One of the greatest design aspects of Spider-Man’s full body costume has always been the fact that anyone could be inside that mask. No matter the race, color or creed Spider-Man could be any one of us. For fifty years Spider-Man has been Peter Parker a Caucasian kid from Queens but after he was killed, the mantle and the legend of Spider-Man was passed on to Miles Morales a half-African American, half Latino teenager from Brooklyn.
Miles Morales made his debut in the pages of Marvel Comic’s Ultimate Comics Spider-Man series by Brian Michael Bendis and Sara Pichelli. Marvel has collected the first five issues of this series in the Ultimate Comics Spider-Man by Brian Michael Bendis Vol. 1 Premiere Hardcover that showcases why Miles Morales was named the “Best New Character of 2011.”
Growing up in Brooklyn is not so easy for Miles. His family has hardships and his parents work to give him everything they did not have, like a chance to escape poverty. Miles is fortunate and wins a lottery and spot in a prestigious charter school. Things are looking up for him. Then a genetically enhanced spider bites him and his whole world changes. With mysterious powers and no idea how to use them Miles is overwhelmed with fear. He just wants to be normal, but when the original Spider-Man dies to save the world, Miles learns the same lesson that Peter Parker did, with great power comes great responsibility.
Writer Brian Michael Bendis has flipped the status quo. Since the debut of the “Ultimate” line of comics Bendis has told the story of Peter Parker in more than 150 issues of Ultimate Spider-Man. But everything has changed and this story shows that anything can happen.
Bendis’ introduction of Miles is handled well. The story is built around Miles and his family life. We are shown who he is and why we should care about him. He has real teenage problems and is trying to fit in. The story feels like a natural progression from start to finish. The danger for Miles increases with each passing moment and Bendis makes you understand how tough this is on him while showing how cool it would be to get spider powers.
Sara Pichelli’s art is stunning in its ability to capture the story of Miles on paper. Her artwork gives life to this new character. The artwork shows the emotion of the story from smiles to grimaces to concern Pichelli tells you how the characters are feeling just by looking at them. Then there are smaller things like Miles’ first costume. It is an ill fitting Halloween costume that his friend has given him. It bunches up in certain spots and fits loosely in others. Small details like this add so much charm and creativity to the story.
A quick note about Ultimate Comics: Ultimate Comics Spider-Man tells the story of a different Spider-Man as if the story of Peter Parker and now Miles Morales was viewed from a different starting point. Peter Parker still exists on another world and his story and adventures are being told in the pages of Amazing Spider-Man. Ultimate Comics is a world where anything can happen. The heroes don’t always win and sometimes they don’t come home.
The decision: Ultimate Comics Spider-Man by Brian Michael Bendis Vol. 1 Premiere Hardcover introduces a new Spider-Man to the world. It is a daring initiative because changes to long time heroes are often met with great resistance. Bendis and Pichelli work together to produce a beautiful compelling story. Miles Morales is so much like Peter Parker and yet so different. He learns his lessons from the sacrifice of another and knows that the world will always need heroes. A hero’s worth is not measured by the color of his skin but on his actions. Miles Morales is a fun new character and is a welcome addition to the pantheon of Marvel Super Heroes.
You can find Ultimate Comics Spider-Man by Brian Michael Bendis Vol. 1 and the last adventures of Peter Parker as well at Geoffrey’s Comics in Gardena. Currently when you buy three hardcover or soft cover books you will get the fourth free.
If you can’t make it to Geoffrey’s Comics you can find this book at comic shops and fine bookstores everywhere. Just ask for it.
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