Miles has to deal with a disappearing dad, and the return of Peter Parker and the Green Goblin, plus choosing to reveal your secret identity to the wrong person, that and the end of the world…twice.
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Miles Morales faces the end of the world twice. It’s time to take a look at Miles Morales’ The Ultimate Spiderman: Ultimate Collection Book Three, straight ahead.
Welcome to the Classy Comics Podcast where we search for the best comics in the universe. From Boise, Idaho here is your host, Adam Graham.
Well, the first thing I should explain is the general idea of the Ultimate Marvel Universe or continuity can be a major challenge when coming to one of the long-established companies. There’s so much of it going on but when you do reboots to shake up and start over on your continuity you often tick off existing fans. Or what if you could, on one hand, maintain your existing continuity but create a brand new continuity to draw new fans to your book, and that was the idea behind the Ultimate Marvel Universe essentially. The Ultimate Universe started off fresh with characters who were like their counterparts in the main Six Sixteen Marvel Universe, but they weren’t exactly the same. They weren’t going to make the exact same choices, and so there was, I think, some opportunities for creativity. There was less continuity that tied people down so they were able to just do different things with different characters. Some of this worked, some of it didn’t.
Sometimes they went too far but we’re focusing on Spiderman, and Spiderman started out as Peter Parker and he was written by Brian Michael Bendis. He continued in that role until Issue 150 when Peter Parker and the Green Goblin died while fighting one another. Miles was a twelve-year-old who actually got spider powers of his own. When he became a little bit older he began to work as Spiderman. His mom was actually killed as a result of a fight with Venom and he hung up his webs for a whole year before coming out of retirement and joining forces with the cloak and dagger of the Ultimate Universe who first appeared in his book, and they turned on a group of evil corporate criminals who had been experimenting on kids. And that’s kind of where we left things.
The book kicks off with the mini-series Cataclysm: Ultimate Comics Spiderman Issues One through Three, a tie in to the Cataclysm event in the Ultimate Universe, and Galactus is coming to town from actually the main Marvel Universe to go ahead and eat the ultimate earth, because after all its promise to not eat earth doesn’t apply to all earths. The book mainly is about Miles doing what he can at street level, and as he senses the end of the world coming he…and this is the most interesting thing in the book – he goes to tell his dad who he is. He reveals his secret identity and his dad freaks out and spurns them, and then when Miles isn’t looking his dad disappears and remains disappeared for quite a time.
The book tie-in ends with Miles going off to perhaps see what he can do to help with the cataclysm which is resolved in another book. This isn’t a horrible mini-series but it’s slow and not a whole lot happens, though certainly Miles’ dad leaving is a big deal. The book then continues with Ultimate Comics Spiderman 200 where they are having a celebration of Peter’s life on the anniversary of his passing, and they go to Aunt May’s house and they share their memories and their thoughts, and there are some beautiful art here. And while this book is about Miles, it’s kind of appropriate – it gives you an idea of how he views his place as a successor to Peter Parker. And I think it’s a nice memorial that sets the stage for Miles’ new ongoing series, Miles Morales: The Ultimate Spiderman Issues One through Seven.
The big thing that happens in this book is that Peter comes back to life and shows up to demand his web shooters back and refuses to elaborate to Miles for quite a while. But then it turns out that Norman Osborne also survived; however, we’re left with Norman as the Green Goblin offering this explanation and that’s not the most reliable of reports. And this essential story does stretch from Issues One through Seven. There’s some question about what’s going on. The art throughout this is really good. There are couple of battles between Miles Morales’ Spiderman and The Green Goblin, and they’re beautifully done. It does also include a team up between Miles and Peter versus the Green Goblin. The Green Goblin in the Ultimate Universe is different from the main one, in that whatever formula he takes actually turns him into this big, hulking goblin monster. It’s different but there’s nothing wrong with it – it’s just the Ultimate Universe’s approach, and it’s well-drawn and the fights look great. The art generally looks great although there are some weird spots where the backgrounds are very sparse without much explanation – though those are pretty rare and far between. One thing I also like about this book is how J. Jonah Jameson has been developed in the Ultimate Universe. He became an ally of Peter Parker in the Ultimate Universe and now he’s also just a bit more cautious about what he does, and stands firm for journalistic standards and making sure we have it right rather than going after superhero for the sake of going after him. This is a much deeper characterization them we see in the main Marvel Universe and I really enjoy it. He actually meets up with the Green Goblin and makes a very stunning choice but one that is believable and shows a lot of courage. His fate implies a death but in many ways that doesn’t matter because of what happens at the end of the book.
I also have to give Bendis a credit for the way he brought cloak and dagger to life in this Twenty-First Century comics. The original characters are just so ’80s they’ve been rarely use since then, but he manages to do them in a way that makes them fit really nicely within this Twenty-First Century Marvel Universe. The actual identity of Peter is something that’s not 100% resolved but it does seem like this is the original Peter Parker. There are, however, a couple of clones of him who are running around who were made by Osborn and are all off on a mission of their own which is revealed in the second half of the book. Peter’s actual ending in this book in many ways seems to actually give him the faith that the Clone Saga imagined for him but that he didn’t actually get and it executes it fairly well. Eight and Nine really focus on the return of Miles’ father. He came back at the end of Issue Seven to talk and he revealed his own backstory and about the time that he was an undercover agent for Shield in the organization of the Kingpin, and how that tied to how he or why he ran away and abandoned his son. It is interesting though it’s kind of a weird thing when a side character hijacks the book. I kind of felt like this should have been called Jefferson Davis: The Ultimate Spider Dad, Issues Eight and Nine. Why he abandoned his son in the midst of a cataclysm when he was needed the most, oh yeah, this doesn’t really cut it, though I can buy, I think, the sort of subtext that he’s been through a lot and seen and he had actually blamed Spiderman for his wife’s death before, and finding out Miles is Spiderman just may have been too much for him emotionally. But the whole, “I used to work for Shield and now you look like you would be really good at it and I wasn’t good at it”…yeah I don’t really buy that.
Issues Ten through Twelve wraps up the book and they find Miles dealing with the consequence of a decision that he made earlier in the book. He had fallen in love with Katie Bishop who he was dating and in order to have a good relationship he decides to reveal he’s Spiderman and she runs off in tears and just can’t seem to handle it. Well it turns out that her family is part of Hydra and so that sets up a situation that puts him and everyone he knows into danger. This is actually a really nice concept because a lot of times we get into these debates about superhero secret identities, and they should tell people and there’s an ever-widening circle that people say they should…you shouldn’t let people know about. And here we get an example where it doesn’t go well because he didn’t fully know this person before revealing the information so it’s a good twist. The story is pretty fast-paced with a lot of action for a Brian Michael Bendis story. There are a few spots of dialogue that are a bit off but I like the ending of the book.
Overall this book really does work. The entire Miles Morales series by Bendis so far really did a lot of things right. There are so many good characters and some really solid moments, and the art is impeccable so you get great action scenes. The book does have its flaws. Bendis can have a slow pace to his comics with a lot of talking. Now if it’s done right it can feel like you’re getting interesting information and getting to know characters so that you can really enjoy the story, which I think is the case throughout most of the book. When it’s done in Cataclysm it feels like you’re having padding and your just extenuating a story out for no particular reason we were offered for what happened with the Ultimate Peter Parker are a bit hard to swallow, and we’re never given a fuller explanation. And given the fact that this book came right before Secret Wars which saw the reboot of the Marvel Universe and the end of the Ultimate Universe totally, we’re never going to actually get an answer to that. Plus there are probably…there are no swear words but there are probably a lot more of the swear dash things than are probably strictly necessary, and there are a few cases where those don’t particularly make sense.
Still I think this was a pretty enjoyable book. My wife was actually up late at night reading this way past bedtime, trying to get through those first seven issues to find out what happened. So, it was pretty engaging for her and also for me. So, despite its problems I’m going to give this a rating of Classy. Now this is probably not the book you would want to start with. There are a couple things that you can take a look at: if you want to get to the very beginning of Miles’ appearance you can check out Miles Morales: Ultimate Spiderman: Ultimate Collection Book One which has the earliest appearances, or if you want a really shorter version with just the first five issues check out Ultimate Comics: Spiderman Volume One: Who is Miles Morales.
Alright, well that’s all for today. If you do have a comment email to me firstname.lastname@example.org; follow me on Twitter @ClassyComicsGuy and check out my website classycomicsguy.com. From Boise, Idaho this is your host, Adam Graham, signing off.