Review: Cataclysm: Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man #1
Cataclysm is upon us. The Ultimate Universe has been chugging along for more than a decade now, and with Cataclysm, it looks like we might be at the end. We comic book fans don’t yet know what’s going to happen at the end, but all signs are pointing to some kind of cancellation of the Ultimate line. Or maybe a streamlining? Who can really say? All I know is that Galactus, Devourer of Worlds, has crossed the interdimensional barrier and plans on eating the planet Earth in the Ultimate Universe. All of the Ultimate heroes are scrambling to deal with the problem, including our much-beloved Miles Morales – which is a huge shame, since this means Miles’ book might be cancelled. It seems writer Brian Michael Bendis got the memo a little too late.
With the first issue of this Cataclysm tie-in, Bendis proves that he fully intended to just keep writing Ultimate Spider-Man, regardless of whatever cosmic demigods decided to show up. That means this issue is even more bittersweet.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
The last few issues of Ultimate Spider-Man were all about Miles teaming up with Spider-Woman, Bombshell, Cloak and Dagger for a wacky adventure against the Roxxon Corporation. This issue, despite being renamed and renumbered to tie-in to Cataclysm, picks up exactly where the last issues left off, following all four of those characters in the aftermath of their team-up. In all honesty, and some spoilers, Galactus doesn’t even show up until the very last page. This is less a tie-in than it is Ultimate Spider-Man #29. On the one hand, there’s nothing wrong with that, because I could read Bendis writing the daily lives of these characters until the cows come home. But if this is truly the end, if these characters are soon to be gone forever, then it’s kind of a waste of an issue. Bendis could have found a lot more to do in terms of Miles, his family and his friends reacting to the end of the world.
If you’re at all invested in Miles and his Amazing Friends, you should enjoy this issue. I know I did. The art by David Marquez is as amazing as ever. The pencils are a little sketchier than I’m used to, but the art remains top notch. Bendis’ writing is, likewise, a ton of fun to read. There’s a fantastic scene between Spider-Woman and the Ultimates, and solid scenes for the rest of them. It’s clear that Bendis has stories in mind for everyone. I just really hope he gets a chance to tell them to completion.
We open with Spider-Woman at the Triskelion, meeting with the Ultimates. She’s worried that she’s going to be fired for going off the books to attack Roxxon, but the rest of the Ultimates couldn’t seem to care less. Besides, there are some far more interesting things to discuss.
I wonder how long Bendis has been sitting on that little routine. It’s quite funny. Though she should be careful about telling Tony Stark that she has lady parts.
The Ultimates discuss an investigation into Roxxon, though eventually the conversation shifts into Tony Stark and Captain America asking about Miles. Jessica tells them that Spider-Man is doing great.
As for Miles himself, he’s falling asleep in class. Though when the teacher tries to embarrass him, Miles is still able to wake up in time to answer her question perfectly. Sleep hearing is a special power of his, it seems.
Elsewhere, Bombshell is getting yelled at by her probation officer. She wasn’t supposed to use her powers, but it’s all over the news how she helped Spider-Man attack Roxxon. At least Bombshell has her heart in the right place.
Bombshell eventually walks out on the angry man and blows up his phone before he can call the authorities. Once she’s alone in the stairwell, however, she sits and laments all the trouble her mother has gotten her into.
Back to Spider-Man, Miles is running around New York when he comes upon a bar fight that has spilled out onto the sidewalk. He jumps down, and his mere presence causes most people to scatter. Miles webs up the broken glass of the bar, and is about to leave when the police show up. Then, in an unexpected turn of events, the cops are very happy to see him.
All the cops are happy to see Spider-Man back protecting the streets, and they leave him to his business.
Elsewhere, Cloak and Dagger go to visit her parents, only to find the house all boarded up. Seems her family moved after they thought their daughter died. Dagger is heartbroken, and they teleport away to a nearby rooftop. Cloak tries to comfort her, but he’s clearly not sure how. He suggests they try and make a go at being superheroes. They enjoyed teaming up with Spider-Man, after all. So maybe they could…
Oh wait, Galactus.
See what I mean? This issue had absolutely nothing to do with Cataclysm. How much you want to bet Bendis had this script turned in months in advance, then they came to him and said, “We’re doing this Cataclysm thing, change your script.” Everything about this issue just continues the story of the last one. Bendis is clearly building to something with his little band of Amazing Friends, and I want to read that story. Why must we be denied that fun adventure?
Bendis’ character work was as good as ever in this issue. I especially enjoyed the scene at the beginning, with the Ultimates. The wordplay back and forth between Spider-Woman and the others is laugh out loud quippy. In the reverse, the scenes with Bombshell and Cloak and Dagger are equally heart-breaking. I feel for the duo’s loss, and I definitely understand Bombshell’s annoyance at the system. She’s in way over her heard, and all she wants to do now is help people and use her powers for good. Why won’t the world just get out of her way? Bendis is clearly working on a lot of great stories with this series. The only one who didn’t really get much attention this issue is Spider-Man. Miles pretty much just coasted his way through in his own comic.
So the question is, if this is the end, why bother focusing on the side characters? And if it’s not the end, then what the heck is going to happen?