Chain Reactions | Spider-Men #1
This past Wednesday saw the release of a comic we were told would never happen — a crossover between Marvel’s original universe and the newer, shinier Ultimate universe. Spider-Men #1, by Brian Michael Bendis, Sara Pichelli, Justin Ponsor and Cory Petit, features a team-up between the original Peter Parker and his namesake, Miles Morales, who took the mantle in the Ultimate universe last fall.
So what was the reaction to the first issue? Here are a few opinions from around the web.
James Hunt, Comic Book Resources: “For all his work on the Ultimate version of Peter Parker, it’s surprisingly rare to see Bendis writing the Marvel Universe Spider-Man in anything approaching a starring role. Spider-Man may be a constant presence in Bendis’ Marvel Universe titles, but only ever as a supporting character. It probably isn’t intentional, except as a measure to avoid diluting Peter Parker’s voice between the two comic lines, but it’s worked out for the best. To have Brian Bendis inside the head of the ‘real’ Peter Parker in Spider-Men #1 gives the issue an immediate air of significance. Even before anything’s happened, we know it’s something special.”
Steve Morris, The Beat: “Peter takes most of the attention in this first issue, with Bendis finally getting his chance to do some solo work with the character. He’s clearly been wanting to write about the Amazing Spider-Man for years now, adding him to various Avengers teams and contributing short stories whenever a new anthology or anniversary issue comes out. He’s funny here, although there are still very strong reminders why Bendis’ version of the Amazing Spider-Man is widely hated by everyone who has to spend more than five minutes with him. The jokes tend to work, although sometimes they grate extensively. When Bendis treats this as a throwaway, fun story, which isn’t *important* but is widely entertaining, he is at his best. There’s a rare sense of freedom in the story, which is probably because the Ultimate Universe is still an alterable playground for writers.”
David Pepose, Newsarama: “But the real downside to this issue is the pacing and the plot. You’ll notice I didn’t mention much about Miles Morales, the new Ultimate Spider-Man, and there’s a reason for that. This is a very utilitarian first chapter, basically assigned just to get one character from Point A to Point B — and considering this is a two-character story, that’s going to leave some people feeling a little empty-handed. As I said earlier, Bendis on Peter Parker isn’t anything new, and an issue of monologuing isn’t the main draw of this book. The team-up is what matters, and because Bendis eats up several pages with Peter’s chattiness, that team-up doesn’t really get its just dues in the opening issue.”
Kevin Finnigan, Comic Book Therapy: “But the dialogue is classic Spider-Man. The jokes are somewhat corny, but give the reader a chuckle none the less. Peter’s long monologue about why he loves New York City, while giving subtle nods to his love life and other aspects of his civilian life, are well written also. If a reader had never read/see a Spider-Man book/movie before, they could pick this up and love it all the same. Some of it is public knowledge at this point, like the police hating Spider-Man, and could have been omitted. When Peter goes into the Ultimate universe, Bendis does throw the readers for a loop. Even as a veteran reader, I still found myself giving into the fake out. Most of this had to do with Sara Pichelli’s artwork, but part of it has to do with the script. Even with the story taking a detour into Peter’s love of New York City, Bendis delivers an enjoyable issue.”
Josh Flanagan, iFanboy: “And yet, there is still Sara Pichelli. She’s one of the most exciting new talents to come along in a long time, and she meshes so well with Bendis’ sensibilities that the pages flow incredibly well. The storytelling is effortless and clean. Her cityscapes are equally impressive, and she and colorist Ponsor managed to give the two dimensions of New York perceptibly different feels. They are not the same place, and that comes across. Her classic Peter Parker looks like an adult male, where her Mile Morales looks like a kid. He should, because she’s the artist who brought him to life. I also really like that she’s very good at putting life into a Spider-Man mask that should be largely lifeless. It has to be done subtly, otherwise it gets weird. Her version of the mask seems to have textured, slightly mirrored eyes, and when she wants to express an emotion on Peter’s masked face, she tweaks the eye shape just so, and it really works. You have to look for the specific changes, but the feeling comes across instantly. The fact is, you can read through this issue without even reading any of the text, and you’ll know exactly what’s happening. The art is just that good.”
Joey Esposito, IGN: “It’s also worth pointing out the great lettering work of Cory Petit, who not only deftly navigates the wordy script from Bendis, but also coyly switches between fonts once Spider-Man makes his way over to the Ultimate Universe. It’s a nice touch that might go unnoticed by some readers, but for those that are letter conscious, it gives a similar effect to that of Dorothy opening the door to a world full of color after her arrival in Oz.”
David Uzumeri, ComicsAlliance: “So what is in this debut issue? Bendis writing what begins as a fairly straightforward Spider-Man story, which drops some clues and eventually begins leading into the book’s premise. This premise holds a lot of promise, but as of the end of issue #1, that promise remains just that. Spider-Men #1 is a very well-drawn, well-scripted comic, but to a degree it feels like two excellent craftspeople getting exposition out of the way so they can get to the really good parts. While that might be necessary for the story, and provide a way for Parker to act as a reader surrogate for those unfamiliar with the Ultimate Universe, it’s a largely rote opening that lacks the beating emotional heart that made Bendis and Pichelli’s collaboration on Miles Morales so memorable.”