I was a huge fan of “Ultimate Spiderman”. I think it’s the best written comic. Ever. I know, there have been quite a few outstanding comics over the years; this one’s still the best.
Brian Bendis and Mark Bagley did an amazing job creating stories that were fun and engaging while remaining character driven. Great dialogue and strong story telling (Bagley’s ability to convey emotion was outstanding). I once heard Bendis say (regarding his work with Bagley) that the greatest compliment a writer can give an artist is to remove dialogue. If the artwork tells the story well enough, no words are needed. Bagley had a lot of dialogue free panels.
With that said, I hated that Peter Parker character was killed. I’d come to know that character so well, it was an actual loss. It stung.
I was appreciative of the very classy way he went out. I strongly recommend picking up the next trade paperback (listed on the TFAW website as “Ultimate Comics Spider-Man Dosm Prem HC Quesada Cover“, which is probably the really long version of ”Ultimate Comics Spider-Man: The Death of Spiderman”, or something similar). I expect a trade collection of the followup series, Ultimate Fallout, to be released soon after. The title has been published on a near weekly basis of late, which helped make the individual serialized issues even more fun to read!
The first issue was almost as emotionally gripping as the series finale. I dare you to read the conversation between May and the little girl outside the church without letting it get to you (I teared up, I admit it.)
I just had a chance to read the fourth issue (of six) of Ultimate Fallout. I got to read the introduction of a new character (Miles Morales) trying to step up and fill the void left by Parker’s death. And I got to see that the new character is dark-skinned.
Before reading it, I’d been exposed to a lot of press. I’d heard that the character would be half-black/half-Latino, and that he would also be gay. I had seen a lot of tweets and Facebook posts mentioning angry, hateful communications by people outraged by the change in skin color. I’ve seen tweets by Marvel Staffers shocked at the amount of outraged hate mail that they were getting. I read a Forbes article by Matthew Newton here that listed the frenzied media response to the change. It also references a few notable reactions: “Glenn Beck managed to connect news of the new Spider-Man to a quote from Michelle Obama where she said, “We’re gonna have to change our traditions.” And some of the readers over at USA Today appear to be holding an impromptu Klan meeting in the comments section.”
I didn’t check out the USA Today Message boards, but I did have a chance to hear Glenn Beck’s rant. He was really worked up about it, and most of his dialogue did seem to be aimed at linking the change of skin color to a plot by Michelle Obama. I’m still not sure where he was going with that train of thought. But I have to disagree with him , the kid does not “look just like President Obama”. I couldn’t find the video clip on youtube. But I did find a clip where the entire audio track is set to cartoon footage of J. Jonah Jameson. I doubt this one stays up for long:
I’ve also seen this quote re-tweeted repeatedly: “The new half black and Latino Spiderman makes perfect sense. He has sticky fingers, climbs walls, and loves Mary Jane”.
Not surprisingly, all the buildup had gotten me psyched to read it. What kind of shocking scenes could be generating these kinds of extreme reactions? I had a vision of a gang-banger with lots of bling pulling off his mask and saying “Where are the white women at?“
Then I read it. The issue contains three short stories, each focusing on a different character (the others being Reed Richards and Valerie Cooper). The Spiderman story is only seven pages long. Most of it introduces Spiderman as being raw and just beginning to figure out how to use his new abilities. The very last panel has an exhausted, dark-skinned kid pulling his mask back from his face. One half page panel that only contained 7 words of dialogue referring to his costume.
A great writer in a great series brings a realistic and painful death to a beloved character. He then introduces a replacement (“next-generation” heroes happen all the time, just ask Green Lantern, Flash, Captain Marvel, the Human Torch and so on). And everyone freaks out over his skin color.
I will absolutely be buying the first issue of the “All-New Ultimate Comics Spiderman #1” when it comes out.
Brian Bendis has earned my trust by consistently delivering a fantastic product for over eleven years. I have every confidence he will take the book in a great direction, using his skills with dialogue and characterization to make me as invested in Miles Morales as I was in Peter Parker. It might not happen overnight, but I’m confident enough that I’m in for the ride.
Hopefully everyone gets past the hysteria and enjoy some great stories.