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Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #1

Just to remind everyone that other companies have first issues, too – yesterday, Marvel Comics released Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #1. Written by the inestimable Brian Michael Bendis with art by Sara Pichelli, it's a very pretty book.

Seriously, because there's been so much controversy over diversity in comics the past few months, time has to be spent on this art. Perhaps Pichelli has been around a while and somehow I've just not noticed, but I'm noticing now. Though definitely given great support by colorist Justin Ponsor, Pichelli has mastered the quiet moments.

In a Bendis books, the quiet moments are what ties everything together, and he's got another great collaborator with this woman. Her style occasionally hearkens back to Mark Bagley, who worked with Bendis on the first Ultimate Spider-Man, but it also echoes more realistic artists like the Dodsons.

That said, most of Ultimate Comics Spider-Man seems so far to be those quiet moments. If Dan DiDio is right, and new readers want something more kinetic and action-packed, this book will not be the solution. The now famous (in the real world for about 39 more seconds) Miles Morales never appears in costume, nor does he ever purposely use his powers.

Instead, we get a flashback to long before the disaster that befell the Ultimate Universe. At Oscorp, brilliant biogeneticist Doctor Markus gets lectured by Norman Osborn on the origin of Spider-Man. Though his task is to somehow duplicate the powers in further sample spiders, that's essentially thrown away as Bendis reminds us that Osborn turned out to be the Green Goblin and then, spider sample #42 (definitely the answer to life, the universe and everything) stows away in a theft.

You know where this is going, and Bendis at least creates a vivid environment for Miles. The characters are well-written though nothing too surprising.

Others have noted that a segment seems to come from the documentary Waiting For Superman, about lotteries to get disadvantaged students into better schools. Again, Pichelli's delineation of the crowd's expectation, and the reactions after the names have been called, sells the scene wonderfully. And Miles and his family look like real people, with real emotions.

But the conflict in Miles' family also seems like something we've seen dozens of times. At least his origin isn't a rehash of Peter Parker's, and this new Spider-Man will be coming at the job from a very different perspective.

So it's going to go slowly, which is what Bendis did in reinventing Peter Parker back in 2000. Your patience level may vary. Though undoubtedly well-written, the story frustrated me in its pacing. But then, I've read several books this week that tumbled through their action without much chance to breathe and maybe it's good to go a little more leisurely.

Certainly, the art is worth the price of admission. I'm just not yet sure I'm going to come back and visit for a while.

Derek McCaw

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