I will start by saying that I read all of the series (28 issues) in two days. That should give you some idea of how I felt about this series. To me it was unputdownable! I just had to keep reading.
Not that this review will talk about things that has happened in the Ultimate Marvel universe a few years back. It will not spoil the story of this comic however.
I better start by saying that I read this sparked by a discussion on twitter and with my boyfriend. Could you have a black Spiderman. I argued that there was nothing in the original story of Peter Parker that really said that you couldn’t change his skin tone. But I have to say that this is way better. Marvel’s Ultimate universe is know for making drastic changes and sticking to them. They have used this to up the ante quite a bit on some of the long running series. In 2011 Peter Parker was killed defending New York City (this is hardly a spoiler by now. Parallel to this, in the timeline, Miles Morales’ story begins.
The first few issues tells his origin story and after that he starts having his own adventures. Do not expect him in costume in the very first issue. He will not be.
Lets talk about who Miles is because that is really what makes this comic one to pick up, other than the fabulous writing and the beautiful art, especially Sara Pichelli’s in the first issues. Miles is only thirteen years old, which is important, both is parents are alive and well – though working too much (but really who isn’t). He is of mixed descent – his mother is latino and his father is african-american. He seems to be a quite but otherwise quite an average guy. He is a young teenager, not quite starting to look at girls yet. Still having toys in his room, a bit bookish and seems like a general nice guy. And he got the most wonderful friend Ganke Lee (asian-american) who is a massive geek.
They have the most wonderful friendship that seems so real to me. At least it reminds me so much of my friendships at that age. You hang out at each others apartments all the time. You spend all your time together. You have next to no secrets from each other – you share even the bad stuff. All your angst and problems. And you help each other out. If you are mad at each other, it is like the whole world is ending. Ganke share Miles’ adventures without becoming a sidekick. He helps Miles figure things out, but he never turns into Robin.
One of the wonderful things about this comic is not once is there made fun of Ganke’s geekiness. Sometimes he geeks out quite a bit, but that is never the butt of any jokes. Thank you for that Marvel. That means a lot to me.
The quite scenes are wonderful, but so are the action scenes. Miles is witty and cracking jokes – doing one liners in classic Spiderman style – while fighting the villains. And what villains. We are getting a string of quite classic villains as well as some that as far as I know are brand new.
Unlike Peter who got quite a supportive family when it comes to his running around fighting crime, Miles’ father is passionately anti-superhero/mutant . Miles’ of course struggles with this a lot. Should he try to be a superhero. Is it in bad taste to put on the spider costume. Is he putting his dear ones in danger doing this? He hates sneaking around. He hates all the lying. Those are common themes throughout the comic.
The story is very much set in modern day New York with cell phones, ipads, youtube – you name it. It is also very much a part of the broader Ultimate story arches – which does make it feel like it is part of a bigger world.
And today I got the best news! The last of this run came out in the fall, and now Marvel is putting out a new #1 with Miles as Spiderman! It is still written by Brian Michael Bendis, which I am really happy about. It is going to be so good. The blurb:
MILES is back in action with a new status quo and a new outlook on life! A BIG BIG BIG villain from PETER PARKER’s past is alive and well and about to turn New York upside down!
Published: 14 September 2011 Marvel
Read: April 30 – 1 May 2014
Format: Comic, e-comic
The author: Male, white, USA
The protagonist: Miles Morales, male, PoC (african/latino american), superhuman, high school student.
Setting: New York