Bendis says goodbye to his Ultimate universe.
Brian Michael Bendis may be leaving Marvel Comics for good very soon, but dammit we can still read his work for the first time as it hits comic stores. This week, Spider-Men II is in comic shops and it delivers in a variety of ways. The biggest? Miles Morales gets fleshed out even further in ways that’ll make you want future creators to follow suit and continue. We loved the first issue, but how does the entire collection hold up?
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
The sequel five years in the making! The first time the Amazing Peter Parker and the Ultimate Miles Morales met, things ended with a question – who is the Miles Morales of the Marvel Universe?! Now that the Miles you know and love shares a world with Peter in the mainstream MU, you’re finally going to get that answer! And that’s just the tip of the iceberg…because as the mystery deepens, the wall-crawling wonders will be targeted by Taskmaster! Brian Michael Bendis and Sara Pichelli bring you the next heart-stopping adventure for both Spider-Men!
Can I jump in easily?
Easily enough. You’ll need to know who Miles Morales and Peter Parker are, but the main thrust of the story involves another Miles Morales who is a stranger to all readers. Since this character is at the core of the conflict you’ll fine jumping in.
Reason 1: Dating gets serious.
A fellow classmate enters Miles’s life–in large part thanks to Gank–and Bendis develops their relationship well. Bendis creates a sense of mystery with this character due to her own curiosity as to why Miles runs off in the middle of the night. You get the impression Bendis had long term plans for this character especially after the big cliffhanger to end the book. This relationship is enhanced by the fact that the other Miles Morales lives simply to find a way to get back with the love of his life. Seeing as these two characters are connected it goes without saying that Miles’ superhero career could end due to love.
A legacy that has been a bit of a bich.
Reason 2: He can hold his own in multiple ways with Peter Parker.
God damn, is the dialogue great in this collection. Peter and Miles riff off each other well and it’s hard not to laugh, chuckle, or at the very least smirk at their chemistry. Bendis is at the top of his game when it comes to Peter Parker’s mind as he’s all over the place in funny ways. Surprisingly Miles has no trouble throwing back at him which raises your respect for the character. When things get serious–like when Miles finds out there is another Miles in the world–Bendis does a good job establishing Peter’s understanding given his history with clones.
There are also moments of discovery and doubt for Miles that are believable and strong. Peter Parker acts very much like a big brother for Miles and you get the impression Miles grows from it.
The fighting in this comic is gloriously detailed. Sara Pichelli draws some of the prettiest Spider-Man shots in this book, making him look agile and spry. Miles holds his own in this regard including using his Venom Blast (who Spider-Man doesn’t get understandably given his Symbiote enemy) and being as agile as Peter.
Reason 3: The Ultimate universe is not gone!
The Miles Morales of the main Marvel universe ends up befriending kingpin. These flashback scenes do a good job establishing the trust and brotherhood between these characters. Bendis does a great job writing a younger and (shockingly) positive Kingpin. Problem is, this version of Miles lost the love of his life. In the final pages, however, we get confirmation the Ultimate universe is alive and well. Given how many years it went on for, this is a relief. Bendis writes some of the iconic characters into this finale and it’s fun to see him back at it. Taskmaster of the Ultimate universe is used quite a bit and he too seems to be running amok after this series. Here’s to hoping we see him soon.
It’s almost as if Kingpin and non-Spidey Miles take over a portion of the book.
Reasons to be wary?
One gets the impression a lot of the plotting of this series was shifted or changed at the last minute. Take for instance the new, mysterious Miles. A lot of hype was generated as to who he was and how he connects to Miles. We finally learn what Peter found when he Googled (or in this world, “Starkled”) and it’s totally underwhelming. This series certainly gives us answers, but unless I missed something he is not some clone or alternate version. He’s just a guy with the same name who happens to be friends with Kingpin. I say this because the two look nothing like each other.
Maybe I’m missing something, but it’s odd. Even if we assume they are the same person but at different ages the non-Spidey Miles is just boring. He knew Kingpin and did some criminal things, but aside from that his entire character is developed around loving a woman we hardly know. The third chapter of this comic is devoted to developing the relationship between Kingpin and Miles, but it’s a strange aside that kills the momentum the story had.
There are also strange little details like Hobgoblin riding in a plane early on, and then later we see Taskmaster was in the plane all along. Why would the scene change even though they’re both flashbacks of the same moment? It’s also confusing because we see non-Spidey Miles asking Taskmaster to kill them only to later see he was there when they were tied up. Either I’m completely missing some alternate timeline bologna, or the details were fudged by the creators.
Is there a rationale to the reasons?
This is a good story if you’re a Miles Morales fan. For just 12 bucks you can preorder it on Amazon, which is a decent price given this is more of a side-mission than a excellent sequel. It has its moments, and the dialogue is glorious at times, but the overall story is wonky at best.