Published by: Marvel Comics
Written by: Brian Bendis
Art by: David Marquez & Pepe Larraz
Collects: Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #13-18
United We Stand/Divided We Fall is the third volume of the third series of Ultimate Spider-Man (and the second titled Ultimate Comics Spider-Man) wherein the adventures of Peter Parker are reimagined for a new audience in a more updated setting than the classic sixties comics.
In the aftermath of The Death of Spider-Man, the title is now headlined by Miles Morales.
This particular story has a lot going on, as it sees Miles dealing with the fallout of his uncle’s death, Miles trying to convince Captain America that he is worthy of being a superhero, and also acts as a tie into a line-wide event going on in the Ultimate Comics universe, namely, their take on Civil War. But rather than a hero vs. hero affair, this Civil War is actually more akin to the historical conflict that saw the United States split in two. As such, to help save America, Miles must team up with the Ultimates, who are, of course, the Ultimate Comics versions of….
Founding Members: Iron Man, Thor, Ant-Man, Wasp & the Hulk
Base of Operations: New York City, USA
First Appearance: The Avengers #1 (September 1963)
In a ploy to defeat his brother, the trickster God Loki hoped to pit Thor against the rampaging behemoth known as the Hulk. However, the two heroes, assisted by Iron Man, Ant-Man and the Wasp, instead banded together to defeat Loki and in doing so, formed the Avengers.
Funded by the billionaire alter-ego of Iron Man, Tony Stark, and based out of his New York City mansion, the Avengers are ‘Earth’s Mightiest Heroes’ and the world’s premiere super-team. With close ties to the likes of S.H.I.E.L.D., the Fantastic Four, and the majority of the Earth’s heroes, the Avengers have time and again stood up to threats that are terrestrial (such as Ultron), extraterrestrial (such as Thanos), and even foes from out of time (Kang the Conqueror).
Their unity was cemented after the recovery of the long lost World War II super-soldier Captain America, but the Captain would be only the first in a long line of superheroes to join the team, with their roster ever-growing and always prepared to defend the Earth when the call is put out – “Avengers, Assemble!”
As Miles reels from the death of his uncle Aaron a.k.a. the Prowler, Captain America returns to the Ultimates, and deems this new Spider-Man unfit for duty.
Now, Miles must prove himself to one of the most respected superheroes on the planet, while the anti-government organisation HYDRA launches a strike at the United States and incites a second Civil War.
While the story itself isn’t necessarily bad, and the art continues to be a strong point, there are a number of issues that coalesce into a book that’s perhaps not worth reading.
The story starts off with the fallout from the previous arc. It’s interesting, and as mentioned, the art by Marquez is solid. But the dialogue starts to become tiresome as it continues to be way too wordy, and oftentimes, goofy. And not in a witty, funny way. Just dumb.
If the story dealt with this, and the ensuing meeting of Miles Morales, May Parker, Gwen Stacy and Mary-Jane that in many ways completes Miles’ journey to becoming Spider-Man, then the dialogue is an issue that could be overlooked.
But the arc keeps going, as Captain America is thrown into the fray.
The reason this is problematic is that the whole point of Captain America here is that Miles must prove himself to the elder hero. Cap blames himself for Peter Parker’s death, and when he learns the new Spider-Man is only thirteen, concludes that he can’t let history repeat itself.
The problem is, the way Cap is written as coming around makes no sense. Firstly, Miles impresses him by using his ‘Venom Blast’ (again! How boring) to bring down a supervillain. Then, Miles throws himself right into the middle of Cap and the Ultimates’ conflict with Hydra, which is pretty much a full-on war.
Here, we see Miles do his best to keep on top of the chaos, while Cap takes down the various Hydra agents. But when the first brawl is over, Cap credits Spider-Man for bringing everyone down (which I don’t know if that was a miscommunication between the writer and the artist – but that didn’t happen on the page), then enlists THIRTEEN-YEAR-OLD Miles to fight in a war.
Let me repeat that: this version of Captain America (more outwardly hardened than his mainstream counterpart) enlists an inexperienced, thirteen-year-old kid, to join a squad of super-powered soldiers and fight in a war.
It just defies reason. It’s inconsistent. And it’s not a very Spider-Man-y story too boot.
Sure, you can pen Spider-Man as getting in way over his head. It happens multiple times in the MCU. But there, Peter Parker is first brought into a conflict where no one is going for the kill (Civil War) and then, in the situations that could be potentially lethal, he enters them despite orders not to (Homecoming, Infinity War). Also, by that latter point, Peter is verging on adulthood. Presumably, he’s around 16-17.
And yes, that’s only four years difference, but that and the other differences matter.
Again, by itself, that could probably be ignored. It’s comic books, after all. But together, the overly wordy script, the goofy dialogue and the inconsistent and often annoying characters add up to something that’s just not really worth reading.
At most, I’d recommend reading through the New York-centric stuff, and calling it a day as soon as the story starts to tie into the ‘Civil War’ plot.
Furthermore, all of that wider Ultimate universe context is pretty pointless anyway, because a few years after this story, the Ultimate universe is destroyed and Miles is transported to the mainstream Marvel Universe, where none of these conflicts involving the Ultimates happened.
Again, it’s not necessarily bad. But I wouldn’t say it’s good either. All-in-all, I give this volume a…
Thanks for reading! What do you think of tie-ins? Do you enjoy them, or do you wish publishers would just let writers get on with their own stories? Let me know in the comments below!
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