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Miles Morales: Ultimate Spider-Man #2

Posted by Donovan McComish 10 September 2014

Hello everybody and welcome to my review of Miles Morales: Ultimate Spider-Man #2. It's safe to say that that Miles has a lot on his plate right now. Peter Parker is seemingly alive and well and standing in his apartment. The Green Goblin is on the loose, no doubt with plans to make everybody burn, and the so-called "Spider-Twins" are continuing their crime spree. And if that weren't enough, Miles is still wrestling with whether or not to tell his girlfriend Katie Bishop the truth regarding his secret identity. Seems like Miles has inherited the ol' "Parker Luck"...

Synopsis:

At the now abandoned Osborn Industries complex, the Green Goblin lands in his former office before reverting to his human form of Norman Osborn. Observing the room, Norman removes a painting of a horse to reveal a retinal scan device which he activates, allowing him to access a secret room containing Oz serum, money, computers and even the original harness of the now-deceased Otto Octavius (there's also a bed). Now equipped with some assets, Norman sinks into a contemplative pose over what to do next.

Meanwhile, Miles Morales is standing in his bedroom, totally gobsmacked to see a very much alive-looking Peter Parker standing in his bedroom, asking to have his webshooters back. Miles reaches forward and grabs Peter's face as a way of making sure he isn't going mad, during which Peter comments that Miles needs to wash his gloves. Miles continues to look lost for words, so Peter waits until the realisation properly sinks in, which it does a few minutes later as Miles reacts the same way we all did when reading that last page ("What the #$@#$@#$?!"). Miles asks how Peter can be alive, but Peter replies that he doesn't want to get into that right now. Miles then asks if Aunt May knows that her nephew is still alive. Peter answers no and adds "no offence, but that's none of your business", saying that no one asked him to be Spider-Man. Miles counters that by pointing out that everyone whose ever known Peter has asked him to be Spider-Man, adding that they just had a memorial for Peter, who reveals he was there "from a distance".

Miles is then struck by the notion that this could be a Peter Parker from another Earth, so he asks him if he is, referencing his team-up with the Amazing Spider-Man in Spider-Men. Peter doesn't seem to understand what he's talking about though and once again asks for his webs back so he can leave Miles alone. Miles takes issue however with the fact that Peter hasn't told Aunt May, which he apparently doesn't want to do since he doesn't want to put her through the stress. Miles insists that Peter tell her, prompting Peter to again asks for his webs. Miles responds that May gave the web-shooters to him because she thought Peter died. Peter says that he did die, and when Miles asks what that means, he starts to get angry, exclaiming that he doesn't know Miles, that he didn't ask him to pick up the mantle, and that he's sorry if this isn't up to Miles' standards of "how you think I should do these impossible things no one in the world outside of Captain America has ever had to deal with".

Miles insists that Peter tell Aunt May, or he will. Peter squares up to Miles, saying that he was trying to avoid "getting weird" with him. Miles tries to diffuse the situation, asking that Peter sit down and just talk to him, but Peter's past listening. He grabs Miles' wrist, saying this isn't about him, only to receive a painful surprise when Miles' Venom Blast activates, throwing him back. Mile apologises, explaining that it's a reflex. Peter is confused since he doesn't possess a Venom Blast, which leads to the two concluding that they must have been bitten by different kinds of spiders, right before Peter retaliates, knocking Miles back. Before Miles can respond, Peter knocks him out with a punch to the face, saying beforehand that he asked him nicely a hundred times.A short while later, Miles regains conciousness to find Peter gone, as well as his web-shooters. Miles wonders how Peter could still be alive, before coming to the conclusion that it must be a clone, which he repeatedly says as he pulls his mask on and heads off to find his predecessor.

Elsewhere, a worker informs Stark Command that they have a problem at Dock 9. It's those pesky Spider-Twins, who are kicking all the security guards asses whilst arguing back and forth about how many guards they thought there would be. Using their acrobatic skills and a stolen taser, they soon leave all the guards unconscious. The worker says he'll get out of their way since he doesn't want to get a face full of foot, but the Twins have other ideas. They want the worker to help them since he knows what they're looking for. They also know he called the cops, so they give him a minute to give them the package that Tony Stark labelled "Latveria".
The next day, Miles is telling Ganke about his encounter with Peter Parker, still maintaining that it's a clone rather than the real thing. Ganke wonders where he got that theory from, so Miles tells him the truth about Black Widow, aka Jessica Drew, that she's a female clone of Peter, which leads Ganke to remark that "Peter Parker had a great tush". He asks if May or Gwen Stacy know. Miles replies no since he went to her house and she wasn't home, but even if she was, he's unsure if he could really tell her just in case she's wrong. Ganke throws out the suggestion that it could be the real Peter Parker, pointing out that a giant purple guy tried to eat the planet last week and that maybe everything they know about the world and life and death isn't as black and white as they thought. He suggests that Miles tells Gwen or Jessica Drew, but the latter's phone is off and Gwen would definitely tell May. Their discussion is suddenly interrupted by Katie Bishop, who greets Miles with a kiss and asks what's up. To Ganke's surprise, Miles chooses now to begin to tell Katie the truth, that he is Spider-Man...

Thought:

As I noted in my introduction above, there is a lot going on in this opening storyline, but Bendis mostly keeps it from being overwhelming, whilst thickening the intrigue of the Spider-Twins and that surprise twist last issue. Peter's interaction with Miles is interesting because for once, we're seeing him from an outside perspective. There's no narration from Bendis to put us inside his head, but it works because it makes his presence dubious, meaning we get a sense of what Miles is feeling right now. I love his reaction to seeing  Peter alive. It was almost like Bendis filmed a Spider-Man fan reading the end of the previous issue, right down to the swearing and Miles continued declaration that it must be a clone, which I'm still hoping is not the case. The conversation between Ganke and Miles about Peter seems to address fan questions and concerns.There are plenty of people, myself included, generally see the Ultimate Universe as a place where people stay dead, but Ganke's remark about Galactus legitimately throws that into doubt. Bryan Lim suggested in a comment on my last review that Peter could still be alive thanks to the disruptive events Age of Ultron had on the entire multiverse, and given that line from Ganke, and the impending Spider-Verse crossover event, that theory seems stronger and stronger. It's possible that this Peter could be from an alternate version of the Ultimate Universe where he never died. It's a bit out there, sure, but the characters have been bringing up both Cataclysm & Spider-Men repeatedly here, so it's certainly possible.

On the surface, Peter's hostile behaviour towards Miles seems out of character, but I actually think his behaviour makes sense given his situation. If we're to believe that this is indeed the real Peter Parker, then he's likely unsure of what to do and therefore frustrated. It's an established trait about Peter that, when things from both his personal life and his life as Spider-Man are piling on top of him, he can have a tendency to lash out verbally and hurt his friends unintentionally. Not only does Peter mention a reluctance to tell Aunt May that he's "back", which conflicts with his desire to return to being Spider-Man, but he's also shown to stutter and struggle with what words to say. Plus, Miles being in the picture would complicate things even more for Peter, since he doesn't technically have to be Spider-Man anymore with him around, which would no doubt play havok with his conscience, as it did for 616 Peter when he briefly retired from being Spider-Man and Mattie Franklin assumed the role.

The segment with the Spider-Twins, while not bad within itself, did feel a bit disjointed from the rest since they don't seem to be concerned with Spider-Man. Come to think of it, if Miles is out webslinging in order to find "Peter", then wouldn't he perhaps be alerted to the Spider-Twins through his Spider-Sense? Anyway, the reveal that they're after a Stark package marked for Latveria is a potential clue to their identity, or at least, their employer. The crate no doubt contains some advanced new piece of tech, which could mean that these guys are working for Roxxon, though that's unlikely as S.H.I.E.L.D shut them down. A.I.M is another possibility, though I don't know very much about this world's version of A.I.M, let alone if they're even still around. I'll throw Hydra in as a last suggestion since this arc is already kind of tying in with Captain America: The Winter Soldier by having S.H.I.E.L.D shut down.

It goes without saying that the art by David Marquez is fantastic as usual. In fact there are so many awesome pages that I had a tough time choosing which to show in this review. The Peter Parker here unquestionably looks like the Ultimate version, though Marquez tweaks the character design to show that this guy is older, though maybe not that much wiser. Marquez manages to capture many different moods during the conversation between Peter & Miles, making the scene both comical and tense at the same time, yet one never overpowers the other until the end. Once again, another well-written, well-drawn issue in an increasingly intriguing plot...

Score: 4.0/5.0

All-New X-Men #31

Posted by Donovan McComish 07 September 2014

Hello everybody and welcome to my review of All-New X-Men #31. What’s that you say? This is a review site for Spider-Man related comic books. Not X-Men? Well as it turns out, starting from this issue, the past versions of Jean Grey, Beast, Iceman & Angel will be hurled into the Ultimate Universe and teaming up with it's resident Spider-Man, Miles Morales! Seeing as I’m the current reviewer for Miles’ new series, I thought I’d review the issues that make up this new storyline. The real question is, how exactly do the X-Men wind up in the Ultimate Universe?

Synopsis:

In the Ultimate Universe (also known as Earth-1610), the young Doctor Amadeus Cho is lamenting that the powers-that-be have chosen to close the inter-dimensional gateway used by Mysterio (which led to the events of Spider-Men) to enter that universe. Tony Stark, who is observing the portal along with Cho, explains that the-powers-that-be likely can't afford to keep experiments like the portal with the world being the mess that it is right now. Cho continues to protest, saying that the portal is important because it "proves so much about the fabric of all things". Stark agrees with him and replies that he's going to buy it, keeping Cho on since he's the only leading expert in this field. As the young doctor thanks him, the portal suddenly flares up, overloading all the surrounding tech before imploding on itself disappearing. While Cho is devastated at the loss of the portal and his research, Tony wonders aloud if someone on the other side managed to find a way of closing it, or if something really bad has just happened.

Across dimensions, on Earth-616 over the Canadian wilderness, Warren Worthington III, aka Angel,  are returning to the current base of operations for the time-displaced X-Men with his new friend Laura Kinney, aka X-23 and a female clone of Wolverine, after spending the night away to recover from the recent attack by the Future Brotherhood of Mutants (most of whom were being controlled by the evil child of Professor X). Laura asks Warren if he would do her the courtesy of behaving like a gentleman when they get back, to which Warren jokes that he can't promise that.

As it happens, they arrive back at "The New Xavier School" (*sigh* Cyclops, you are messed up) as the adult members of the Uncanny X-Men, Cyclops, Emma Frost, Kitty Pryde, Dazzler & Magik (I really don't like the last one, she's like a female Namor!) are teleporting away to "The Jean Grey School For Higher Learning". The two asks where all the teachers went. Jean Grey answers they left to hear the last will and testament of Charles Xavier. Beast comments how odd it is that they all let themselves forget that he has passed away so easily (himself included), especially considering that his death at Adult-Cyclops' hands was what caused Adult-Beast to bring them from the past in the first place (and yet you guys are hanging out in with Xavier's murderer?).

As Beast suggests that they all return to their studies and Iceman tries in vain to get "the gory details" on Angel's time with X-23, Jean seeks a conversation with Laura herself, remarking that she looks calm and happy for at least the first time since they met. Laura replies that she knows there are girls in the world who like to do "this" and she's just not one of them, but Jean persists, saying that Warren is a great guy, using his refusal to tell Iceman anything simply because Laura told him to act like a gentleman as proof. For Laura, a good guy is a completely new experience. Jean explains to her that she's trying, knowing what she does now, to enjoy the good stuff, and that Laura should enjoy this for what it is. Laura replies that it's really hard, to which Jean quips "Yeah. Well...welcome to the X-Men. You're not going to survive the experience, so... might as well try to make it worthwhile."

Meanwhile, inside the former Weapon X complex, Beast is tinkering with Cerebro, the mutant finding technology. Angel enters the room, and after a brief back and forth about whether Hank should be messing around with the tech, he marvels over the fact that they can see all the people they're fighting for. Angel remarks that sometimes, he thinks they get lost in all the crazy stuff and forget just what it is they're fighting for. Beast replies "Everyone does sometimes. But we get to turn this on and remind ourselves". Suddenly, the globe hologram Hank is observing swirls with energy. Hank insists that he didn't do this as the a mysterious symbol flashes on the globe, before subsiding. Angel asks why one of the icons is now glowing red. Beast answers that it means a mutant is in need of help. Having heard their thoughts, Jean appears and agrees with Hank that they need to attend to this. A short while later, Cyclops students notice the X-Jet taking off. Celeste, one of the Three-in-One (three mutant siblings who share a telepathic hive mind), tells the others that Jean, Beast, Iceman, Angel & X-23 are "going off on a mission that no one told them to go on". Onboard the jet, Bobby asks Hank what they're doing and where they're going. Beast tells him what he knows, that a new mutant is either being born or discovering a second mutation.

The new mutant in question is Carmen, who is in Austin, Texas having her school photograph taken with the rest of her class. She starts to feel weird and soon after, her mutant powers manifest themselves and the same energy signature that appeared on Cerebro flashes in front of her. The teachers and other students retreat while Carmen uncontrollably starts conjuring up portals to other worlds, including the House of M timeline and Asgard. Naturally freaked out by all of this, Carmen collapses to the ground, at which point the portals disappear. She is then greeted by the X-Men, who try to explain to her that she's a mutant, which she denies. Jean tries to calm her with telepathy, but that just unnerves Carmen even more. To make matters worse, the cops show up en masse. Jean attempts to convince Carmen to come with them, but this is all too much for her. She yells out "NO", her eyes turn blue, the symbol flashes again and everything goes dark.

After a moment's more of darkness, Iceman pipes up, asking if anyone else has noticed the smell. He soon realises however that he's been transported alone to a sewer and as if that weren't enough. He's surrounded by the Mole Man and his minions, the Moloids, though they look noticeably different in appearance?
Elsewhere, Jean Grey appears in the middle of a New York street, causing haywire amongst the surrounding traffic. Using her telekinetic powers to avoid being hit, she flies off to a nearby rooftop to get a better vantage point so as to find the X-Men. As she lands, she is struck on the shoulder by a swift figure, who lands on above her. It's Spider-Man, but instead of Peter Parker, it's Miles Morales! He asks Jean if they've met as she looks familiar, to which Jean replies "I was just about to ask the same thing"...

Thoughts:

After concluding nearly a decade-long run on the Avengers series, Brian Michael Bendis made the switch over to the Children of the Atom, the X-Men, at the end of 2012. This was a fitting transition as one of the biggest status quo shifts in modern X-Men lore, the “No More Mutants” spell by the Scarlet Witch that left the majority of the mutant race depowered (before the events of Avengers VS. X-Men reversed it), was introduced by Bendis in his House of M event. Since then Bendis has made a few more changes to the status quo of Marvel's band of mutants, but none as big as the launch of this series.

While the concept of the original five X-Men being brought from the past to the present may seem rather gimmicky, Bendis has executed it brilliantly, which has resulted in one of the most unique modern comic book experiences of the past few years. Since arriving in the present, the original X-Men have met their modern selves (barring Jean Grey of course), battled a Brotherhood of Mutants from the future and gone on a spacefaring quest with the Guardians of the Galaxy & the Starjammers, but what's been perhaps most interesting about this series is witnessing these younger versions of the X-Men struggling to come to terms with their future. Whether it's Cyclops having to deal with the knowledge that he killed his mentor, Professor X, Jean Grey trying to cope with her own death or Beast getting a look at just how furry things will get for him, Bendis has done a great job in exploring each of these aspects, as well as the present-day X-Men's reactions to this event. So far the only thing I find problematic about the series is the team's switch to the Uncanny X-Men. I just can't buy Kitty Pryde or the past-X-Men forgiving present-day Cyclops for his murder of Professor X so soon.

With this new storyline kicking off, Bendis uses this first part much like the previous issue, as a transition between the previous storyline, which involved the return of the future Brotherhood, and this one. There's a couple of moments where the X-Men slow down and ponder that, with all the crazyness they get caught up in, they sometimes forget  what they are fighting for. Bendis wisely underplays their reaction to Professor X's will being read, as from their perspective, he has still has yet to die, even if they've been living in the future for a while,which makes their feelings on the matter more complicated. The characterisations of the young X-Men are all very good. Angel is now getting some focus after being in the background for much of the series, barring his joining the Uncanny X-Men ahead of his teammates. His budding relationship with X-23 is unexpected given their differences, but I can buy it anyway thanks to Bendis' dialogue, especially after Jean Grey's convo with X-23. As for Jean herself, she's definitely benefited the most from this series, but since her modern self is still dead, that's not surprising.

Unfortunately  Cyclops being off in space in his very title does leave a bit of a void on the team, but it's mostly filled by X-23. I like what's done with her in this issue as she's now starting to move on from all the pain she went through, both physically and emotionally, in Avengers Arena. She's very much the Wolverine of the team (considering she's actually his clone, that's quite fitting), tough on the outside, but with a lot more going on beneath the surface. Iceman and Beast are mostly just the comic relief here, though hopefully the former's predicament near the end will allow for some character development in the next few issues.

As for the Ultimate Universe, we don't see very much of in this first issue, but what we do see is pretty good, though Tony Stark's line regarding Cataclysm might as well have been a giant spoon with which to feed fans unaware of that universe's recent history. Since Age of Ultron we've been getting more and more multi-dimensional crossovers, and with Spider-Verse impending and Bendis teasing a sequel to Spider-Men, the fate of the portal gives the story some extra significance. One almost wonders if by the end of this story, Miles will briefly travel into the 616 universe with the X-Men as a set-up for Spider-Verse?

Newcomer Mahmud Asrar joins the book as it's main artist from this issue onwards, and he gets off to an okay start here. His style is a good fit for this series since there is a slight consistency with previous artist Stuart Immonen, though some of it is loosely detailed and unpolished, mostly in the first half. But there's also plenty of good looking pages too, particularly the final shot of Miles & Jean Grey meeting. The colours by Marte Gracia & Jason Keith are great in establishing the different tones of the Ultimate & 616 dimensions. While the art is off to a shaky start, story-wise this is looking to be another really good story from this series...

Score: 3.5/5.0

Amazing Spider-Man v3 # 1.4

Posted by bulletproofsponge 31 August 2014

Amazing Spider-Man v3 # 1.4
Learning to Crawls : Part 4

This issue begins with Spider-Man finally deciding that the purpose of his Spider Powers are for photography. Hi spider sense and wall crawling allows him to hide in places where no one will notice him.
He takes photos of the Thing, Thor, and Iron Man and sells them all to Jameson.

Peter decides to quit being the crime fighting Spider-Man and begin to resume his life as Peter Parker. His grades begin to rise and Peter even manages to find friends to spend time with. Peter decides that the Fantastic Four and other heroes can take care of the world's problems.

In the meantime, Clayton Cole, aka Clash is trying to build a reputation for himself. He begins creating problems for the public, hoping to get any sort of publicity. Much to his disappointment however, Jameson labels him as a Spider-Man imposter, creating a nuisance as Spider-Man did. Clayton is especially disturbed that the name "Clash" was not recognized by anyone, and that he has instead become known as a Spider-Man mimic.

Seeing what Clash has been doing in the local press, Peter decides it is his responsibility to put an end to Clash. He steals some equipment from the school and starts working on  a device to counter Clash's powers. Peter has full intention to replace everything he took from the school as soon as he has the money to buy new ones.

He goes to Jameson to try to sell more photos, hoping that the money will be enough to cover the cost of the equipment. However, the Daily Bugle is attacked by Clash, who came to tell Jameson his name, and make sure Jameson remembers it. Jameson thinks Clash to be a fool and a copycat of Spider-Man, refusing to print anything about Clash.


At that point, Peter takes the opportunity to change into Spider-Man, test out his new counter frequency invention and fights Clash in the Bugle.  However, Peter's device does not work as Clash already had counter measures for such situation.


At the end of the fight, Jameson is convinced that Clash is the real menace and that Spider-Man is the joke. He then gets everyone to begin a write up on Clash.



Back at school, the principal has discovered that Peter stole equipment, thanks to Clayton, who witnessed Peter taking the equipment. To make matters worst, Jameson fires Peter for not getting a single photo of the fight between Clash and Spider-Man that took place right at the bugle while they were all present.

The issue ends with Peter going to Uncle Ben's grave and venting out his problems.

Thoughts

As we all know, Learning to Crawl is a back story about Spider-Man that was not previously told. Here, we see why Jameson and Aunt May hate Spider-Man. We all see for the first time that Jameson decides Spider-Man is not actually a menace, but a joke instead.

This issue also marks the first time that Peter has been 'out-scienced' by Clayton. This issue marks the first of much 'Parker Luck' that is to follow, with him being, fired, losing the fight against Clash, and being caught for stealing at school.

Once again it is evident that Spider-Man only brings problems to Peter's life. When Peter hung up the costume, his life was going great. He had friends, and his grades we going up again. Clayton however remained a loner and was getting jealous of Peter as depicted several times in the story. Clayton jumped on the opportunity to get Peter in trouble, when he noticed Peter doing research on sound technology.

At the start of the issue, Peter ventures on a care free life, not taking any responsibility with his powers, much like how he did before Uncle Ben died. By the end of this issue however, he is beginning to realize that his responsibilities cannot be evaded forever as a small time villain, inspired by Spider-Man is running lose on the streets.

It appears that Peter needed to be taught a second lesson on responsibility before he began his career as the Spider-Man we know.



Guardians of the Galaxy # 15

Posted by Donovan McComish 28 August 2014

Hello everybody and welcome to my review of Guardians of the Galaxy #15. Last time we saw the Guardians, they had been forcibly disbanded by Peter Quill's father J'son, with all but the team's two newest recruits, Captain Marvel and Agent Venom, captured and distributed amongst the their many enemies. What exactly do their captors have planned for the Guardians? How about we take a look?

Synopsis:

Rocket Raccoon awakens to find himself on an operating table at the mercy of several Kree scientists, who remark that "the specimen" did not respond correctly to the measured anaesthetic. They decide to put him under again, but are ordered not to by the Supreme Intelligence (observing the operation via monitor), who says that they should explore every unique facet of this "rare species". Rocket asks where the rest of his team are, to which the Supreme Intelligence answers that the Guardians of the Galaxy have been disbanded, that Rocket is now the property of the Kree Empire, and that it and it's science conclave are looking forward to "the answers your unique biology will supply us". At first, Rocket pleads with the S.I not to kill him, but when it tells him that they won't, and the scientists begin asking him questions about his origin, he takes it back, yelling with profanity that if they don't kill him, he'll kill all of them. Unfortunately, this doesn't seem to faze the scientists.

Gamora is now apparently the property of the Brotherhood of the Badoon, and is being forced to fight several  on their homeworld of Moord, while one of the Brotherhood's leaders asks repeatedly where her father, the death-obsessed Mad Titan known as Thanos, is. Gamora in fact has no idea where Thanos is (He is currently lying frozen, along with two of his henchmen, in the Necropolis, dead city of Wakanda, the Black Panther's nation, and base of operations for the Illuminati, as shown in Jonathan Hickman's Infinity & New Avengers), but obviously the Brotherhood wouldn't believe her even if she wanted to tell them, so she fights back and kicks a whole lot of Badoon bottom, but gradually begins to be worn down. 

Drax meanwhile is in custody onboard the Shi'ar space station Ragnu 7. Manta of the Shi'ar Imperial Guard (of which current Avenger Smasher is also a member) speaks to Drax on behalf of Gladiator, the leader and chosen Praetor of the guard, telling him that he is now a prisoner of the Shi'ar Empire and that he will answer for his crimes against the galaxy. Drax however challenges Gladiator, who speaks directly this time, saying "that is not an appropriate response to your situation", to which Drax responds with "you are a coward". Manta informs Drax that he will be held until a proper trial is scheduled. Drax calls the whole thing "an ill-thought-out retaliation" for the Guardians helping to rescue a time displaced Jean Grey from the Imperial Guard, who kidnapped her to place her on trial for her crimes as the Dark Pheonix (which she technically hadn't committed yet as that was still in her personal future), as shown in the Guardians/All-New X-Men crossover, 'The Trial of Jean Grey. This riles Gladiator, who insists that the Guardians are no more and that Drax will be punished, to which Drax simply says "I will end you" (man, you really want to get a rise out of him, don't you?). The purple ball he is encased in is then pushed into a separate room, where he sadly says "Yvette...it's happening again".

Back on Knowhere, Venom is trying to communicate with some of the local aliens, focusing on a couple who happen to be attractive females. Unfortunately, those women just laugh at him. An annoyed Flash starts to head on, when suddenly he is greeted by his Avengers team, Hawkeye, Black Widow, Beast, his supposed girlfriend Valkyrie (seriously, what's the deal right now with those two?) and Captain Britain (if you ask me, this guy deserves more attention). Beast answers Flash's question of how they found him, saying he generated a lot of subspace chatter. Captain Britain tells him that they came for him because he's needed back on Earth.

Apparently, the mutant equivalent of Civil War has just happened. The Avengers have been wiped out and the planet itself was being ripped in half. Philidelphia (where we last saw Flash in his own series) was hit the hardest. Flash however questions why Beast would accompany the team when his own people would need him more. "Henry" tries to brush it off by saying that Flash would do the same for him, but the team recognise they've been rumbled -- with "Beast" & "Black Widow" commenting about the story being too big and elaborate -- and open fire on Venom with alien weapons, demanding he get on the ship. Flash attempts to get away, but "Captain Britain eventually lands a shot, hitting Venom square in the back. As Flash passes out, he asks "why?" As if to answer, the "Avengers" reveal their true forms...Skrulls!

Elsewhere, on an Acanti, a race of whale-like beings used by the Brood for transport across the galaxy (because the Brood are frakakta trochoids), the Queen of the Brood instructs her servants to "prepare the creature", as they have arrived at their destination. The creature is of course an unconscious Groot, who the Brood drag to the tip of the Acanti's tongue. Groot quickly wakes up though and starts fighting off the extraterrestrial parasites. The Brood Queen yells "NOW!" at which point the other Brood swarm Groot, pushing him off the Acanti and towards the planet's rocky surface, with several Brood falling after him. Landing on a large rock, Groot is bisected, though as he's a living tree he can cope with losing half his body. The Brood are not so lucky, bursting apart on impact with the ground. Lifting himself up, Groot yells for help, but it's clear that the planet is uninhabited, which is very likely why the Brood have stranded him there.
Finally, on Planet Spartax, Star-Lord is being led through his father's palace by the Spartax Royal Guard and J'son's aide, who announces to the observing civilians that Star-Lord is under "palace arrest" and he'll be held accountable for his crimes against the Empire, as well as those of his "fellow terrorist partners". Peter suddenly asks the guards to wait, asking the aide to tell his father that he's changed his mind, that if J'son lets the rest of the Guardians go, Peter will be whatever his father wants him to be, and in return, the Guardians will disappear and give Spartax no more trouble. The aide however, replies with a smirk that they are past the point where J'son can make that deal. He says he will convey Peter's message to his dad (yeah right), but Peter decides the hell with it and headbutts his element gun, which one of the guards happens to be carrying. The weapon fires, killing another guard and giving Peter the opening he needs to escape. Running helter-skelter towards a nearby balcony, Peter leaps off it in nothing but a t-shirt and boxers...

Thoughts:

Unfortunately I can sum this up as being the filler issue. Not a whole lot happens here apart from seeing where the Guardians have all been sent individually and the "punishments" they all face. This issue is also false advertising as we don't actually see Captain Marvel in this issue at all. Thankfully, this is Brian Michael Bendis writing, someone known for and very adept at decompressed storytelling, meaning this issue is kept afloat with plenty of snappy dialogue and character moments for the Guardians.

Rocket is perhaps the most interesting character to witness in captivity, as we see a rare moment of vulnerability from him since his current predicament with the Kree likely draws up unpleasant memories of his origin. If Gamora has a defining character trait in this issue, it's that she's an kick-ass fighting machine! Watching her fight off the Badoon warrior/slave things is pretty awesome, though Bendis keeps the situation tense by reminding us that Gamora isn't invulnerable. Drax's confrontation with the Shi'ar is surprisingly comedic thanks to Drax's blunt nature and constant jibes to Gladiator. You can tell from the way he's getting to him that these two will come to blows at some point later on. This also shows that Drax, for all of his bluntness, is much smarter than he looks, which shows how far the character has come from his days as the cosmic equivalent of the Hulk in a purple outfit.

Venom's scene also provides some comic relief before the Skrulls show up. Despite it being obvious from an outside perspective, I admit I was briefly fooled as the Skrull's haven't appeared beforehand in previous issues, not even in the meetings J'son has been holding with other galactic leaders in the Negative Zone, a clever move on Bendis' part. I would have liked to have seen some interaction between Flash & Valkyrie, even if the latter was a fake, as there's been no interaction between them since Flash first arrived in Philadelphia back in Venom #30. Groot's "punishment" by the Brood made sense as he's apparently one of the few life-forms they cannot absorb, so marooning him on an unpopulated planet is the best bet from their standpoint. As for Star-Lord, while his character moment came in the last issue, we get to see how the servants, or at least the aide of his father views him. The thing is, if Peter did take up his father's offer to become his right hand man, then the aide would really be out of a job, which means Peter "changing his mind" wouldn't have been passed on to his father anyway.

Like the previous issue we have multiple artists present. Nick Bradshaw once again does a great job capturing the madcap visuals of the Marvel Universe. He's joined by Cameron Stewart for this issue, who illustrates the last few pages with Groot & Star-Lord. While there is a difference in their respective styles, the change from one to the other isn't jarring since they are overall similar enough. Stewart's work also looks great, the bit where Peter Quill leaps out of the palace kind of reminded me of a scene from The Fifth Element where Leeloo leaps into the future New York traffic. Like I said, the plot doesn't progress much here beyond showing us the current predicaments of the Guardians, but the dialogue, art and atmosphere makes up for it, which means there's still a lot here to enjoy...

Score: 3.5/5.0  

Miles Morales: Ultimate Spider-Man #1

Posted by Donovan McComish 17 August 2014

Hello everybody and welcome to my review of Miles Morales: Ultimate Spider-Man #1. So far, Miles has encountered villains such as the Scorpion, the Prowler, Venom, Taskmaster & the Devourer of Worlds himself, Galactus! But now, he's about to meet two of the biggest players in Spider-Man's history 

Synopsis:

In the aftermath of Galactus' invasion of Earth, S.H.I.E.L.D has been disbanded due to their failure to protect the planet from the World Eater, which means everything funded by the organisation has also been shut down. We begin this story at a secret S.H.I.E.L.D containment facility located in Washington D.C, where a government representative is informing the S.H.I.E.L.D agent in charge there of this. Asked what will be don with their "special guest", the rep replies that 'Prisoner 26-654-2345354' (isn't there a less verbally-busy way of referring to this guy?) will be moved to a federal prison. The agent's worry soon turns to apathy as he signs the responsibility over to the representative. He then unlocks the door to the room where the prisoner is located, telling the rep that he is now the proud owner of a Norman Osborn.

Yep, it turns out that ol' Stormin' Norman didn't die in that fateful battle with Peter Parker, but instead became a prisoner of S.H.I.E.L.D, with Nick Fury keeping his survival secret to all but a few. Naturally the rep is surprised to see Osborn alive, pointing out that he's responsible for the death of the original Spider-Man, to which the agent responds that, as he is no longer a duly deputised agent of S.H.I.E.L.D, he can finally express his feelings about that. He then punches Osborn right in the face, knocking out a tooth (I like this guy). Osborn's responds by angrily muttering "yrl gna brn". The agent translates that as "your all going to burn" before leaving, commenting that the representative should keep an eye on Osborn's meds, stressing that he'll really want to make sure he does that.

Over in Brooklyn, New York later that day, two loaders are wheeling a trolley of containers into the back of a truck whilst discussing the recent death of Captain America. One of the men believes that Cap is in fact alive and is just taking a break, saying that's what "the super hero guys" do. His co-worker points out that a funeral was held, to which the other retorts that there was probably a funeral for Cap back in World War II. The guy maintains that Cap will return, saying that super heroes come back when we need them the most, adding that there is a cyclical pattern to it (your not that far off to be honest mate). Both men are distracted from their debate however, when they notice a pair of shadowy figures -- with eyepieces resembling those of Spider-Man -- perched on the wall opposite them. One tells them to walk away, but the men ignore him, reaching instead for their guns. The two figures then attack the men, revealing themselves to be clad in armoured suits. They overpower the loaders and make off with the truck, though they take a moment to wave at the security camera.

The next day, at Brooklyn Visions Academy, Miles Morales meets up with his girlfirend Katie Bishop at school break for a snog. She asks where he was last night as she had texted him. Miles, having been out fighting crime alongside his teammates on the All-New Ultimates, lies that he must have dozed off doing his homework. Katie however is slightly saddened by this, saying she got all excited as she thought Miles' dad had come back, which Miles affirms did not happen. Katie apologises for bringing the matter up, but Miles assures her that she didn't, saying that it's all he thinks about. He even stops by his family apartment every day, which he accesses using his wall-crawling ability, as well as setting up Google alerts in his fathers name, yet every day, he finds nothing. Katie asks why the police aren't doing anything. Miles answers that they believe that Jefferson is just another casualty of "The Coming of Galactus". He tells Katie that his dad freaked out and ran away (leaving out the crucial detail that it was his unmasking as Spider-Man in front of his father that led to Jefferson's departure), to which Katie says that it doesn't make sense why Mile's father would run out on him. Miles asks that she believe him on this, which she agrees to. He tries to explain that there's more to this than it seems, but is cut off by one of the teachers, who tells them they should both be in class. She adds that everyone sympathises with Miles' predicament, but that he shouldn't take advantage, which prompts a well-deserved glare from Miles before he heads off to class.

Meanwhile, on the Long Island Expressway, an armoured van driven by former S.H.I.E.L.D agents is driving Norman Osborn to the federal prison he will be held at. All a restrained Osborn can do during this silence is repeat his mumbling "yrl gna brn". Suddenly, the van explodes in a ball of fire. Osborn soon emerges from the fire in his Green Goblin form, looking more than a little pissed off.
Elsewhere, at Ganke's house, Miles has come to a decision. He is going to tell Katie the truth, that he's Spider-Man, saying that if it were the other way round, he'd want to know. Ganke thinks it's a terrible idea, saying that the less people know, the better. Miles points out that he knows, but Ganke replies that he's "special" as he makes the webbing (he also suggests that Miles sets him up with . Miles says that theirs only one way to find out and starts texting someone he refers to as "the expert", asking to talk to them, to which they respond that they'll be on break in twenty minutes.

The expert turns out to Mary Jane Watson, who, after being startled by Miles appearing upside down to her in costume, greets him with a hug. Miles asks M.J when exactly Peter told her he was Spider-Man. She replies that it was pretty much straight away, as Peter didn't want to lie to her. Miles also asks if there was any downside to it, which causes Mary Jane to remember when the Green Goblin threw her off the Queensboro Bridge. She answers that, while it had it's ups and downs, she's glad Peter told her, doubly so now, as she would have broken up with him ages ago if he hadn't, not wanting him lying to her, but she likes to think that she would have figured it out eventually (As her mainstream counterpart did). M.J then correctly deduces that Miles is asking this because he has a girlfriend. She says that he should make sure his relationship with Katie is the real deal before he tells her. He might as well be asking her to marry him, as that's how Mary felt with retrospect after Peter told her, like they were bonded for life.

The following afternoon, Miles swings over to his apartment in costume for his daily inspection. Along the way, he catches sight of a Daily Bugle banner showcasing a report on the "Spider-Twins" theft, dismissing it as he has enough on his mind right now. Arriving at his apartment, Miles calls out to check if his father is there. As usual, he gets no response. As Miles unmasks, he suddenly hears a rustling noise, which he traces to his room. Opening the door, he finds another boy, slightly older than him, going through his wardrobe. Miles remarks "I think one of us is in the wrong apartment". Before he can put his mask on, the boy turns around and replies that he's sorry about that, but he was just hoping to get some of his stuff back. Much to Miles shock, the boy appears to be a very much alive Peter Parker, who adds that it's more than time for the original Spider-Man to get back in the game...

Thoughts:

Despite Miles having faced Galactus alongside the Ultimates in Cataclysm: The Ultimates Last Stand, the events that begin to unfold in the first issue of this new volume feel arguably more exciting and impactful (though that could just be down to the overall quality of Cataclysm). Rather than taking the slow burn approach as did for the previous two volumes of the book, Bendis straight away sets up a bunch of intriguing and very promising plot elements.

First off, it's good to see that Katie Bishop is becoming involved in the story after sitting on the periphery for the last storyline. Miles struggling with whether or not to tell her he's Spider-Man is a nice contrast to when Peter revealed his secret identity to Mary Jane in Ultimate Spider-Man #13. There, Peter revealed his secret to M.J right away as he has known her for quite some time and knew he could trust her, whereas Miles, while he is quite close with Katie, doesn't know her well enough to completely trust her with his identity yet. It seems Bendis is making a point with this storyline about how much of a quandary it is to tell someone your secret identity, the pros and cons of which he lays out through Miles' interactions with Ganke & Mary Jane, however obnoxious the former may be. M.J in particular gets to be a little more jokey here, which is a nice change since she's been quite sad and subdued in her previous appearances (though for good reason of course). As for Ganke, it's a bit weird to see him not make any mention of his kiss with Gwen Stacy, especially now that he has an interest in Dagger.

We also have multiple villains for this arc, though it's clear which one we're all more interested in. Norman Osborn's return is handled really well by Bendis, as it makes complete sense that Nick Fury & S.H.I.E.L.D would have suppressed all knowledge of his survival. In fact, I'd really like to see a flashback scene showing Fury incarcerating Osborn, as there's bound to be plenty of bad blood between the two given that Fury admitted to M.J that he loved Peter like a son. I'm not saying that the "Spider-Twins" are uninteresting however, far from it. I reckon they'll somehow be linked to the Green Goblin, perhaps even being the ones who helped him escape.

Now for the big reveal, Peter Parker is still alive. While I totally called that (see my review of Cataclysm: Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man #3 for proof), it's still an excellent twist given that most people who die in the Ultimate Universe stay dead. While it does seem pretty likely that this could be a clone, I'm really hoping that isn't the case as it would be very predictable, not to mention we've already got a Spider-Clone running around in the form of Jessica Drew. There is perhaps some evidence to suggest that this is the real Peter we're dealing with, and that's the conversation between the two loaders over Captain America's death. Following the twist that Peter is seemingly alive, it's clear that the back and forth on Cap was foreshadowing for that and it's done really well, but it's also the line about heroes coming back when we need them the most that caught my eye. Given that Norman Osborn, often thought of as Spider-Man's greatest enemy, is now free to wreak havoc on the world, this is arguably the time when the Ultimate Universe needs Peter the most, which would give this arc a nice thematic thread. Also, if Peter is still dead and Osborn alive, then that would greatly diminish the impact of The Death of Spider-Man story-arc, something I'm pretty sure Bendis doesn't want to do.

As with the Cataclysm tie-in, I'm very glad that David Marquez has been retained as artist for this series. The fact that this issue is mostly dialogue orientated goes in his favour as Marquez brings a variety of expressions to the characters, which goes very well in hand with Bendis' script. Again, like the Cataclysm tie-in, I do think that relaunching this as a new series is pretty unnecessary, but all in all, this is a strong start to this new volume. Let's just see if it will still be called "Miles Morales: Ultimate Spider-Man" when this storyline is over...

Score: 4.5/5.0

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