SPIDER-MEN | Comic Review

We’re rounding out our Miles Morales coverage with a bang as Spider-Man meets a Web-slinger from another world!

Published by: Marvel Comics
Written by: Brian Bendis
Art by: Sara Pichelli
Year: 2012

Collects: Spider-Men #1 – 5

CONTENTS
– Background
– Plot
– Review


BACKGROUND:

Going off the name alone, you’d be forgiven for thinking Miles Morales’ debut film Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse was based off of the similarly titled Spider-Verse comic event. And while it does take some things from that story, such as the inclusion of different Spider-Men and Women such as Gwen Stacy, Spider-Man Noir and Spider-Ham, the story actually leans much closer to Spider-Men.

In this comic, there are only two Spider-Men, the stars of the two main Spider-Man comics of the time.

From the Ultimate Universe (Earth-1610), you’ve got…

SPIDER-MAN

Real Name: Miles Gonzalo Morales
Affiliation: The Champions
First Appearance: Ultimate Comics Fallout #4 (October 2011)

In another universe, teenager Miles Morales was bitten by a genetically engineered spider accidentally stolen from Norman Osborn by his cat-burglar uncle Aaron Davis a.k.a. The Prowler. Undergoing strange changes, Miles conferred with his best friend Ganke Lee, and the two concluded he had gained, with the addition of invisibility and an energy blastpowers similar to Spider-Man!
However, shunning heroics, Miles instead decided to keep his powers secret and was wracked with guilt after witnessing the death of the original Spider-Man, Peter Parker. Deciding the continue Parker’s legacy, Miles became the all-new ‘Ultimate’ Spider-Man, protecting New York and the World as the new web-slinger.
However, through the machinations of Mysterio, Miles came to meet another Peter Parker, of Earth-616, and later, during a reality breaking crisis, found his friends and family transported to this Peter Parker’s reconstructed world after his own universe was destroyed. Now, in a world full of superheroes, Miles fights the good fight alongside the adult Spider-Man and a growing number of teen Champions.

And from the mainstream universe (Earth-616), you of course have the original…

SPIDER-MAN

Real Name: Peter Benjamin Parker
Affiliation: The Avengers
First Appearance: Amazing Fantasy #15 (August 1962)

A teenage science prodigy bit by a radioactive spider, Peter Parker initially used his powers (strength, speed, agility, wall-crawling and an intuitive ‘spider-sense’) as a showman.
However, after he neglected his responsibility to stop a criminal, that same criminal killed his Uncle Ben, teaching Peter that he must always use his powers for the good of others. Juggling adventures with caring for his elderly Aunt May, an on-again, off-again relationship with Mary-Jane Watson and trying to hold down a job, Peter strives to take his bad luck in stride to become one of the most prolific heroes in New York, using his years of experience, self-made gadgets and spectacular abilities as the amazing Spider-Man!
Although a horde of villains and hard times plague him at every turn, Peter refuses to give up his web-swinging ways, in the hopes that he can honour his Uncle and live up to the mantra that “With great power, there must also come great responsibility”.

However, while this story quite easily slots into the ongoing adventures of Peter Parker, it is rather hard to place this story into the timeline of Miles’ adventures.

It clearly takes place after volume two of his series, due to the fact that his uncle is out of the picture, as seen in Scorpion. However, Miles’ lack of web-shooters and Captain America’s absence from the Ultimates would suggest it takes place before United We Stand/Divided We Fall.

And yet, in this comic, Miles shows a familiarity with Peter’s supporting cast, who he meets for the first time (properly) in that latter story. Plus there’s the fact that those two stories take place in pretty quick succession in-universe.

It’s a somewhat baffling slip, considering this book is written by Brian Bendis, who up until this point had exclusively penned all of Miles’ stories. It is, however, rather inconsequential, so it’s fairly easy to just sit back and enjoy the story as it unfolds.


PLOT:

Peter Parker is the Amazing Spider-Man, one of the many protectors of New York City. But after a random bout with his long time foe Mysterio, Peter is thrown into another dimension; one where Miles Morales is the all-new Ultimate Spider-Man.

Now, these two Spider-Men must make sense of these reality breaking antics, and bring the perpetrator to justice.

But what surprises does this universe where everyone knows Peter Parker as the famous hero who died in the line of duty hold for the Amazing Spider-Man?


REVIEW:

A long time ago, when the Ultimate Universe was still in its infancy – a fresh slate for creators to retell the stories of classic Marvel comics with new and updated twists – editorial boldly declared that if the Ultimate Universe and the mainstream Marvel Universe ever crossed over, it would signify they were out of ideas.

Well, that has now happened multiple times, but luckily, supposed creative bankruptcy aside, this first goes at it led to an enjoyable and charming little story.

Much like the Spider-Verse movie, the scale of Spider-Men is much smaller than the premise would suggest. It’s far more personal, getting the dimension-hopping out of the way quickly and then just exploring the contrasting nature of the different Spider-Men and their universes.

It follows a fairly simplistic hero meets hero format (they fight, they team-up, they learn something from one another and go their separate ways), but in spite of that, it still feels like a worthwhile read.

It’s also a breezy read, with some great moments, both in terms of action and emotional beats. The face-off between the two Spider-Men is particularly good, and Peter Parker meeting Ultimate Comics versions of Aunt May, Gwen Stacy and Nick Fury make for some touching and amusing reading.

While some characters like Mysterio and Iron Man don’t read as their usual selves so much as they do more generic Bendis takes on the characters, overall Brian Bendis brings his A-game to the parts that matter.

He’s joined in this endeavour by Miles’ co-creator Sara Pichelli, who likewise delivers some great artwork. It’s energetic and diverse, and really captures the spirits of both Spider-Men.

While it may not be as outlandish as some people might expect from a multiversal Spider-Man story, this is arguably superior to the Spider-Verse event, as it manages to retain the feel of a Spider-Man story, without getting too caught up in dimension-jumping nonsense.

All-in-all, I give Spider-Men a…

Thanks for reading! What kind of multiverse story are you partial to? Big and bombastic or small and personal? Let me know in the comments below!

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