Yet again, we have a sub-story in the Cataclysm storyline, this time dealing with Spider-Man and his associates. Like the X-Men story, it falls between issues 3 and 4 of Cataclysm: The Ultimates’ Last Stand.
It features the return of Miles Morales from his year-long hiatus, some major events in the lives of Bombshell, Cloak and Dagger and Spider-Woman and tons of street-level destruction. What could be better?
But is it good? You’ll have to read on to see.
We start off with Spider-Woman wondering if S.H.I.E.L.D. is going to throw her off the team because she went off the reservation with Spider-Man, Cloak and Dagger and took down Roxxon’s corrupt leadership and their illegal genetic manipulations that created, among others, Spider-Woman herself. It is a cute bit, with Thor shoveling food in his face the whole time, but nobody really cared about punishing her for ultimately doing the right thing, they have bigger fish to fry. In fact, the real theme of this mini-series seems to be redemption in the face of devastation. We see Lana Baumgartner, who is forbidden by law from using her super powers as Bombshell until she turns 18, pushing herself to save people and be a hero for the first time. We experience Dagger’s frustration as she learns that her family has abandoned her and she and Cloak are truly alone, but they can make the choice to be heroes. Then we get Miles Morales, who previous to this took a year off from his role of Spider-Man to mourn his mother’s death, but when he comes back, just in time for Galactus to menace the planet, he finds that the authorities have embraced him and he’s now a hero to the men in blue. What this story really shows us is the heroes who pull together to save as many people as they can when the world is quite literally ending. Galactus remains largely a background character, with the exception of one truly idiotic move by Cloak and Dagger when they try to take him down with a close-up assault and barely escape with their lives. That’s a good thing, this is a story of heroism and discovering that being a hero is not without it’s risks. Miles tries to save his father and reveals who he is to his superhero-hating dad and, as so many other things do in this mini-series, it goes badly.
While I will say I liked this mini more than the one with the X-Men, this one also smacks of being a cash-grab by Marvel. Most of the story was lower-level heroes running around trying to save people while the big boys in the Ultimates are dealing with Galactus. That’s a valid story to tell, far too often in the comics, you have little heroes with little power going up against enemies that would swat them like a bug, it’s nice not only to see them doing things that are power-appropriate, but not to see them complain about it. They accept their roles and perform with admirable skill. That’s a good thing. Spider-Man or Cloak and Dagger or Bombshell really have no chance in hell against something like Galactus.
The art is gorgeous, as we’d expect from David Marquez and the writing from Brian Michael Bendis is… well, what you’d expect from Brian Michael Bendis. There is some great dialogue, lots of action, but an unfortunate reliance on talking head shots to get some exposition out. Still, it doesn’t get in the way and I’m much happier with the characters here than I was in the X-Men mini.
We have learned that there’s a new book coming out in April called Miles Morales: Ultimate Spider-Man and even though we’re pretty sure he’s moving to the 616 universe, it’s nice to see something new and hopefully different following the downfall of the Ultimate Universe. Unlike the X-Men book, I’d recommend this, there is enough there, enough action, enough characterization, enough interesting and important revelations, to make it worth the cost.