***This article contains spoilers for Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #22, on sale now.***
Back in February, Marvel teased "Spider-Man No More!" in May's Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #23, showing burgeoning Spidey Miles Morales dolefully walking away from his costume, in an homage to the cover of Amazing Spider-Man #50 by John Romita.
But what could prove enough to motivate Miles to give up superhero life so early in the game? That answer came in the newly released Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #22, the closing chapter of the "Venom Wars" story arc. In the issue's climax, Miles' supportive mother Rio dies when she's caught in the crossfire as Venom is taken down.
Newsarama talked with prolific Ultimate Comics Spider-Man writer Brian Michael Bendis about the significance of the event and what comes next — including a one-year later time jump — and the departure of original Miles Morales artist Sara Pichelli from the series. Courtesy of Marvel, we're debuting interior art from next month's Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #23 by David Marquez, making his return to the book.
Interior art from
Newsarama: Brian, Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #22 brings the Venom story to a head with the death of Miles' mother. Was this always part of the plan for Miles Morales?
Brian Michael Bendis: Yeah. Spider-Man needs an Uncle Ben. First you think it's his Uncle Aaron, but it's not. It's this. This changes him. This is it. As anyone who's ever lost anybody knows, this is life-altering change.
Now he kind of comes to, "Oh, that's what it feels like to be Peter Parker." It was almost like play acting until now. This is a little kid, and how does he not blame himself?
Nrama: It definitely seems like his Uncle Ben moment, and the reason that, even though it obviously seems like it's only temporary, he appears to be quitting being Spider-Man. So this is something with a tremendous deal of meaning and significance going forward in the story?
Bendis: When people ask, "What's the Ultimate Universe about?" this is, to me, what it's about. These big stories and dramatic changes. You think you know what the story is about, and then, boom, life happens to it.
Right after this, we'll be doing a rather large time jump. We're going to jump a year ahead. Everyone knows the difference between 13 and 14 is pretty gigantic. We're going to come in, and the Ultimate Universe itself will have altered. Even that little teaser at the end there with the Roxxon Corporation shows that things are building up, but it takes time for those things to build up — and we'll be getting right back to it in the next issue.
Nrama: So the time jump picks up right with the next issue, #23?
Bendis: Yes. It is one year later. And here comes Cloak and Dagger.
You've got Miles kind of stuck in the house with a father who will never understand him, ever. It'll never happen. And I think some people can relate to that on some level. How is he going to deal with that? A lot of people thought we were killing the father. He's lost his emotional touchstone.
Then we'll be getting into a story where everyone's kind of rooting for Miles to get over it, and get back into the game, but he just cannot perceive of that ever happening. We'll be meeting Cloak and Dagger, Bombshell from our last volume of Ultimate Spider-Man will be returning, and Gwen Stacy will be part of the book. And his new girlfriend, Katie Bishop. What? Teenage Kate Bishop. Ultimate Kate Bishop.
Nrama: Well, that's unexpected. And there's an Ultimate Power Pack, too, it's been hinted at?
Bendis: Well, you put them all together, and it sounds a little Power Pack-ish. It's not the traditional Power family, but we have a bunch of teens with very specific abilities. And Ganke.
Nrama: From the cover that's been released of Ultimate Cloak and Dagger, they look fairly similar to the original Marvel Universe versions. Is that true character-wise, too?
Bendis: Very different. This is an Ultimate reinvention of these characters. Different type of origin. Very well within what's been going on in the Ultimate Universe, with a lot of stuff going on with corporations and testing and trying stuff out. For those who were following the Ultimate Doomsday trilogy, the Roxxon brain trust will be back doing horrible things.
Nrama: A year's worth of time in the Ultimate Universe is really quite a few issues. I don't even know how many.
Bendis: A hundred and fifty. Peter Parker's birthday was on the 150th issue.
When you write those words on the script, "one year later" — people hate when you do that. They hate it. But I'm telling you, this is where you need to be in the story. Watching a teenager deal with loss for a whole year is not the most dramatic use of time for a comic book. Living in his room, addicted to Netflix.
Nrama: And #22 was Sara Pichelli's last issue on the series?
Spider-Man #23 cover.
Bendis: It is. Off she goes to Guardians of the Galaxy, which she's already started. People will see the first little taste of Sara in the second issue. She's doing certain sequences — it's not like she's filling in pages. She's got a lot of world-building to do, so it's the perfect opportunity for her to get her feet wet, and her design work in. In issues #2 and #3 she does a couple of pages, sequences that are separate from scenes that Steve [McNiven] is doing, and then she's all-in on issue #4, straight through.
Nrama: So that makes Dave Marquez the new main artist of the book?
Bendis: David Marquez is now the artist of Ultimate Spider-Man. And killing it. He's so good at this. It's so subtle, but Miles one year later is physically different. The difference between being 13 and 14 physically is quite seismic for some, and he nailed it. And Ganke as well. The whole cast; it's a different look. Like Ganke, that could be the year he drops a few. Everyone looks a little different, and it's kind of awesome.
It's like going into season four of a series, and then going back and looking at the pilot. "Look at how little they were!" Look at the pilot of iCarly, and look at the last episode. It always goes back to iCarly. It's not even on anymore, and I still do it.
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