The math leading up to “Ultimate Comics Spider-Man” #200 is rather creative, as is the story inside this anniversary comic book from writer Brian Michael Bendis and a handful of artists including Dave Marquez, David Lafuente, Sara Pichelli, Mark Brooks, Mark Bagley and Andrew Hennessy. You can check the math for yourself in the cover gallery filling the last few pages of this issue. Extra-sized milestone issues usually include cinematic slugfests, mind-blowing reveals or satisfying conclusions, but “Ultimate Comics Spider-Man” #200 doesn’t include any of those. Bendis and crew choose to focus on the man in this title and the influence one person can have on those closest to him.
Bendis makes an inspired decision to avoid putting Miles Morales in costume, choosing instead to focus on friends coming together to remember Peter Parker. At no point does anyone mourn Spider-Man, but rather, thanks to Bendis, they choose to remember their fallen friend and share their “What If…?” scenarios. That’s not to say Miles Morales has no place in “Ultimate Comics Spider-Man” #200. Bendis gives him plenty of panel time and goes to considerable lengths to integrate the current Ultimate Universe Spider-Man into the legacy of Peter Parker. The crux of the story focuses on what people think of Peter Parker and how he has woven the disparate lives of so many so tightly together.
The bulk of “Ultimate Comics Spider-Man” occurs at May Parker’s house in Queens, with the characters gathering for a celebration of Peter Parker’s life. Dave Marquez handles most of the art in the thirty-page story, and does a splendid job of defining the characters and the space. Colorist Justin Ponsor does add temperature and texture to the tale and Cory Petit artfully weaves the lettering through, but this comic would not look anywhere near as good with Marquez not present. Other artists would flounder at the concept of so many secret identities and unmasked characters gathering in one superhero comic, but Marquez makes everyone distinct from head to toe and wardrobe in between. He does receive an assist on the artistic work as Mark Bagley with Andrew Hennessy, Mark Brooks, Sara Pichelli and David Lafuente contribute spreads covering the reminiscences of Peter’s friends and family. Bagley and Hennessy tackle suppositions from Aunt May as well as those from Mary Jane. Mark Brooks’ work for Gwen Stacy’s piece is gorgeous and absolutely packed with stunning imagery. Sara Pichelli’s is filled with the fun an Ultimate Miles/Ultimate Peter team-up might provide and David Lafuente’s two pages of Kitty Pryde’s perspective are appropriately heartbreaking.
“Ultimate Comics Spider-Man” #200 leaves the world of Miles Morales more integrated into the legacy of Peter Parker than ever before, despite the complete lack of action and adventure. Bendis and crew pour emotions into this comic book and give readers plenty of hope for the future while offering a wonderful opportunity for closure. A bicentennial issue might be an odd spot for new readers to hop on, but with “Ultimate Comics Spider-Man” #200, there is little worry about readers being lost. This is a nice, self-contained, timeless tale that celebrates Peter Parker, Miles Morales, Brian Bendis and his cohorts along the journey throughout the legend of the Ultimate Universe’s greatest hero.