Review: Ultimate Comics: All-New Spider-Man #15
The classic Bendis ‘talking heads’ issue is back, and it is glorious! Though I kind of wish there were more characters and their relationships were a little better defined so that the issue could be even better…but this is still good comics. Writer Brian Michael Bendis is renowned for his skill with dialogue. It’s what made the early issues of the original Ultimate Spider-Man so good. His characters were so rich, their scenes together so much fun, that the book couldn’t help but be a hit. Well in this new issue. Bendis slows things down and gives new protagonist Miles Morales a chance to just hang out with his friends and family and be himself.
And if they had something a little more substantial to talk about, this issue would be perfect.
Comic rating: 4/5: Good!
Here is another example of me wishing I used decimals or fractions. The writing in this issue is top notch as Miles, his best friend Ganke, and his parents react and respond to the various big events that have occurred over the past few issues. His parents have to deal with the police investigation into Uncle Aaron’s death, and Ganke gets to geek out over Miles’ new web-shooters. This is top notch stuff and very entertaining. But there’s also a…shallowness to it. Several school officials appear, but we don’t know their names, so they don’t really matter. We finally learn Miles’ father’s name, which goes to show you how deep a character he is. And we get to meet Ultimate Maria Hill! But all of it remains kind of skin deep, I’m afraid.
At least the ending is pretty awesome. Though I still contend that this series would be much better without the need to squeeze the ‘Divided We Fall/United We Stand’ nonsense into the book. Did you guys here that Ultimate Captain America is going to become President? I love when the mainstream media reports on these events from the Ultimate Universe, because I have a hard time imagining a non-comics fan trying to distinguish between the Ultimate characters and the ‘real’ characters.
Either way, join me after the jump for a full synopsis and more review!
We open in the dorm room of Miles and Ganke at the Brooklyn Visions Academy. Miles is trying to study, but Ganke has this great idea for how Spider-Man can become the most popular hero ever!
It’s…not the best idea Ganke’s ever had. But it’s a fine example of Bendis’ dialogue skills. This is the kind of thing two friends like Miles and Ganke would chat about on their own. Though have I ever asked how Ganke got into the Academy? Miles won a big lottery to get into the prestigious academy in the first issue, but Miles and Ganke were friends before that. Did Ganke also win the lottery to get in? Or was Ganke getting in anyway due to rich parents or something? I dunno…but the two are usually fun.
Miles wants to study, but Ganke says that he won’t get back to studying until Miles shows him the web-shooters.
So they lock the door and put a bunch of stuff in front of it, then Miles opens the box that Aunt May gave them. Ganke is very impressed. May even gave Miles the secret formula to make more web fluid, which Miles hopes Ganke will figure out, since Ganke is the smart one. But Ganke points out that designing his own Lego Death Star is not the same as this kind of higher chemistry.
Nice little comedic buddy/buddy scene.
But then there’s shouting outside the door as someone wants to know why it’s locked. I thought it would be Judge, their sad sack third roommate, but nope, it’s a school counselor. Miles and Ganke quickly unlock the door and the guy bursts in – to find Miles in a robe complaining about wanting privacy when he gets changed. The counselor buys that excuse, but tells them to keep the door unlocked before he leaves. Thankfully, he did not look up.
Sometime later, Miles returns home to visit his parents, only to find the place surrounded by police cars. He rushes inside and finds they are being interviewed by Detective Maria Hill, homicide division. I believe this is the first appearance of Maria Hill in the Ultimate Universe. She says she is ex-S.H.I.E.L.D., which is kind of weird. You’d think Marvel would want her in S.H.I.E.L.D. as much as possible, considering her appearance in The Avengers movie. Anyway, Hill wants to speak with Miles’ too, against his father’s wishes. Jefferson Morales doesn’t want his son involved in this. So I guess his first name is ‘Jefferson’. Good to finally know!
I don’t yet think we know Miles’ mom’s name…
So Miles explains that he used to hang out with his Uncle Aaron, but his dad told him Aaron was bad, so he stopped. Of course, Miles knows everything that happened between Spider-Man and the Prowler, so he’s hiding a lot from Hill and his folks, and he’s obviously scared to come clean. Miles’ dad insists that Spider-Man killed Aaron, but Maria Hill points out that that might not be the case. She explains that the police know that Prowler was killed by his faulty equipment, not Spider-Man. Miles is very pleased to hear this.
Though Hill also points out that the police are trying to determine what changed in Aaron’s life that would convince him to go from a smalltime crook to a wannabe kingpin. Miles doesn’t say a word, despite knowing that Aaron thought he could use Miles to become the new kingpin of crime.
In the end, though, Miles says nothing. Hill graciously leaves.
Later, in the school library, Ganke celebrates the fact that Miles didn’t kill his uncle. Though Miles is pretty sure the giant bear hug in the middle of the library is inappropriate. Soon after, an announcement comes through the school, calling all students to the gymnasium. As they make the walk, Miles and Ganke talk about what Miles should do next, circling around the idea that he should reach out to Captain America for training. But Miles figures Cap has a lot more on his hands at the moment, what with the country falling apart.
Sure enough, that’s what the announcement is about. One of the school leaders, who I think we saw briefly in a previous issue, tells the students that they are closing down the Academy. The United States have become too volatile, so they’re sending everyone home. This is lame. Bendis has barely scratched the surface of the school, and now he’s having to shut it down (hopefully temporarily) for this crossover. Color me less than enthused.
But this gives Miles more free time to be Spider-Man. And he decides to hitch a ride on a helicopter to go visit the Triskelion, the home of the Ultimates! But it’s wet and raining, and Miles doesn’t necessarily have this web-slinging thing figured out just yet.
Some soldiers don’t seem to recognize Spider-Man, so they start shooting the trespasser. Miles manages to web them up before trying to flee. But he slips in a puddle and crashes on his ass.
Which is exactly when Captain America shows up and asks what Miles thinks he’s doing. Miles says he’s ready to join the Ultimates. Sign him up!
Not much Spider-Man this issue, but that’s A-OK with me. We need a lot more time with Miles and his personal life. But as I said earlier, there just isn’t enough of it, I don’t think. Peter Parker not only had Aunt May, but there was also his entire class of fellow students, plus J. Jonah Jameson and the other characters at the Daily Bugle. Peter had a lot of different and unique people to interact with, which made Bendis’ ‘talking heads’ issues a lot of fun. But Miles really only has Ganke. Judge never became much of a character, and while we’ve seen those school counselors and officials before, I’ll be damned if we know their names. And they definitely haven’t had any sort of impact on Miles’ life. The Academy needs a Jameson-like figure.
Otherwise, the Miles/Ganke stuff was fun. It’s a little juvenile, but then they are still just 13-years-old. I guess this is what kids their age would talk about. But it’s getting to the point where I’d like to know more about them. How did they meet? What do Ganke’s parents think of Miles? What do Miles’ parents think of Ganke?
I don’t know where all of this stuff is supposed to fit in, but I still want it. The original Ultimate Spider-Man was slower paced than this. By issue #15, Spider-Man had fought the Green Goblin, Electro and the Kingpin. Miles has fought half a dozen different villains, often in the space of just one issue. Bendis is throwing too much at us too fast. This issue is a good indication of what he can do if he slows down.
Not that this stupid crossover is going to let him do that…