Thursday, September 15, 2011

Ultimate Spider-Man #1

After all the hubbub about the new Ultimate Spider-Man, the first issue finally arrives so we can actually start judging it based on more than feverish speculation.

So my reaction after reading the first issue is that it's... OK.

Sorry to be tepid, but we don't really get much to go on with this issue. In fact, it feels just like the first issue of the original Ultimate Spider-Man, with writer Brian Bendis once again working a very decompressed story.

What Stan Lee and Steve Ditko did in 15 pages, Bendis and (then) artist Mark Bagley took six issues to cover - and this new series by Bendis and artist Sara Pichelli is crashing along at the same methodical pace.

Here's what we get in this issue: a little background on the first Spidey's origin, and we meet Miles Morales, a young man who is taking part in a lottery to get into a charter school (somewhat against his wishes).

There's really very little (so far) to differentiate him from Peter Parker. He's a smart young man who talks in a snappy, clever way (like so many Bendis characters), and then a strange accident leaves him gifted with special abilities. Sound familiar?

There are differences, thankfully. Both of his parents are alive, his father is African-American and his mother is Hispanic. He seems like a thoughtful young man, but we learn almost nothing about him here.

No doubt future issues will fill in the blanks, but it looks like the readers are going to have to be patient, because the story is spooling out very slowly - at least so far.

The art is quite good, and Pichelli tells a strong story despite the almost complete lack of any action scenes - we see a lot of real-world situations, and the characters are distinct, alive and expressive. I'm looking forward to seeing more of her artwork.

Am I hooked on this series, am I dying to see the next issue? Not really, although I am interested enough to keep reading for now.

I'm confident Bendis will tell a good story, but I'm hoping to see some evidence soon that this series will move in new and different directions.

Grade: B+



Dom said...

Great review as always, Chuck. Did you think about any of the stuff I'm talking about in this post about the numbered 42nd spider?

Chuck said...

Dom, the thought never occurred to me (I'm ashamed to admit - I usually pick up on such things). I really enjoyed your analysis of #42, and I do think the Adams reference is spot on.