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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