Brian Michael Bendis’ “Ultimate Comics Spider-Man” has been such an exceptional example of building a new young superhero correctly, I seem to have forgotten what universe Miles Morales lives in. In “Ultimate Comics Spider-Man” #15, those worlds officially come crashing together and unfortunately, the book feels a bit disjointed and puzzling as a result.
While I do appreciate that Brian Michael Bendis is trying to tie Miles’ world more tightly to the war and chaos that’s actually supposed to be going on in the Ultimate Universe, I have to admit, it still really doesn’t feel like it’s working. It’s hard for me to even connect Miles’ life with other Ultimate books I’m reading and while I’ve immensely enjoyed the creation of Miles as a young superhero, it’s hard to believe Miles lives in the same universe as the Ultimate X-Men. Perhaps that’s actually a nice comment they’re trying to make, considering how differently people live, even people living in the same city. The difference between being mutant and human, the difference between being a superhero and a civilian, the difference between having money and not having money, etc. However, for a fictional universe, the lack of connection between these worlds does feel like a mistake and missed opportunity, rather than a deliberate parallel.
David Marquez has a fantastic style for this book. It’s clean and simple, but precise and detailed when and where it needs to be. Marquez continues to have a fantastic take on Miles, and one of the things that comes through so beautifully is how young he is. Since it’s a major plot point, it’s great to see reflected visually.
While on the whole there is great character acting and variety, Marquez’s style does not quite connect for the scene where Maria Hill is questioning Miles. The layout is a compelling series of alternating close ups on both Maria and Miles’ eyes, dancing back and forth. But there’s no real expression in those eyes. They’re lovely but flat, and without Bendis’ words, it would be impossible to discern what meaning lies behind those eyes. Few comic book artists are capable of such nuance and so it’s a lot to ask, but having seen Phil Noto do exactly this kind of superior and subtle work in the last year on “Wolverine and Jubilee” and “X-23”, this did fall flat in comparison.
“Ultimate Comics Spider-Man” has not had a bad issue in the bunch, but as Bendis syncs Miles’ world more completely with the rest of the Ultimate Universe, some holes are showing through. We’ve spent so much time with character-building over the last fifteen issues that I think we’ve missed a bit of world building. I’m sure the book (and Bendis) can easily overcome this, but I suspect a bit of growing pains as we get Miles readers fully acclimated to what’s really been going on in the Marvel Ultimate Universe.