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Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Reader's Diary #1140- Brian Michael Bendis (Writer) and Sara Pichelli (Artist): Ultimate Comics Spider-Man

Okay, it took me a while to a while find this one. I went looking for the comic in which Miles Morales, a black Hispanic teenager, first takes the reins from the now deceased Peter Parker. Here's why I had difficulty: I had accidentally picked up the 1st Ultimate Spider-Man. Ultimate Comics Spider-Man, as it it turns out, is the sequel to Ultimate Spider-Man, and the one I really wanted. That single word "Comics" made all the difference, despite both of them actually being comics. I complained last week that having a Captain Marvel and a Ms. Marvel, who are not one and the same, is confusing, but the Ultimate vs Ultimate Comics thing is just ridiculous. It's like newcomers are not welcome in the comic book store. Shocking, I know.

But, I suppose, it was worth the effort. I wasn't sure how I'd feel about it at first, having someone else other than Peter Parker behind the mask. I mean it's not the first time a superhero's alter ego has changed. There's been multiple people known as the Green Lantern, there's been three versions of Ant-Man, and there are probably loads of other examples. But I was never into those characters as a kid (truth be known, I wasn't even aware of Ant-Man, who would have been totally up my alley) and to me Spider-Man has always been Peter Parker. And unlike the grating and sniveling Clark Kent or the pretentious Bruce Wayne, Peter Parker was every bit as enjoyable as his superhero persona.

But, Bendis passes the gauntlet skillfully. He's chosen a wholly likeable young teen (younger, I ever remember Peter Parker being), given him a similar origin story while keeping the character still sufficiently unique (even with some different abilities), and acknowledging that the whole thing might be a tough sell with the fans. After Parker's death, Morales appears in a Spider-Man costume bought as a Halloween costume, prompting calls from the public and other superheroes to call it out for being in poor taste. To Miles, however, a long time fan of Spider-Man, he only intended it to be a tribute.

There's also an appearance from Spider Woman that I was excited to see because I am still, as I said above, a bit of a newcomer, and wanted to know more about the character. I was, however, more confused than ever. Morales, who was aware of Spider-Man, also had no idea who she was or that she had even existed. So how she fits in to the Marvel comics world, I'm not sure. I guess in this case, though, Marvel is using my ignorance to their advantage because I'm intrigued enough to pick up more of her titles.

I had mixed feelings about the artwork. I loved the new suit on the cover (drawn by Kaare Andrews) and was impressed how rubbery and real it looked. As for Pichelli's art work on the inside I was less than enthusiastic. She did a great job with expressive characters, but I'm a sucker for detailed backgrounds and too many of her panels were left blank. Sometimes, instead of just a uniform colour in the background, pseudo-newsprint dots (or halftone dots) were used which was slightly better giving the book a pop art feel and ever-so-subtly suggesting that Miles will become a "classic" character but I still would have preferred a bit more effort with the details.

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