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.

Cataclysm Spider-Man #1

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.

She learned evil from you, mom! She learned it from you!

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.

Police hugtality!

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.

Maybe he knows where their parents went

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?

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 25, 2013, in Comics, Marvel, Reviews, Spider-Man and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. Oh man, these guys are so dead. And now they have pathos.

  2. I heard that they are not going to cancel the Ultimate line but rather make it “Digital Only”, I don’t know, maybe they think that way they can save money on paper or something.

  3. The question really is, “Why is there a need for the Ultimate line any more?” The whole “it’s a totally different thing with no baggage” isn’t true because it’s not new anymore and it has scads of baggage. In fact, the ultimate versions of the characters have pretty much become the movie characters which, in turn, has morphed their 616 counterparts into largely the same person. The only real argument for keeping the universe is that Ultimate Spider-Man has been so good for so long that ending that book would be a crime against comics. If they want to take it digital, I’m fine with that. Lord knows the last two events have been confusing enough to any new readers that have wandered in to see what’s going on without popping the, “oh and there are are two universes” thing on them. I refuse to read any Spider-Man book until Dr. Octopus gets the hell out of Peter’s head (no, I don’t care if they’re good or not, that was the too dumb for words and Peter’s got a movie in five months…Ock’s days are numbered). Essentially they can raze the Ultimate universe to the ground as long as they put the Ultimate Spidey world in a bubble and preserve it somewhere, somehow. The rest of the universe has outlived its usefulness.

    • Oh man, Superior Spider-Man is really good! You’re missing out!

      And I completely agree with your take on the Ultimate Universe. Ultimates and Ultimate X-Men have been totally radioactive for the longest time now, as far as I’m concerned. I wouldn’t miss them in the least. But Marvel has a damn good thing going with Miles Morales. If Marvel only published Ultimate Spider-Man and nothing else from the Ultimate Line, I would be perfectly content and happy.

      • I disagree, I think the problem is akin to that of a kid that got tired of an old toy, they all wanted to play with it when it was new but now they want to put it aside because its hard to write stories for it, but just because is harder doesn’t mean they can’t, just that they don’t try anymore, all it need is a shake, for example “Ultimate comics X-men” has been great since Wood came along by writing interesting stories and putting a different spin in their situation and “The Ultimates” has been somewhat decent for a while now, the problem with being that it feels like is a book that is about to be canceled so they rush some things, I believe that if they were to put a new writer like with Wood and giving him the time to rebuild the characters like he wants without a timer on their back MARVEL can still use the Ultimate universe, also I think that instead of seeing it as a “place without baggage” like in the begining it should be like with the “What ifs” and see it like a place where the creators can tell stories they couldn’t in 616, I mean, where else can you see Reed Richards go evil and kill Tony to take out an infinite gem that growed in his brain?

      • I kind of feel like they set that up a little in Spider-Men when Peter looks up who Miles is in 616 and we never find out wht the deal is (of course it could just be like Hawkeye looking in the damn closet in New Avengers NO BENDIS I WILL NEVER GET OVER THE CLOSET THING!!!). But it’s not just Miles it’s Ultimate Jonah and May and Gwen and MJ so if they just let the rest of the universe burn and do a web comic that gets collected a’la Injustice Gods Among Us or Lil’ Gotham, I’d settle for that. The rest of the universe is an important Marvel milestone because if you look at it’s beginnings, those are the Marvel mainstream characters NOW. They were able to reinvent them off to the side and slowly segue them over.
        I cannot get past what they did to Peter for his 700th issue. I can’t get over that they renumbered Amazing (I’m one of those renumbering fiends), but it’s the DUMBEST death, even though it was so transparently temporary in the history of comics. I know it’s good. I’ve got scads of comic bros telling me its good, but I want Peter back. I can’t believe the killed him in both universes within a year. The Ultimate death was one of the most traumatic I’ve had as a reader because I didn’t think and don’t think they’ll bring him back. Bendis’ USM, when taken as a whole, has to be ranked among the greatest books and runs in the history of the medium. Even when it’s been ok, it’s been better than 90% of what’s out there. It’s the book he was born to write and the book I think he’ll most be remembered for fifty years from now.

      • I definitely agree with Xavier that a lot more can be done with the Ultimate line. It is kind of the ultimate ‘What If’ comic. They made Captain America president, after all. But that can only be sustained for so long. These stories only matter if they obey the rules they create for themselves, if they stick to the same world. The problem is, once all the original writers started getting replaced, the purity of those original comics was lost. They keep trying to reinvent the status quo, to varying success, but the original magic is hard to recapture. That Bendis managed to succeed with Miles is miracle enough.

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