UCSM #23: Spider-Man No More!

Hey everyone! It’s been a little bit since I did a comic book review, but the latest  story arc in Ultimate Comics Spider-Man is just too good to pass up.

Ultimate Comics Spider-Man follows the story of Miles Morales, the “black Spider-Man” that everyone was so up in arms over a year or so ago, as he struggles to fill the role of Spider-Man that was left open when Peter Parker was killed in front of his own house by the Green Goblin. Keep in mind, the Ultimate universe is not the same as the “regular” or 616 Universe. So while Peter died heroically saving his family and friends in the Ultimate Comics, he’s still alive and kicking in the regular comic universe. In fact, both Peter and Miles have even met up! But that’s another story…

*Spoilers for this and past issues ahead!*

UCSM23 Cover

Now why is this latest story arc so important? Well in Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #22 Miles mother was shot and killed by friendly police gunfire after Venom (that evil black symbiotic monster) attacked a hospital that Miles’ mother and father were in. At the time Venom was under the impression that Miles’ father was actually the new Spider-Man, and had attacked the Morales family in front of their own home. Although Miles was able to fend the creature off, he was unable to save his mother at the hospital later that night and, tragically, had to watch her die in his arms as she finally realized that her son was Spider-Man. her last words of advise? “Don’t tell your father.” As you might imagine Miles was rather upset, and as a result he swore of being Spider-Man forever…

Cue the one year time skip.

That’s right, UCSM #23 picks up a whole year after the death of Miles mother! While Peter Parker has ditched the costume before, he always seems to come back to it by the end of whatever story arc he gives it up in. So it’s a nice change to see Miles actually stick to his decision, even if we ultimately know that he’ll be forced to don the costume once again (the comic is called Ultimate Comics Spider-Man after all). It’s also nice to see that the many people in and around Miles life also refuse to give up on him. His best friend Ganke, who has always been his staunched supporter and ally, is unsurprisingly unconvinced that Miles will never again be Spider-Man.

Miles Ganke Katie
Meet Miles’ new girlfriend, Katie Bishop.

More surprisingly though, it was really good to see where Jessica Drew, Spider-Woman, stood on the issue. In the Ultimate Universe, Jessica Drew is a female clone of Peter Parker (created by none other than Doctor Octopus!) who still has a lot of the early genetic memories of Peter Parker lurking within her. She came to terms with the fact that she isn’t (and can never be) Spider-Man some time ago, and instead works with SHIELD to do what good she can as Spider-Woman. Because of all this she’s a bit more downcast and resolute than Peter Parker was; but at her core still retains the moral compass and good nature that made Peter such a hero in the first place, albeit with a understandably dark side. For example she once refused to save Doctor Octopus and wanted to let him die, until Peter intervened and set her straight.

Jessica urges Miles to take up the mantle once again.
Jessica urges Miles to become Spider-Man.

Although she wasn’t always in favor of Miles being Spider-Man, Jessica Drew has come to accept and support Miles as the “new” Spider-Man and is the first one we see really try to push Miles out of his year long absence. Miles has no idea who Jessica really is, or her relation to Peter, so to him she’s just another face trying to tell him how to live his life. He doesn’t respond too well to this, as you might imagine, and turns her down twice in the course of issue #23. Both on the roof of his school when she tries to hand him a briefcase and urges him to suit up again, and again when he finds the briefcase on his bed at his fathers house.

Miles opens the briefcase and refuses the mantle of Spider-Man once again.
Miles opens the briefcase later that night and refuses the mantle once again.

Miles has no idea that, in a way, it’s Peter Parker “herself” that’s trying to get him to deal with his grief and accept his responsibility as the new Spider-Man. This is the kind of character dynamic that keeps me reading Ultimate Comics Spider-Man issue after issue. Where else could you see the figurative “ghost” of Peter Parker, Jessica Drew, trying her best to help a new young man step up to the plate and deal with the responsibility (and risks) that come with being Spider-Man? Miles Morales isn’t Peter Parker, and he has to find his own way in the world and don the mantle of Spider-Man for his own reasons. He can no longer just go out and save people in Peter’s memory or because it’s “the right thing to do” like he used.

The full weight and responsibility of being Spider-Man is now crystal clear to him, and he’s going to have to come to terms with what it all means on his own. But Jessica, who has actually experienced all the things Peter went through, is forced to sit on the sidelines and do what little she can to help Miles out. It’s heartbreaking, as watching Miles suffer reminds her of all the things Peter went through; and she knows all too well that by asking Miles to become Spider-Man once again she’s putting his at risk of losing more loved ones. But it has to be done. The world needs Spider-Man; and Miles is the only one who can don that mantle in this new age. It’s his destiny.

Gwen suggests the Duck
Well… this is awkward.

Of course Jessica isn’t the only one who cares for Miles and empathizes with his plight, as Gwen Stacy has lost both her father and Peter Parker himself to Spider-Man related violence. So when Miles bumps into her when he and his father go out for dinner, she does what she can to try and let him know that she’s there for him. Miles doesn’t want to here it though, and by the end of their brief exchange wants nothing to do with the place or Gwen.

Gwen feels for Miles
Dawh… Sad Gwen. 😦

Miles can’t ever catch a break though, so of course as he and his father are leaving the Chinese restaurant they were going to eat at they are both blown back from the windows by an explosion from the street outside. And who do Miles and Gwen see as they check the street for the source of the explosion? Why none other than Cloak & Dagger fighting one of my all time favorite minor villains, Bombshell. This is the first we’ve ever seen of the Ultimate version of Cloak & Dagger, so next issue should prove to be an interesting read. And it’s always good to see Bombshell, the potty mouthed girl who likes to blow things up, make a return. Her unique “style” of dialogue always proves to be amusing.

Cloak Dagger Bombshell

All that being said, this latest arc of Ultimate Comics Spider-Man is shaping up to be quite a doozey! Don’t worry though! If you don’t feel like picking it up at your local comic book store just be sure to swing by At The Buzzer and check out my monthly reviews, as I’ll be covering this arc in its entirety as it progresses. If you’ve been looking for a reason to jump into comics or wondering just how that whole “black Spider-Man” thing was going… now is perhaps the best time to jump on-board. With a one year time jump and a new path ahead of him, even long time Spider-Man readers like myself have no idea what’s in-store for Miles.

This is new territory for Spider-Man, as even though Peter lost Uncle Ben, it was Ben’s death that pushed him to be Spider-Man. Miles’ mother, on the other hand, died as a result of Miles being Spider-Man. How he comes to deal with this and the Spider-Man he’ll eventually become remains to be seen. I’ve got high hopes though! And regardless of how it all turn out I’m sure it’ll be one heck of a great story!

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