Combating Dystopia.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

On Why Ult. Spider-Man is Far More Than Amazing.

The Ultimate Comics version of Spider-Man has been much maligned (though little of it justifiable non-tebagger histrionic reasons), Seen as a "stunt" and a "gimmick" and railed against before the readership had even gotten the opportunity to read anything about the character in question, I was admittedly curious about who this young Miles Morales would be, and how his road to great power and responsibility would begin.

Finally getting the opportunity to sit down with the issue and, leveling with you here, its far and away a brilliant origin story. Miles comes off as sweet, sensitive and self aware in a way that makes him instantly endearing, and Sara Pichelli's pencils are both refined and dynamic, its a real pleasure to see such a(female) talent display her craft with such aplomb. I fully expect (and hope and pray) we see Pichelli carve quite a career for herself based on this.

Regarding Brian Micheal Bendis, the pacing and the characters are pretty inviting all at once, and given the white knuckle rage so many seemed to have regarding the passing of the guard, given the first issue is doing so well out of the gate, I'm hopeful that this tea partyesque freakout is unfounded. Seriously, look at issue #1's letters column for the tiniest of doses of thinly veiled racist stupidity. Its indication enough that this series succeeding is going to have to do so in the face of ignorance and biases about who can legitimately claim the mantle of "hero", and who we are comfortable reading stories about.

Luckily, Miles and his new cast seems to be in incredibly capable hands, between Bendis and Pichelli we have what looks to be on the verge of a great new era for the Ultimate comic (which frankly, I hadn't touched since issue #1). The moment where I felt that this comic was going to speak to the audience in profound ways was when Miles and his parents were crowded in an auditorium anxiously awaiting the opportunity to attend a prestigious charter school. Its a scene so reminiscent of "Waiting for Superman", and so brilliantly telegraphed by both writer and artist that its almost painful to watch. As one student is granted this luck of the draw, and given a genuine chance at a future, others are denied and left behind regardless of whatever phraseology Dubya would care to use. Miles father watches and reacts with the sort of cynicism and horror rational people do at how much is riding on educational emancipation from the inner city and underfunded school systems and how skewed it seems. The scene only lasted a few pages but carried a tremendously impressive weight.

The commentary is only one of the reasons why Ultimate Spider-Man #1 is exemplary. In many ways its a benchmark on how to write/create new characters and make them meaningful in a world full of comic story hegemony. Young Miles is so new and so full of potential, his version of New York is such a vivid, unexplored one, that anyone'd be remiss to not tune in to explore both the character and the world with as he develops in it. I don't think I've read a better number one in quite a long while. Hands down, its how comic book characters ought to be done.

Easy listening= The Pass- Colors

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