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Comicscape: Spider-Men

The Adventures of Pete and Miles

By Joel Rickenbach     June 20, 2012
Source: Mania.com

Why is it every time I go to write a Comicscape column recently it always involves some sort of controversy or mixed feelings? It's partially my fault, after all, I'm the one picking the subject matter, but keeping your finger on the four-color pulse of the comic world sure does court some drama. This week is no different, although it's not as hot button of a topic as Before Watchmen or gay marriage (Astonishing X-Men #51 out today!), but it is something fans have been a bit skeptical about.
 
At Comic Con circa 2005, Then Marvel Editor-In-Chief, Joe Quesada was asked by Newsarama if there would ever be a crossover between the “Regular universe” and the Ultimate universe. Quesada, apparently prepared for such fan boy questions, responded that he would “rather close down one universe than have them cross over because it meant they were officially out of ideas." When Spider-Men was announced a few months back, the internet had a field day proclaiming Marvel was officially out of ideas. However, Quesada is no longer EIC, and the motivations behind the crossover seem to be far more than fan service. At least, I hope they are…
 
Once we get past the fact that original universe Peter Parker will be meeting up with Ultimate universe Miles Morales, the next question that comes to mind is- too soon? Sure, Peter Parker has been kicking around since, well, Stan Lee was a strapping young lad, but Miles Morales is barely 10 issues into his existence. When you approach a story like this it’s usually expected that these two versions of the same hero will eventually have the time to swap war stories and bond “Wait, the Prowler is your uncle? Hilarious!” But I feel that Brian Michael Bendis is going for a different kind of story, and I think he’s on to something.
 

Spider-Man, simply put, is the soul of the Marvel universe. For better or for worse he’ll always be there, slinging webs and cracking jokes. Despite any storylines that change things for a brief amount of time, Spider-Man will also always be hard luck Peter Parker. We’ll always identify with him more than any other character because he’s the most human, the most like us. I do believe that Miles Morales is here to stay, he is a product of the world we live in today, and by nature is the new soul of the Marvel U, Ultimate or otherwise. He’s not going to replace, just coexist, and who better to show him the ropes than the original web head? One of the best aspects of the Miles Morales Ultimate Spidey, is his reverence of the departed Ultimate Peter Parker. Ultimate Pete didn’t make it as far as regular Pete, but he left his mark on the world, and certainly on young Miles Morales. So, instead of Miles communing with Ultimate Peter’s ghost, or Marvel finding some lame way to briefly bring him back, Miles will get the full-on web spinning experience from a spider of a different color. One who has seen and done everything, one who didn’t go out in a tragic blaze of heroics, but one who has dealt with the great power and responsibility all the way through to his adult life. Speaking of “With great power comes great responsibility”, as a life long Spider-Man reader, I have to admit to being a bit worn out on that phrase. How cool would it be if Peter Parker gave Miles Morales a new mantra? One that is backed up by a life of living by the original? That also speaks to my other wish for this series- I want it to count. We get far too many crossovers and events that end with “Well that was fun, now back to business” (see just about every tie-in book for DC’s Night of the Owls). I want Peter to leave a lasting impression on Miles, and vice versa. Miles using his experience with Peter as a point of inspiration would be fascinating, and Peter seeing a fresh take on what he does and who he is in Miles would be a great way to inject some life into the regular Spider-Man books. Yes, Amazing Spider-Man has been pretty good as of late, but I can’t help but feel that the status quo is just a reshuffled deck. And, yes, I realize just about everything I wrote above is pretty much a pipe dream. C’est la vie.

 

What about the book itself? Well, we're only one issue in, and it just hit shelves last week, but that's part of the problem. I was hoping that we would be past the "it's early" phase in the first issue. Some spoilers ahead- The biggest problem is it takes the entire first issue for Peter and Miles to meet, and that's only on a "To be continued" splash page. We have to wait at least another month to get to the stuff we really want to read. Why not make the first issue double sized? That way we can get past the set up, and into the meat of the story. As it stands it's just a big tease, and as a single issue can't really stand on its own. I know that's not uncommon these days, but I can't help but think back to last week's column about Action Comics #775, and how much story that issue packed into just 23 pages. There is an interesting bit of  history here- outside of being part of the ensemble cast of various Avengers books, this is the first time Bendis has written the regular universe Spider-Man. There's some solid storytelling on display here, however it feels a bit too "business as usual", as we have our hands held pretty tightly throughout. You almost get the feeling Spidey is encountering Mysterio for only the second time or so, instead of the villain-weary hero we know him to be. Credit does have to go to Sara Pichelli's art, her skylines and web-slinging are second to none, and her visual interpretation of Bendis' action is spot on. Overall this is a very engaging idea, and deserves to be handled with the utmost of care. The first issue is decent, but everything we're hoping to see is yet to come, so whether this book ultimately succeeds or fails remains a question, but a question to which I am only too happy to find an answer.


 
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Joel Rickenbach is a curator of cult cinema at the Colonial Theatre in Phoenixville, PA, and can be heard every week talking film, TV and other geekery on the You’ve got GEEK podcast. Follow him onTwitter and hilarity will no doubt ensue.

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

Showing items 1 - 10 of 29
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Mossy1221 6/20/2012 3:55:29 AM

A half black, half hispanic Spiderman.  Now that is two birds with one stone.  

Mossy1221 6/20/2012 3:56:34 AM

 I never read Ultimate version anyway. 

jedibanner 6/20/2012 6:10:41 AM

I've quit the Ultimate Universe because I felt there was too many new books coming out, just like the regular universe. I felt they were becoming the large Marvel U instead of being a nice small universe.

It's interesting to finally have the Spider Man meet and at least it's done by Bendis so, it will be as good as it can be.

 

What's this, a gay marriage in comics???????????? WHAT??????????????

joeybaloney 6/20/2012 6:36:46 AM

I had stopped reading all Marvel Comics after the first issue of Brand New Day and only started picking up Ultimate Spider-man just before that Parker was killed then went on to pick up Ultimate Comics Spider-man once that started. It’s a great book and Miles is a great character. I went back and forth on whether to get this or not cuz A) gimmick & B) the “regular” Peter Parker hasn’t been the real Peter Parker for several years now. I’m glad I did. I enjoyed Bendis’ take on regular Spider-man and I was feeling nostalgic over a little Old School (ish) Spidey. I agree it was too short and a double-sized debut definitely seems like it was in order for something like this. It would have been nice to at least see Marvel U Spidey’s set up juxtaposed with Ultimate U Spidey’s.I’m eagerly looking forward to more. Who knows, maybe this can convince me to start picking up Amazing again.

And to hell with Quesada. The fact that he didn’t have the balls to divorce Peter & MJ and went instead with that Mephisto horse hockey (against the protestations of just about everyone involved with the comic back then) was demonstration enough of who was officially out of ideas. If anyone was destined to be a divorced super-hero it was Peter Parker.

jedibanner 6/20/2012 6:50:58 AM

jey, I can fully understand about the whole Quesada BND fiasco, but it's not all marvel that was badly handled as bad as BND.

I still like Marvel's other books but have stopped buying the regula Amazing Spider-Man since the BND crap.

I never will buy ASM until they just reboot that event but it will never happen so, I get my SM fix from the Avengers.

 

silversurfer 6/20/2012 7:00:02 AM

So I'm making the slow and painful change over from print to digital...what's good to catch up on? I think I may add this to my collection. Since this is a pretty good page with varied opinions...what's good?

jedibanner 6/20/2012 8:00:59 AM

traitor silversurfer...going digital...

Roqueja 6/20/2012 8:01:15 AM

I would recommend Thunderbolts right now, as the Dark Avengers storyline is a great jump on point, and the story has great promise.  some improvement could be done in the artwork, but doesn't detract from the gritty, seedy side of the Marvel U.

The artwork on The Incredible Hulk sucks.  I hate it. Can't stand it.  I've been collecting this title for 30 plus years, and this is the worst.  The covers are stunning, the writing while not the best is enough to play on the Banner/Hulk dynamic to keep interest.  I didn't, however, like the way they did the death of Banner one issue and have him back in the next just to change the status quo.  Have some stronger ramifications for such a large storyline.

The new Marvel Zombies is lackluster although with some interesting characters.  Howard the Duck does not do it for me here.

Deadpool no longer has his regenerating powers in a great story arc.

Red Hulk is better than it has any reason to be.  I'm glad that I stuck through the slower stories with this one.

Avengers and New Avengers are both still at the top of their game with the A vs X thing going on.  It's a little confusing and muddled, but focused enough on the issue to issue story that you don't feel completely lost if you aren't collecting all of the tie ins.

MrJawbreakingEquilibrium 6/20/2012 8:09:04 AM

Ultimate Spiderman is awesome. I love Miles Morales I think he's awesome and I guarantee we're going to see a sea change from him sooner than later maybe now that he gets to meet the 616 Peter Parker. 

SPOILERS

 I also like that Miles uncle is the polar opposite of Uncle Ben and a really bad man trying to get him to do bad things. Seeing how that's going to evolve should be interesting. Also the fact that his dad is like Jameson and early Aunt May combined is a nice twist. Can't wait for more.

It's funny with comics nowadadays. The only two SUPERHERO characters I care about are Batman and Spiderman (either version of). The other superheroes don't compare and I'm only interested in them when they crossover with the former two. Though I liked Bendis run of Daredevil and Brubaker's run of Captain America (a character I used to hate as much as I hate Superman). Though with Superman I'm digging his Earth One books. Can't wait for Batman Earth One to come out.

Kensai331 6/20/2012 8:23:44 AM

 I dig Miles Morales but I wish they would have made him an original character in the 616 universe. Peter Parker IS Spider-Man! No need for multiple versions of the same super hero!

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