It’s fair to say “Spider-Man #4” by Brian Michael Bendis and Sara Pichelli is the issue most readers have been waiting for since the crossover began Marvel Universe Peter Parker meets the friends and family of his Ultimate counterpart.
Bendis handles the meeting with characteristic ease. These are characters he’s been writing since their creation (or rather, re-creation) over a decade ago, so there’s not a misstep to be found in their depictions and reactions. Gwen’s questions about the “other” Gwen are answered in the kindest way possible, while Aunt May and Mary Jane get their own faultless reactions to the strange and unexpected appearance of an adult Peter.
Although Bendis’ writing is already spot-on, Pichelli’s artwork makes it even better than it is, imbuing it with all the necessary exuberance, humanity, nuance and then some. It’s a comic where the dialogue and visuals combine into something far greater than the sum of their parts — exactly what all the best issues should do.
Even though the issue is almost entirely downtime, it’s by far the most enjoyable of the miniseries thus far. The crossover as a whole has been surprisingly slow-paced and far less epic than one might have expected with no particularly dire threat in the picture (certainly nothing that feels as though it might require two Spider-Men to deal with) — but it’s also a fan-pleasing affair, heavy on characterization and conversations that, in some cases, fans have waited over a decade to read.
The problem, if there is one, is that there’s absolutely no urgency to anything that’s happening. Despite Mysterio’s apparent threat, Peter and Miles spend the best part of what appears to be an entire day sitting around and chatting. As enjoyable as every scene is, it’s hard not to feel that the one issue still to come is going to have a massive uphill climb in terms of knitting the plot into a satisfying conclusion.
However, it’s clear “Spider-Men” will go down in comics history as a perennial favorite. Indeed, it’s already hard not to root for a sequel where Miles gets to return the favor and visit Peter in the mainstream Marvel Universe. Maybe it’ll happen, maybe not, but if it’s half as much fun as this series, it’d be justified. Let’s just hope we don’t have to wait another 10 years for it.