With the origin story now definitively told, the last couple of issues of “Ultimate Comics Spider-Man” have seen Miles Morales finally stepping out of the shadows and into his own adventures. It’s tentative but issues like this are helpful in establishing the tone and template for the new Spider-Man.
While Miles’ origin is told on its most basic level, it’s clear Brian Michael Bendis is planning on exploring Miles’ transformation into a super-hero in more specific detail than even the original “Ultimate Spider-Man” run did. Although Miles throws himself into his new role, he’s still learning about himself and his powers (and, in a nice little touch, wondering why he doesn’t spin webs) in much the same way as the audience. The opening scene harkens back to the original Spider-Man movie in a very obvious way, suggesting Bendis intends to cherry-pick the best of all Spider-Man origins over the years to great effect.
It’s apparent the writer is resisting the temptation to make every aspect of Miles’ life analogous to Peter Parker’s, retaining the Spider-Man formula without making the character look like a poor photocopy. While “Ultimate Spider-Man” #7 makes it clear Miles’ father is a semi-J. Jonah Jameson opposed to vigilantes and convinced Spider-Man is a menace, he’s also an Aunt May stand-in for his role as a parental figure. Meanwhile, Miles’ mother is openly enthusiastic about the new Spider-Man’s appearance and there’s no romantic interest anywhere near the setup yet. Miles might be the new Spider-Man, but his world is very much his own.
Pitting Morales against Omega Red is an odd choice and probably the weakest part of the story. Ultimate Omega Red has very little personality and doesn’t even retain the distinctive visuals of the Marvel Universe incarnation. As a generic punching bag, he serves a purpose but it’s hard to explain why he’s being used instead of anyone else. The Prowler proves a far more charismatic and thematically on-message villain, so it’s a shame he isn’t more prevalent — although the cliffhanger does promise big things for the character.
The art by Chris Samnee is vastly different to Sara Pichelli’s opening issues but retains the key elements: a youthful energy and utterly gorgeous looking pages. Justin Ponsor’s coloring is a huge part of the book’s visual appeal as well. It’s always good to see a creative team adding up to more than the sum of its parts. Ponsor’s perfectly-judged colors and Samnee’s spacious pencils prove the perfect complement to one another.
Aside from the weak choice of villain, there’s nothing to complain about here. It started off well but seven issues in, “Ultimate Comics Spider-Man” is strong as ever — as enjoyable as it is brilliantly-crafted and an undisputable classic in the making.