You've seen the internet bustle and debate over the merits of making the new Ultimate Spidey someone not named Peter Parker. You've also probably had time to think about this yourself and form your own opinion: good, bad, or indifferent. What you may not have done, though, is actually given this book a chance. Set aside your expectations for this book and just let it surprise you, you know like comics books used to do and are supposed to do.
That's what I decided to do, and I'm darn thankful for it.
I reviewed the first appearance of Miles in "Ultimate Fallout," and was pleasantly surprised enough (due to convincing myself to unclench prior to reading it) to make a note to check back with this book once it started. Here it is, two issues deep, and Brian Michael Bendis fills the issue with Miles Morales - a grade schooler - trying to grasp what has happened to him and what he's become. Some of the best work that Bendis delivers is the conversations that real people have and this book has a couple of those conversations.
Through Miles' desperation we meet his best friend, Ganke, who serves as Miles' confidant and advisor. He also wears a spiffy (I'd buy one) Frog-Man shirt. Ganke helps Miles figure some things out, but he also serves as a sounding board for Miles, giving Bendis a foil to write the star character against. Following the conversation with Ganke, Miles has a heart-to-heart with his father who is none too happy with Miles' choices in the previous issue. The two characters uncover ground that Miles' dad wasn't ready to cover, but in doing so, Bendis writes one of the most believably human father-son conversations I've ever seen in comics.
I just dread what's going to happen from here. After all, Spider-Man has never been a very lucky superhero in his personal life. If Miles is inheriting the legacy of the webhead, he's most likely inheriting a lifetime of heartbreak too. For now, Bendis spares Miles (and the reader) and chooses to focus on the wonderful and fantastic new world of the strange powers Miles has acquired.
Sara Pichelli's artwork is every bit as clean, crisp, and brilliant here as it was in Miles' debut. Pichelli makes the characters breathe. She moves them through a very real New York City. Most importantly, she fills them with emotion and tells the story through their expressions. Pichelli's detailed pages are majestic and wonderful. I definitely see myself flipping through this book again and again, and each time I would not be at all surprised to catch some new detail, some hidden bit of fun, some wink or nod. Pichelli is having a great time drawing this book - at least according to the vivaciousness of the art on the page.
I've never been the biggest fan of the Ultimate line, mostly because I couldn't justify spending money on something that wasn't the "main" universe, but this book delivers such a fun story that I can't help but want to read more. This Ultimate universe gives the creators a chance to try more unorthodox stories, to do things they wouldn't - or maybe even can't - do in the main series. In this case, the end result is a fun story with beautiful art. In other words, it's a book worth looking into. Put your predispositions aside and give it a try.