Thursday, 10 November 2011

Review: Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #4

By Bendis / Pichelli

It is inarguable that D.C are currently making bigger waves in the comic book industry than their traditional rivals Marvel. The company who have largely ruled the roost for the last 50 years have finally been toppled - temporarily? Perhaps, either way it is good to see Marvel putting up a fight with books of the quality (and newsorthiness) of Brian Michael Bendis' Ultimate Spider-Man reboot.

It was predictable that the focus of many would be on Peter Parker's replacement as Spider-Man, 13 year old Miles Morales. What wasn't so predictable was that he would become such a well defined, likeable character so early in the titles run. While the similarities with Peter are obvious, he is also a well developed character in his own right. Avoiding the comic book cliche of being an orphan, while also carrying elements of the 'reluctant hero' that have served Spider-Man so well over the years. Morales is far from the conventional square jawed superhero and is all the better for it. In many ways he feels like the closest to a modern day retooling of Peter Parker that we have received since his inception. Is Brian Michael Bendis the modern day Stan Lee? The comparisons are obvious, Bendis crafted the Ultimate Universe and revolutionised comic book storytelling. He has his detractors but that should be seen more as an affirmation of his popularity than anything else. I dread to think of what the keyboard warriors of today would have had to say about Stan The Man.

In terms of action this issue moves as slowly as the previous three. There is a hint of an action sequence but little more - that story was told in the issue of Ultimate Fallout that introduced readers to Miles Morales. Again, the naysayers could find cause to complain but as someone who read that story I see little to be bothered by. It does however suggest a dangerous trend in modern day comics - when I buy a comic book I expect that comic book to contain a full and self contained story. If what is currently an exception becomes the rule I will begin to question my comic buying habits.

In place of fast paced action there remains the ponderous character development that has characterised this series. The foundations are there for one of the more memorable comic book creations in recent times, and they look to be solidly built, if lacking in the verve that many would demand. Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man may not be the energetic, loudmothed romp that Stan Lee delivered in the 1960's, but it is a comic book series planted squarely in the present day, with all the sensibilities that carries with it .


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