Chain Reactions | <i>Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #1</i>

Last Wednesday a first issue relaunched an entirely new take on a classic character, and it didn't have a DC Comics logo. Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #1, by Brian Michael Bendis, Sarah Pichelli and Justin Ponsor may not have been the first appearance of Miles Morales, but it did give us a glimpse into his world and what makes him tick.

Since Morales' new role as the web-slinger in the Ultimate Universe was announced, he's been met with attention and controversy both inside and outside the comic world. But now that his comic has actually come out, what are people saying about it? Here’s just a sampling of what people are saying about Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #1:

James Hunt, Comic Book Resources: "In a month when readers have been prompted to think about the craft of the first issue (courtesy of DC Comics) "Ultimate Comics Spider-Man" #1 makes it look easy, striking a strong balance between showing what readers need to know and teasing what might come later. Most importantly, what the issue lacks in costumed antics, it makes up for with character. It's only the second time we've seen Miles Morales on the page, but already we're starting to see how his background and outlook differ from Peter Parker's. It suggests that we're going to see a Spider-Man quite different than the one we're used to -- but at the same time, it's still one who you'll want to read about next issue. A very conventional start to the series, but in the Ultimate line in particular, that's exactly what it should be."

Charles Webb, MTV Geek: "With Miles, we get a new Spider-Man who won't feel too off-model from Peter Parker--at least in terms of being, at his core, a decent kid with a good heart. We see this in a bit ripped straight from the controversial documentary Waiting for Superman as Miles' heart breaks a little for the kids who won't have a chance to make it into the good charter school. With out too much nudging, we know Miles and his family are struggling--poor, if you want to put a fine point on it--and that Miles has a good head on his shoulders. The script overplays its hand a little bit during a speech from Miles' shady Uncle Aaron that kind of goes out of its way to be explicit about how bad off things are in their neighborhood and how everyone wants something better for the kid."

Paul Montgomery, iFanboy: "As expected, Sara Pichelli’s art is lush and vibrant, and she excels at rendering everyone from a quiet young Miles to his rapscallion Uncle Aaron and the ruthless Norman Osborn. She does a wonderful job dressing a scene and dressing her characters, from the fashion to the fit. Uncle Aaron is a highlight, introduced in a jaunty trilby, track jacket and house slippers. So much of this character is masterfully established not just by his wardrobe and dialogue, but in the way he hold himself and peers suspiciously down hall ways. Again, Pichelli doesn’t have opportunity to show off her Spider-Man action visuals here, but the anticipation is only building."

Dean Threadgold, WhatCulture!: "However, as a first issue this book is a slight letdown. Like a lot of Bendis’ work, this is decompressed storytelling in its purest form, meaning we don’t get much other than a quick intro to the character. Those hoping to see Miles swinging from the rooftops beating up bad guys will be disappointed. While this methodical pacing helps Bendis generate empathy for the new cast- he is building a new world from the ground up, after all- it does leave the reader with the impression that very little happened. Compared to this, DC’s Justice League # 1 was jam packed full of plot. By the time I reached the last page I was honestly surprised that there wasn’t more story and, if I’m honest, very disappointed that the book ended where it did. However, reaching the end of an issue and being desperate to know what happens next can hardly be considered a bad thing, though it would be a shame if this decompressed style ends up hampering the overall effectiveness of the narrative. Though let’s be honest- if anyone can pull of long-form storytelling then it’s Bendis, and I for one am excited to see where this character goes."

Joseph Gauthier, 10 Worlds Studio: "I ran into the problem I always have with stories trying too hard to be non-stereotypical, they’re stereotypical. If the NAACP announced to combat the stereotype 'all black people eat watermelon' African Americans are now eating mango, overtime, the stereotype would then become 'all black people eat mango'”

"It was the same thing I saw going to private Catholic high school; the more parents sent their bad kids there, thinking it would change them, the worse the school became. While the public school, by comparison, became less unruly and produced better students. Fast forward twenty years, the 'prestigious high school' is in the shitter while the public schools are winning awards.

"I keep seeing this scenario play out and I see it again here. The more you try to diversify, the more you end becoming 'One of Us.'”

David Brothers, ComicsAlliance: "A lot was made of Marvel's new black Spider-Man by everyone who heard about the character, whether they were for or against the idea. I was pretty pleased to see that the issue of Miles's race got just the amount of attention it needed in this issue: none. Setting aside the difficulty in explaining the complicated racial and ethnic overlap and intersection between blacks and Latinos -- a subject that is probably too complicated for cape comics -- Miles and his family are presented as just like any other family in comics. He doesn't fight roving bands of racists, the Klan, or talk about how he's from the hood. He's got a family, his parents want his life to be better than theirs, and they love him very much. He's normal, and that's just as it should be.

"Despite my qualms about the length and price point, this first issue hooked me. Miles Morales isn't Peter Parker, his status quo isn't Peter Parker's, and his powers have just enough of a twist (hinted at early in the story) that they aren't exactly Peter's either. I wanted Bendis to impress me with this issue, and he did. This is good comics, and the start of something cool."

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