Best Shots Extra: ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #1


Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #1

Written by Brian Michael Bendis

Art by Sara Pichelli and Justin Ponsor

Lettering by Cory Petit

Published by Marvel Comics

Review by David Pepose

'Rama Rating: 10 out of 10

"Holy %@$%. This is some really @#$@ing good ^$#@."

No, that's not a line from Brian Michael Bendis, although he's been known to throw an ampersand here and there in his dialogue-heavy comics. Nope, that was a line from me, out loud, reading Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #1. And that's saying something. I don't bow to the altar of Bendis — I just panned his latest issue of Moon Knight two days ago — but this is some whole new level kind of stuff.

To be honest, if there was any flaw with this book at all, it was that it ended too soon.

Where do I begin? Well, the biggest victory that Bendis scores with Miles Morales is that he makes us care about him, and care about him quickly. Even though we're still scratching the surface of what makes him tick, we're seeing the world through his eyes, and it's similar to Peter Parker's but a whole lot tougher. But that kind of Parker-style guilt — that neurotic, nearly masochistic tendency for self-sacrifice that comes with great power and greater responsibility — is still intact. Miles doesn't get a lot of lines in this book, but when he wins the lottery for a charter school, his response says all we need to know about this kid: "It shouldn't--all these other kids. Should it be like this?" I like him already.

But you know what, I've been giving Bendis a bit too much praise, and not enough spotlight on Sara Pichelli, who takes everything we've seen from her in the past and bench-presses it like it was nothing. She's very much channeling the vibe of Stuart Immonen, particularly with her early pages of a seminal Spidey villain sneering, but there's a real humanity here, especially with Miles' family. I love the way that another Spidey throwback appears in this book, with a sweet smile on his face as he (hopefully) finds salvation amidst a robbery. It's a very clean, animated style, and her sense of layout — even if it often breaks across two pages, in the Bendis style — is super-smooth. Justin Ponsor is also swinging for the fences with his colorwork, giving a really nuanced, layered style for the characters in this book. If it wasn't for him, I doubt Pichelli's work would look half this good.

There's only two things I think people might take issue with, one being fair, the other one not. What is fair is feeling a letdown that the book ends when it does — Bendis is really on his A-game here, with an A-list artistic talent, and the book cuts out just when the going is getting really good. That's decompression right there, and there are a few pages that go on for a long time that could probably have had a panel sliced off here and there. Whatever. That's small stuff. The unfair thing, however, is comparing this issue with Bendis's very first issues of Ultimate Spider-Man. This is a very different beast, and without that timeless Stan Lee/Steve Ditko original story as its spine, it's hard to pull off something as iconic as Bendis did. That kind of lightning may not strike twice, but damn if Bendis and Pichelli aren't doing just about everything right here. So you know what? I'll be the first one to say it, True Believers:

Make mine Morales.

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