If you've been following the comic news sites like I do, you'd think that DC was the only company out there with a major shakeup of their publishing line. Somewhat obscured by the fanboy anger at the DC reboot, Marvel released it's attempt at a major shakeup. One guess what I'm talking about. Come check me after the logo to find out just how right you are.
The Big Change:
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Sara Pichelli
True story, this comic was the first polybagged issue I've had to open in a good ten years. Suffice to say, I'm not as good preserving the bag as I once was. I swear they used to be easier to open.
So hey lookit that, after months of hype and leadup, the new 'blatino' Spidey has finally hit the scene. Huzzah! Is it a clinic on how to reinvigorate a franchise without totally alienating the core fanbase? Or does DC have the upper hand in this round of universal shakeup? The answer, honestly, is a little of both.
The good stuff about this issue is very good. The issue starts a nice little setup scene set in the past with Norman and an underling as they try to recreate the original OZ spider in a neat bit of symmetry with the first first issue a decade ago. The story jumps forwards a few months and we meet Miles, a runt of a kid with two devoted and loving parents who desperately want him to have a better life than they've had. The familial interactions (with the parents and later an uncle) are fantastic. The characters are warm, the dialogue snappy, and best of all, nothing seems forced. And then, right when things were picking up speed, it ended.
I have a weird relationship with Bendis. I find that he has some truly fantastic ideas and can write some great characters, but I rarely feel satisfied after I read one of his books. Worse, I often feel cheated when I buy one of his monthly books because it feels like I'm only getting half a story. And that's the main problem with this issue: I felt like I only got half a story.
I get it; he's not writing for the issue, he's writing for the trade. Hey, that's great when you're hammering through an arc of Daredevil, but when you're working on the first issue of major new character that's going to be getting a ton of press, you really ought to write for the issue. As a long term reader, I get that Bendis probably won't put Miles in the costume until the fourth issue and while it bothers me, I'll still give it a chance. A new reader on the other hand, I don't know if they'll be as forgiving. They came for Spider-Man, promised to them on the cover and in the press, but all they got was some kid who gets bit by a spider.
This is in no way a bad issue, it's just a little disappointing in a way opposite of Justice League #1. Justice League was high on action and spectacle, but low on information and deep characterization, whereas Ultimate Comics Spider-Man is the reverse. Neither is totally right, both have their merits, but ultimately I'm worried about their ability to hook a new reader.
That said, the store this week was packed and I snagged the very last copy of this comic from the shelves, so something must be working. Here's hoping it keeps up, and that this run of Ultimate Comics Spider-Man lasts as long as the old.
The old Ultimate Spider-Man that ran for 130+ issues, not Ultimate Comics Spider-Man that only ran for 13 or so. Just to clarify.