Review: Ultimate Comics: All-New Spider-Man #6
Oh Sarah Pichelli, I miss you already.
Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man has a new artist with this issue, and I hope Chris Samnee is just a fill in. He does an OK job, but is nothing compared to the emotional and detailed glory of regular artist Pichelli. At least I hope she’s a regular artist. I don’t know why the switch, I’m just hoping we see her again soon.
Because the not-quite-as-amazing art brings down an otherwise stellar issue.
Comic rating: 4/5: Good!
Though not by much. Writer Brian Michael Bendis gives us a fantastic issue of Miles Morales getting used to his new role as Spider-Man, while adding in some family time, a visit to J. Jonah Jameson and a preview of the next storyline and new villain. Even Uncle Aaron, the Prowler, is back! This issue is a definite transition, bringing us down from the opening story and moving us into the next.
The only complaint I can really make is that it doesn’t transcend the written word into full-on comic book perfection. It doesn’t rise to the level where I would give it a perfect score.
Still, very damn good comic book. Spoilers and synopsis to follow!
A lot happens in this issue, so let’s get right to it. We open in Mexico City, with Uncle Aaron meeting with some criminal types. We haven’t seen him since…heck, the first issue! Or maybe it was the second. Either way, Aaron has been out of the picture for awhile. You may recall that he broke into Oscorp in the first issue and stole something rather fancy, though we never got a good look at it. Well apparently he was stealing it for the new Scorpion!
Though first Prowler has to fight his way through Scorpion’s goons.
Not a problem.
We cut right to Miles and the first actual panels of him in costume as Spider-Man, at least in his costume. I definitely miss Pichelli with this scene. I’ve been waiting five issues to see her draw a fully-costumed Miles in action. I’m just not impressed with Samnee’s style. I definitely love the look of Miles’ costume, but there’s just something I don’t like about Samnee’s work. His Spider-Man is fluid, the action is good. I just think he’s lacking the sort of detail I’ve come to love from Pichelli. It’s a little too cartoony.
Just take a look at that one guy’s face.
Miles had been enjoying a nice leap-marathon through the city, trying out his powers. But then the typical call for help draws the hero’s attention! Miles dives right into the middle of a group of thugs trying to steal a woman’s purse. They get in some good blows, but Miles comes out fighting and kicks some butt. While the art is clear and energetic – not to mention colorful – it’s just not as good as Pichelli. And I promise this is the last time I’ll mention that.
This issue also marks the return of Miles’ internal monologue. Peter Parker’s used to be massive, taking up whole pages as he thought to himself. Miles’ is less so. He provides some nice running commentary to the fight, saving his quips for the monologue. He doesn’t talk as much as Peter did while fighting, at least. That’s probably a good thing. While I like my Spider-Man funny, Miles would be at a disservice if he was just Peter redux.
So Miles’ kicks their butts and saves the woman and her purse. She gives him a big hug in return, which becomes kind of awkward when the police show up and try to arrest him. Miles has to slip out of the woman’s hug to make his escape.
Though one very fortunate reporter just happens to be nearby, and she captures a picture of the new Spider-Man on her camera phone. She’ll be back!
Back in Mexico City, Prowler is still facing off against Scorpion. Prowler wants his money, Scorpion wants his package. The two stare each other down, haggling a bit. Prowler makes his position known with a rather wicked threat about making Scorpion watch as Prowler tortures one of his loved ones. Scorpion, impressed with Prowler’s edge, relents and hands over the cash. But he still wants his package.
Instead, Prowler gives a knife to the throat!
Prowler tries his electro-zapper again, but that fails too. Scorpion’s too damn tough for that – but not for a kick to the balls.
Prowler plays dirty and makes his escape, only to run straight into a bunch of cops. His electro-zapper shorts out and he’s taken into custody.
Back in Brooklyn, Miles returns home to see his mother – who we haven’t seen since issue #1. Turns out he’s only been at his fancy charter school for about a week, and he goes home on weekends. I thought for sure that more time had passed between when Miles got his powers and when Peter Parker died. In fact, I’m quite confident that several months passed. Miles has definitely spent more than a week at his new school.
Still, let’s just roll with it.
Miles sits down with his mom for a heart-to-heart. You may remember the big talk Miles had with his dad back in issue #2, where he learned the truth about his father’s criminal past and the truth about his Uncle Aaron. Miles is still kind of dealing with those revelations, while at the same time is juggling his big Spider-Man secret. He’s not ready to tell his mom yet, but she can kind of tell that something is wrong.
Miles is worried that criminality runs in the family, that part of him will take after his father and Uncle Aaron. His mom tries to assure Miles that won’t be the case, but Miles tells her to stop. It’s just something he’s been thinking about. It’s not a big deal. Mom would like to keep talking, but then Ganke shows up!
He pulls Miles aside and shows him that his fight against those purse-snatchers was on TV. Miles thinks it’s pretty cool, but Ganke tells him that his fighting technique needs some work. So he brought with him the movie that was made about Spider-Man fighting Doctor Octopus. It was a storyline from the old Ultimate Spider-Man. A film crew was making a fake Spidey movie (Arachno-Man!), only for a real fight to break out in front of the cameras between Spidey and Doc Ock.
The film crew kept filming and released the live footage of the fight straight to DVD. Ganke brought a copy for Miles to watch and study, to learn to be a better Spider-Man than Peter Parker.
Meanwhile, the reporter from earlier is revealed to be Betty Brant. And she pays a visit to notorious skinflint J. Jonah Jameson!
The news story somehow gets reprinted in a Mexican newspaper, and makes its way to Aaron’s cell in some Mexican jail. But he doesn’t read “Mexican” and has no idea what it says – but he wants to know if it means there is a new Spider-Man.
Yep, there sure is, Uncle Aaron!
See what I said about a good issue? It’s got Spider-Man action, with a fun (although not very funny) inner monologue from Miles. It’s got a lot of family time, which has been sorely lacking. I was hoping Miles’ parents, since they don’t die like Uncle Ben, would appear a lot more in the series. But they barely show up. It robs these heart-to-heart talks of some of their emotional weight. Still, it was a nice scene with Miles and his mom. Though, do we even know her name yet? I don’t think we do.
The Ganke scene was less interesting. It is not to the story’s benefit to drudge up some ancient story from Ultimate Spider-Man past.
Let Miles be his own man and learn how to be Spider-Man all on his own. It takes away some of the magic if he’s constantly being tutored and mentored by established guys like Nick Fury or the memories of Peter Parker. He’s a great kid with a lot on his mind, so let us get to know him. Bendis is doing a fine job of that so far, but I want more. Miles isn’t as clearly defined as Peter Parker. That needs some improvement. I don’t want him to just be a copy of Peter, I want him to be his own man.
With the quality of the series so far, I’m sure we’ll get there in time.