Review: Miles Morales: The Ultimate Spider-Man #1

About a year ago, for my friend’s wedding, I bought him his first Miles Morales comic (I also bought him a toaster that burns the Spider-Man logo into the middle of the bread, but that’s beside the point). I bought him the hardcover collected edition of Miles’ debut. My friend is a diehard Spider-Man fan, especially Ultimate Spider-Man. He’s also the kind of casual comic book reader who didn’t know in advance that Ultimate Peter Parker was going to die, and when it happened, he felt a real, emotional loss that still stings to this day. The dude loved Spider-Man.

Ultimate Spider-Man #1

He was hesitant to give Miles Morales a try, but he finally got around to reading the comic earlier this year. When he told me he liked it, I told him to keep reading, because it only gets better.

Miles Morales is back, and even though the comic has a new title and a new #1, I’m very happy to say that it’s business as usual for the Web-Slinger.

Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.

Forget everything you know about Cataclsym…mostly. A few of the events from that story, like the death of Captain America and the disappearance of Miles’ dad, play into this new issue, but for the most part, people seem to have moved on from Galactus threatening to destroy the planet. Life goes on. Ultimate Spider-Man goes on, and for that I’m grateful. I said it all the time in the build-up to Cataclysm: Ultimate Spider-Man is too damn good to get caught up in all that other nonsense. But at least when Bendis does get wrapped up into that stuff, he handles it with his standard aplomb.

Miles and the gang are back and up to their old tricks, the major events of the past few weeks barely even registering. Miles is still Spider-Man. He’s still dating Kate Bishop. Ganke is still hanging around. The only real change is that Miles’ dad has taken off. I thought Miles’ reveal to his father during Cataclysm was rushed, and a poor place to insert such an important moment, but it happened and we have to live with it now. And like I said, Bendis handles it superbly. He makes Jefferson’s abandonment a real sticking point for Miles. I’m confident Bendis will turn this into a quality storyline in the future.

Even though Marvel has slapped yet another mouthful of a title on this series, it remains the same Ultimate Spidey we know and love. Though I feel bad for my friend who’s going to have to wade through Cataclysm, Divided We Fall and any other Big Ultimate Events that I’ve forgotten about.

The issue begins with Norman Osborn. He’s not dead, obviously. But man…why isn’t he dead? What the hell possible reason could Nick Fury have for keeping Norman Osborn alive? That guy is worse than the Joker at escaping prisons to wreak more havoc. With SHIELD dissolved, custody of Norman is being turned over to some other agency, to the delight of the agent whose job it was to watch Norman…and who looks exactly like Ganke.

A lot has changed with Cataclysm

I know it’s going to be cool for Miles to fight the Green Goblin, but there is no reason why Norman Osborn should still be alive.

Cut to a warehouse in Brooklyn, where two guys are talking about Captain America’s chances at a resurrection, before they’re interrupted by a pair of spidery-looking twins who proceed to rob the place.

They don’t even look close to Spider-Man

These twins don’t look like any obvious characters, so I guess they’re just new villains! Yet somehow the media immediately seems to latch on them being like Spider-Man. Not sure why exactly. They look nothing like Spidey.

At the Brooklyn Visions Academy, Miles and his girlfriend Katie are making out in a stairwell, and Miles has to make up some lame excuse to explain why he didn’t answer Katie’s texts the night before. He was really out with the New Ultimates, but he can’t tell her that…at least not yet. They talk about how Miles’ dad is still gone, and how Miles goes home at least once every day to see if he returns. Unfortunately, Miles can’t really explain to Katie why his dad is gone. Miles knows his dad isn’t dead, which is what both Katie and the police assume, considering how many people Galactus killed. And again, Miles is finding it hard to lie to his girlfriend. That’s going to be important in a moment.

The pair of them get caught by a teacher, and in one wordless scene from Miles, Bendis and artist David Marquez really nail his character. Miles Morales is a quiet guy, and you really have to read his face to understand what he’s feeling. Fortunately, Marquez is absolutely brilliant on pencils.

It’s what he doesn’t say that matters

Later that day, Norman Osborn breaks out of his prison transport truck, because of course he does.

Also later that day, Miles is hanging out with Ganke, and tells his best bud that he wants to come clean about being Spider-Man to Katie. Ganke is against the idea, though first the pair share some classic Bendis banter.

Stay focused, boys

When he and Ganke can’t settle the matter, Miles turns to Mary Jane Watson and asks her about when Peter Parker shared the truth with her. Mary Jane is much more in favor of Miles telling his girlfriend, as long as he’s sure that she’s the one.

Mary Jane, dispenser of teenage wisdom

Miles swings home to check on the place, though first he spots a Daily Bugle article about those twin thieves…but chooses to ignore it for now, considering everything else on his plate. When he gets home, his dad still isn’t back…but there’s somebody else inside!

Still with the crappy haircut

Now that’s quite the cliffhanger!

My guess and hope is that we’re looking at the Ultimate Scorpion, who was the subject of one of my very first Forgotten Characters segments! I always wanted that guy to come back. And there’s no way it’s the real Ultimate Peter Parker back from the dead. No way.

This was a quick synopsis, but we’re just easing back into Miles’ life here. Technically, a lot has happened, but thankfully, it doesn’t really effect the quality of the story. There were no huge changes to Miles’ status quo, and he can just get back to being Spider-Man and dealing with the stresses of his young life. The kid’s got a lot of stress for a teenager. And it makes for some good comics. Bendis is his usual quality self, filling the book with touching and insightful conversations between its characters. Miles going to Mary Jane was a lot of fun, and I’m always excited to see him interact with someone from Peter Parker’s life. And Ganke remains a really great supporting character in his own right. I’m just very pleased to see Ultimate Spider-Man back on track because I have been loving Miles’ story since the first issue.

Marquez is great on pencils, as he’s always been. He’s got a very realistic style, but not as photo-realistic as Bryan Hitch. Marquez’s characters look and emote like real people. He’s done some especially great work on Miles, who often keeps his words bottled up, his emotions instead splashed across his face. That’s one of the great triumphs of this comic and this series. I loved that scene where Miles was so close to calling out the teacher. Superb work all around.

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 May 9, 2014, in Comics, Marvel, Reviews, Spider-Man and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Joe McCormick

    I have been really wanting to follow Miles’ story since it began but missed it, would this be a good time to pick it up??

    also I have the same haircut as “peter” at the end…soooo yeah, now I feel bad

    • Ha! Sorry about the haircut crack! I’m just a fan of short hair. I never understood how Peter managed to stuff all that floppy hair under his perfectly round and smooth Spidey mask!

      Hmmm, good question though about picking it up here. On the one hand, I would say no, because a lot of what happens in this issue is tied into what came before, like the disappearance of Miles’ dad and why he’s gone.

      On the other hand, I would say yes, because the issue takes a little tour through Miles’ life at the moment, introducing important characters and giving you a sense of who everybody is and what they mean to the series. The comic takes the time to explain a bit about why his dad is gone. Plus Miles is really great in this issue, so it’s definitely a strong introduction to the character. You can get a real sense of who he is in costume and out.

      If you read Ultimate Spider-Man before, when it starred Peter Parker, that would help. It’s still the same world, with a lot of the same characters – like Mary Jane Watson – and it still feels like Ultimate Spider-Man. There’s just a new kid wearing the costume, and he brings with him his own friends and love interests.

      So I would say ‘yes’, this is a fine issue to start with. You get a good sense of Miles as a person, you get to meet the important supporting characters in his life. There’s a fun cameo from Mary Jane. And any other backstory you missed – like the stuff with Miles’ dad – can easily be Googled.

  2. Joe McCormick

    Don’t worry about the hair thing (i never got how he got it under the mask either)

    Thanks for the help, I’ll pick it up at my local, I’ll inquire about previous issues too just in case they have them as they have a lot of old issues of comics, some even dating back 30 years.

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