Review Time!

May 15, 2012

Here’s a review of the miraculous multiracial “Ultimate Comics All-New Spider-Man: Issue 10”!

For those of you who don’t know the story of Spider-Man, what the hell are you doing on my blog? Also it goes as such; orphaned nerd Peter Parker gets spider-powers, abuses spider-powers, finds out this abuse indirectly leads to the murder of his beloved uncle, vows that with great (spider-) power there comes great responsibility, and fights lunatics in costumes.

It is truly a tale of the ages, but in an admittedly progressive move Marvel Comics recently killed off Spidey’s alternate, “Ultimate” counterpart (don’t ask!), and replaced him with a half-African American, half-Hispanic younger version called Miles Morales. Similar powers, intelligence, costume and alliterative name aside, Miles has so far offered a genuinely interesting example of a Spider-Man in a different context but with just as compelling moral (geddit?) and physical problems.

Miles’ parents are still alive and have instilled a sense of compassion and duty in him, but his father has a deep prejudice against mutants; how will Miles come out, if at all? His uncle, Aaron Davis, is still alive and Miles has accepted the whole power-responsibility thing without him dying (inspired by Peter’s legacy, naturally). Aaron, however, is a murdering thief, who tries to convince Miles to take out a rival super-villain; will Miles halt or help his uncle?

Only one of these questions is answered in #10, and it’s both mildly predictable and kind of heartbreaking. I can’t give away any SPOILERS, but if I was to give away some SPOILERS I’d SPOILERS say that Miles is on his way to make a very Peter-esque mistake.

The pacing of the issue, as with most of the series, is strong and dynamic. Writer Brian Michael-Bendis alternates seamlessly between pathos, humour, exposition and action, and his understanding of familial and social awkwardness is spot-on. I think the strongest scene was yet another moment at the Morales’ dinner table, which mined teenage-angst for both sympathy and laughs. Regular artist David Marques again delivers clean, expressive characters and reveals an aptitude for motion, something notoriously difficult to convey in comics.

Admittedly I think I enjoyed the introductory issues more than this one, but that might be because I’ve grown so fond of Miles that I don’t want him to screw up. Which of course he will. He’s a good kid, but kids are stupid, you know? Yeah you do.

Anyway, #10 represents everything great about the series, stands as an accessible and somewhat-complete event in Morale’s broader story, and remains one of the few genuine attempts to create diversity in superhero comics.

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