Is the all new Ultimate Spider-Man worth reading?
The Ultimate Spider-Man was killing Peter Parker and replacing him with Miles Moralis, a boy who was half black and half Hispanic. This was the news that shocked hardcore and casual fans of Spider-Man in August, 2011. Everyone had an opinion on the revamp. But were the stories any good? Now that the comic has gone up to issue six, I believe there is a big enough sample size to give an accurate opinion.
First off, it’s important to understand that this all happens in the Ultimate Universe of Marvel. In the Ultimate line of comics anything can go. Storylines for established characters are different. Characters die and stay dead. Continuity for Spider-Man’s decades of stories can be found in other titles. Peter Parker still lives in all the other Spider-Man titles. Miles Moralis is exclusive to the Ultimate Spider-Man.
Below is a summary of what has happened, which contains some spoilers, but is vague enough not to ruin anything. If you’re planning on reading the issues, you may want to skip to the next four paragraphs to where I give my opinion on the series. Otherwise, you’ve been warned.
The story of Miles begins with him in a lottery drawing for a charter school. He wins, but seems to feel guilty when he sees all the kids who didn’t win. Unfortunately for Miles he’s been written with Peter’s overwhelming feelings of guilt.
Shortly after Miles is bitten by a genetically altered spider that gives several powers that resembles the previous Spider-Man (sticking to walls, spider-sense), and several that are different (camouflaging to environment, an ability to stun). He learns that his uncle is a thief. He also learns that his father was one as well, but had changed his ways before Miles was born.
Most important to the story spun so far, he saw Peter Parker die. He felt guilt that he did nothing to try help Peter from his fate (he had his powers at this point). In other words, he has learned that with great power, comes great responsibility. But he learned it in a way that connects him to the previous characters in the Ultimate Spider-Man.
Miles has a conversation with his father that reveals that he hates mutants (giving him a reason for a secret identity). So he puts on a Halloween costume of Spider-Man and starts going out at night. This leads to an encounter with SHIELD. They wind up giving him with his new black and red costume after a fight with a super villain.
My father was a huge Spider-Man fan, and raised me to be one as well. So he is a character I have close to my heart. Brian Michael Bendis’s Ultimate Spider-Man over the last eleven years has been the best written stories of all the Spider-Man books over the last fifty years. The stories he’s told with Miles Moralis have lead me to believe that this run is the best writing Bendis has done. He has found a way to incorporate the mythos of Spider-Man without it feeling forced.
I want to end with a look at the bigger picture. This is a character that’s of mixed heritage. These stories haven’t been told in way that panders to minorities, or comes off as overly PC. He is who is. I think that children growing up today should have A-list comic book characters that resemble the way the world looks. It’s nice that Marvel has provided that, but done it in a way that’s not exploitive. I only hope that the people who have been quick to judge what this character is actually pick up an issue to find out.