With Great Power…

Miles Morales Unmasks for first time Ultimate Spider-Man

*****SPOILERS AHEAD***** This article contains Spoilers concerning Ultimate Comics Spider-Man. You have been warned!!! 

I started reading comics around 2007, shortly after the Brand New Day story arc kicked off in Amazing Spider-Man. It was exciting for some readers, and incredibly agitating for so many other. I was neither of these. Instead I was scared. Scared of the #546 printed on the cover. That’s over half a century of missed history! I just couldn’t bring myself to leap into a story so deep. A few shelves over lied Ultimate Spider-Man, with a much smaller number. #106. Dare Devil adorned the cover… I HATE Dare Devil. This has nothing to do with the Ben Affleck atrocity, just the character himself always rubbed me the wrong way. I was hesitant for this reason, but knew that Spider-Man always loved a good “team up,” he did have a TV show dedicated to that fact after all. So I picked it up, and decided not to read it, or any other issue of Ultimate Spider-Man until I had collected them all from the beginning.

I spent almost 2 years tracking down each issue. By 2009 I had collected every comic with the Ultimate Marvel banner. 100 issues of X-men, 60 issues of Fantastic Four, 122 issues Spider-Man, about 30 or so Ultimates, and every random mini series in between. I was missing only the first 12 issues of Ultimate Spider-Man, and of course these are also the expensive issues… So I bought a hardcover collection, containing the first 12 issues, set aside some time and began reading. I read every Marvel Ultimate comic I owned, including all of the bad ones, and was incredibly satisfied with the whole collection. I enjoyed it enough that I expanded my books to include Amazing Spider-Man and a few other comics. Now I was never going to be able to read Amazing Spider-Man in it’s entirety, so I decided to read from 546 onward. The Brand New Day.

This was incredibly different then the Ultimate Spider-Man I was reading, but still familiar. I was a bit upset at certain decisions made in Amazing, like excluding MJ from most of the BND series, and the thrice monthly release was a heavy burden on my wallet. I found myself enthralled in the plot and the characters much more then the current run of Ultimate Spider-Man. You see after the “world shattering” events of Ultimatum the entire Ultimate line of books shifted toward new dynamics. Gone were the X-Men and Fantastic Four; The Ultimates became The Avengers; And through it all Spider-Man was still standing… Sort of. There was a new tone to the book, some changes in the art style, and the writing wasn’t as clever as it had been in the past. It was just… off. As was most of the “new” Ultimate Comics comics… Marvel took notice, and they tried to rectify the situation with new artists, writers, and situations. Things were slow, and sales were dipping, it wasn’t as bad as the late 90’s, but it wasn’t good. The Ultimate Comics lineup was in desperate need of a title to draw in the crowds.

In 2011 Marvel began running the Death of Spider-Man. There’s something to know about the Ultimate Universe: When a character dies, they die. No one comes back. No clones(except for one). In 11 years of production only 2 characters came back after death, and one of them died again a few issues later. That’s one hell of a track record! The feeling of dread slowly set in: Peter Parker could actually die, and never come back! They would never do that! Ultimate Spider-Man brought in the Ultimate line of books! It pioneered the industry from a steep decline to a high rise! I thought it could be a metaphor, that maybe Pete will quit being Spider-Man and become some new super hero working for SHIELD! I couldn’t help but get excited for the things to come with Peter Parker actually working for SHIELD! Maybe he would join The Ultimates, or The Avengers! Then the leaks came about… A new Spider-Man costume was announced, and a new artist was tied to the project. Finally, from the writer/creator himself, Peter Parker’s death was confirmed.

In Ultimate Spider-Man #160, Pete died in the arms of those he loved. I was pretty shaken up by the events that had unfolded in the last issue. I always felt a connection of sorts to Peter Parker, both Amazing and Ultimate, and now this connection, which was bolstered by the fact that Ultimate Spider-Man was my first mainstream comic collection, had been severed. It took time, but I got over it. I began thinking of the things to come, and who would be the new Ultimate Spider-Man. My primary theory was Ultimate Eddie Brock would take up the mantle. Eddie and Peter were childhood friends that grew apart, then got back together and became mortal enemies. Eddie was Venom, but had lost the suit in Ultimates 3, and as far as anyone knows, he’s still alive. So therein lies the notion that Pete’s death could affect Eddie in such a way that it forces him to use his own intellect, which was equivalent to Peters, to pick up the mantle and do good for the world as Spider-Man. The prospect of this brought the excitement back to the books for me! Finally, in Ultimate Fallout #4 my hopes were crushed. The new hero, Miles Morales was featured in the book for the first time ever. Just a few months later, he was starring in Ultimate Comics Spider-Man.

Miles stepped in with an all “new” origin story, which begins only a few months before the Death of Spider-Man. Of course that was used as a set piece to help the readers feel for Miles, and to give him a “reason” for becoming Spider-Man. You see Miles ignored his powers, and in turn with Spider-Man lore, his destiny. When he heard Spider-Man was dying he finally gave in and rushed to the scene, just in time to see Peter Parker die. Miles then blames Pete’s death on himself, stating “It’s MY fault he died.” He was even given the same exact advice Uncle Ben gave peter, only Miles hears it from someone far less important in his life. Instead of his dying uncle, or some other relative, he hears it from Peter’s roommate, Gwen Stacey.

Other then a few details, Miles Morales is Ultimate Peter Parker. Miles is young, he received his powers from a spider bite, he lives by “with great power comes great responsibility,” he talks to himself, and he blames himself for others misfortune. On the other hand Miles is not smart, and both of his parents are living. The defining moment for Peter Parker was when he realized he was at fault for abusing his powers and letting his Uncle, who raised him like a father, die. The defining moment for Miles is learning that the real Spider-Man, who lived by the words “With Great Power, Comes Great Responsibility,” died in battle to save his loved ones. It’s one of the weakest back stories I’ve ever read.

This is where I get confused. If you’re going to kill a character in any media, there must be some repercussion, such as that character being non-existent. Since Miles is so similar to Peter it becomes easier for us to accept him as the new hero, however he doesn’t stand out on his own. Some would argue that the qualities Miles and Peter share make Spider-Man who he is. I, however, have to disagree. Those qualities make Peter Parker who he is. Peter Parker overcame these hardships and arose as Spider-Man. Spider-Man isn’t the hero. Spider-Man didn’t die. Peter Parker died. Marvel just used the Death of Peter Parker for marketing, and to promote their new “diverse” lineup of heroes.

It’s a shame, the writing and art is actually solid, but if this book doesn’t take on an identity for itself soon, then I may just stop picking it up. Bendis might be able to keep the interest of some readers, and draw in others, but the quality is severely lacking. Maybe it’s becoming too Great of a Responsibility for him.

is not a boss.

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