Review: Ultimate Comics: All-New Spider-Man #17

I criticized the last issue for having a generic fight scene, one that I thought had little to do with the conflict as a whole, and with Miles Morales in particular. Brian Michael Bendis must have read my review, because not only does this new fight actually feel like it matters for Miles, but Bendis gives Miles’ mom and dad some real drama of their own. We also finally learn his mom’s name! But it just raises more questions, like why Miles’ mom and dad have different last names, and why Miles’ took his mom’s name. What’s up with that?

But that’s just me getting off on a tangent. The real story is in Miles going to war!

Comic rating: 4/5: Good!

For reals, this is Miles on the front lines of an epic superhero battle! They try to make it out to be a war, because mostly it involves armed soldiers, but this is definitely a superhero battle. An epic, bombastic superhero brawl! For the most part. I’m sure if I was reading the rest of ‘United We Stand’ it would seem even cooler, but I’m not. So instead, I’m just focused on how it effects Miles Morales and what it means for his story. I’m happy to say that it means a lot. There’s still a sense of Miles feeling in over his head, along with having the same sort of luck he usually has in fights. But there’s also a sense that he’s learning from this, growing from it. And the cliffhanger should prove to be excellent for Miles’ development going forward, which I’m always excited about.

And like I said before, there are some great developments for Miles’ parents. I don’ t think  Bendis has explored these characters as much as he could or should. Miles’ parents still being alive (and not being a dithering old bitty like Aunt May) is a huge difference between Miles Morales and Peter Parker. But Bendis had Miles shipped off to a private boarding school rather than explore his parents. Perhaps some of the events in this issue will change things for the better.

Join me after the jump for a full synopsis and more review!

We open with a flash forward. Miles is walking across some large, empty fields in the middle of nowhere.

He’s tired, his costume is a mess, but he just keeps walking. A SHIELD plane flies overhead, but he can’t get its attention. Miles is all alone and he just wants to go home.

Four hours prior, Miles is among a group of superheroes on a Helicarrier outside Wyoming. SHIELD is heading into a battle against Hydra in the Town of Casper. Hawkeye is leading the charge, and gives everyone a big speech about how they’re going to be awesome and save the day. He tells them that this is a war, and they should be prepared for a war. He’s got Falcon, Invisible Woman and two giant people, along with dozens of soldiers. He also has Miles and Spider-Woman, and orders the two of them to stay together, much to Spider-Woman’s dismay. She’d prefer to go alone, but this was a direct order from President Captain America.

And then it’s war time!

The battle is a whole lot of chaos, but we stick pretty close to Miles during the fight. The biggest problem is a wave of War Machine assault armors. Spider-Man might be in a little over his head!

But we’ll get back to Miles later. Right now, we’re jumping over to his dad, Jefferson Davis, who was arrested by SHIELD last issue for causing a scene at a barricade. Jefferson and two other guys are in the back of an armored van being taken to a detention center, and Jefferson just won’t shut up about his rights being violated. The three men bicker for a bit about their situation before the armored van is attacked by HYDRA! They open fire and knock over the van, then the HYDRA terrorists free Jefferson and the two other men. HYDRA is fighting to free America from the corruption of SHIELD, and they offer the three men their freedom and a piece of the prize, if they want it.

But what’s Jefferson Davis going to do?

We’ll find out later, because we cut back to the Battle of Wyoming. Miles is still in the thick of battle, and Spider-Woman grabs him and carries him to a safe (relatively speaking) location. She begs him to stay out of the fight, otherwise he’s going to die. But Miles ignores her warning and webs an incoming War Machine. He rodeo rides the foe high up into the sky, then gets blasted off. Miles web-swings on a passing helicopter and finds his way back down to the ground, narrowly avoiding a grenade with Spider-Woman. They hide behind a jeep, and Miles asks her what her problem is with him, why she acts like she hates him. Miles wants to know their connection!

Which is weird. Didn’t he see her without her mask on when she gave him his costume? Wouldn’t he see the resemblance to Peter Parker?

Their conversation is interrupted by a War Machine.

Back in Manhattan, we finally learn Miles’ mom’s name! It’s Rio Morales!

And again, I ask, why does she have a different name than Jefferson Davis? Are they not married? And even if they’re not married, why does Miles have her name? Don’t babies usually take their father’s last name, regardless of anything else? And it’s clear that Jefferson and Rio are in love, so why this name difference?

Regardless, Rio arrives at the same barricade that blocked Jefferson last issue. She also tries to get through to the guards, but she’s slightly nicer about it. Rio is far more worried and nervous for her family than obstinate. She also has more luck than Jefferson, in that things have calmed down enough in the world that the guard gets orders to open the street. Rio rushes home and finds her husband relaxing on the couch – with an AK-47 in his lap. Jefferson seems dazed and lost in his own thoughts. Rio kneels down in front of him and asks, with tears in her eyes, where he got the gun? And where is their son?

Why, he’s in Wyoming, saving the President from War Machines!

I bet they’d be so proud, if only they knew. There’s also a brief moment where Spider-Woman explains that this isn’t the time or place for Miles to learn to be a superhero. “Not here and not like this,” she tells him.

Spider-Man and the evil War Machine crash into the shoulder of one of the giant women, then crash into the field below. And there Spider-Man lies unconscious for several hours, finally coming to sometime later, meeting up with the flash forward at the start of the issue. He’s alone in the middle of a giant field in Wyoming. Not the easiest place to be for a kid who’s probably never left Brooklyn.

But this could be brilliant in the next issue as Miles tries to get home. How’s he going to do it without exposing his identity somehow? Will he feel compelled to call home to his parents for help? I’m eager to see what happens. Though how did the entire battle end and clear out and leave him all alone? Nobody noticed him lying over there? It’s not like he rode that War Machine for miles. They crashed at the feet of a giant woman. Did Spider-Woman really just abandon Miles like that?

I suppose we may find out more next issue. Or maybe I should have read Ultimate #18. Either way, I’m excited to see what happens to Miles and his parents. With Spider-Woman’s help, I felt that he really grew in this battle, though perhaps not in the right directions. This war, this battle, was definitely not the place to get his feet wet in the world of superheroics. Will Miles learn from that? And the occupation of New York has really pushed his parents into a fascinating place. I wonder what Jefferson did to get back to his apartment with that gun.

For once, I finally feel that Bendis has made the most of this Divided We Fall/United We Stand storyline. Let’s hope he can keep the momentum going as he returns to normal business.

About Sean Ian Mills

Hello, this is Sean, the Henchman-4-Hire! By day I am a mild-mannered newspaper reporter in Central New York, and by the rest of the day I'm a pretty big geek when it comes to video games, comic books, movies, cartoons and more.

Posted on November 26, 2012, in Comics, Marvel, Reviews, Spider-Man and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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