this brand-new Spider-Man series is off to a great start, I feel.