Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Review: Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man #5

Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man #5 by Bendis / Pichelli 

As is inevitable, the latest Ultimate Spider-Man relaunch was not short of naysayers. Poor old Miles Morales - the now deceased Peter Parker's replacement as Ultimate Spider-Man - was up against it from the start. Everything, from his age, to his race were placed under the closest of scrutiny, yet all the doubts seem to have been forgotten since the series itself actually started. Bendis has shattered all expectations with an opening that -  whisper it - may have reached the quality of his initial run on Ultimate Spider-Man. The series has been a slow burner thusfar, but with Miles finally in costume, the action amps up a notch with its fifth issue.

After meeting a none too pleased Spider-Woman at the close of #4, Miles is quickly brought into custody at the Triskellion, home to a justifiably suspicious Ultimates team. Miles is introduced to Nick Fury, and after its revealed that Fury is aware of Miles' uncle Aaron, their conversation is interrupted by Electro breaking himself out of custody. A brief fight scene ensues, as Electro takes down Iron Man, Hawkeye and Spider-Woman but Miles (aided by no small amount of luck) manages to subdue him and he is shot by Nick Fury. Miles appears to have proved himself, and at the issues close is finally awarded the nifty black costume that he has been sporting on the series' covers.

The series has been accused of severe decompression so far but although it's hardly silver age style storytelling, this issue does manage to fit in a pleasing amount of plot. Miles is introduced to the Ultimates, defeats a villain and is given his costume - and Bendis even manages to fit in a page or two dealing with his admittedly limited supporting cast. As ever, Miles is a likeable, if somewhat blank character and his reaction to meeting a group of world famous superheroes is suitably realistic. By the same token, it's fun seeing the Ultimates, although they were taken down a little too easily by Electro, a villain hardly among the big hitters of the Ultimate Universe. This brings me neatly onto my main complaint with the issue - despite it being fairly lucky, it seemed a little unbelievable, not to mention slightly predictable, that Miles would be able to defeat Electro where three of the world's premier superheroes failed. I had enjoyed seeing him built up as very much a rookie superhero, and he seems a little too competent in his fight scene with Electro.

That said, this is still a very enjoyable comic book. The subplot concerning Miles' uncle Aaron continues to be interesting and promises to be brought to the fore next issue. Sara Pichelli's art is as excellent as ever, although her handle on the Ultimates is not quite as strong as her version of Miles Morales has proved to be. The action seems a little static, but she does capture Electro's powers very well. This may not be the strongest issue of the titles relaunch, but it is still a good read, and carries on the momentum of what has, so far been a solid debut storyline.


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