It’s honestly hard to keep up with where these stories go. A long time ago, Peter Parker died in the Ultimate Universe and Miles Morales, a teenager, took up the mantle of Spider-Man. Lots happened, Miles lost his mother, took a year off, fought Galactus and then came back as the Ultimate Universe, once thought on its last legs, got rebooted. I’ve reviewed some of it in the past but now, in the ongoing Miles Morales: The Ultimate Spider-Man series, things go entirely sideways.
If one Spidey is good, why not two?
It wasn’t long ago, in fact in All New Ultimates, that Miles revealed to his father that he is Spider-Man and his father didn’t take it well. In fact, he just hoofed it, leaving Miles bunking at his best friend Ganke’s house. Miles, for as badly as being honest turned out the last time, still thinks he ought to tell his girlfriend, Katie Bishop, the truth about his secret identity. Everyone tells him he’s crazy to even consider such a thing, especially for a relationship so young. Miles consults with Mary Jane who tells him that Peter told her the truth very early in their relationship and that his honesty made the difference in their staying together. However, when Miles goes back to his house, hoping his father has come back, he comes across Peter Parker himself, who is now back from the dead somehow and has returned for his web-shooters. He knocks Miles out and takes the web-shooters, leaving Miles to try and fight crime without them. But who is this Peter Parker? A clone? A robot? Or maybe the real thing? And why won’t he go back and tell his Aunt May and Mary Jane the truth? Meanwhile, Norman Osborne, also thought dead, escapes from former S.H.I.E.L.D. custody and goes after Miles, wanting to repeat the fight in which both he and Peter Parker were apparently killed. But with two Spider-Men on the scene, will history repeat itself or can they figure out how to take down Osborne once and for all? And once Miles tells Katie, will the deep, dark secret that she and her parents share be the undoing for the Ultimate Spider-Man?
Following the real panning that I gave All-New Ultimates, I was a little hesitant to jump into another new Ultimate Universe book but I’m pleasantly surprised. Spidey, being the first of the Ultimate books has always been the strongest contender and since Bendis is still at the helm, having shepherded this book for the past 14 years, I had nothing at all to worry about. It did bring back Peter Parker. Not a clone, not a robot, the real deal. However, this isn’t the same Peter Parker we all knew who swung around town and fought crime. This is an older, tougher and more tired Peter Parker who really wants to put the fight behind him and he eventually gives his blessing to Miles to be Spider-Man permanently. I think this was an important move because most people still compared Miles to Peter and since Peter’s death was not a clear passing of the torch to Miles, it’s nice to have it made official. Miles isn’t a Spider-Man wannabe, he’s actually Spider-Man.
Artwise, David Marquez does an excellent job, his work continues to impress and I couldn’t imagine a better artist for this title. My only issue, especially toward the end of this arc, is that it just takes too long to get anywhere. The reveal of Norman Osborne’s return to Green Goblin is too slow and the final battle is very repetitive. Miles zaps Goblin. Norman gives some exposition, mostly by babbling. This gives Norman time to transform back into Goblin. Lather, rinse, repeat. It’s not horrible but it does take the air out of the tires of the story, there just isn’t a lot of drama in it. This isn’t typical Bendis either, I don’t know if the Marvel Brass told him to stretch it out for a trade or what but hopefully the future will be better.
There are a lot of different Spider-Mans running around at the moment, probably a different version for just about every taste. I’ve never been completely sold on Miles Morales, I’m always going to be a Peter Parker fan, but every once in a while, change is good, just to mix things up. I liked Superior Spider-Man for that reason, it gave Spidey a different flavor for a while. I’m enjoying Spider-Man 2099 for the same reason. I’m also good with Miles being a younger and less confident Spider-Man, just like Peter Parker was back when he got started. Something for everyone, I can’t complain with that.