Comic Review: Spider-Men (Hardcover)
(Warning: Contains Ultimate Spider-Man spoilers!)
Spider-Men marks the first time the Ultimate universe and the regular 616 Marvel universe have crossed over. The Ultimate universe was originally created to be continuity free and a nice jumping on point for new readers. Ironically it has plenty of it’s own continuity to keep track of these days but luckily Spider-Men can be enjoyed by new fans of either universes.
The premise is pretty straightforward. Peter Parker gets transported into the Ultimate universe and has to find his way back. It never really gets much more complicated than that. Before long Peter meets up with Miles, the Spider-Man of the Ultimate universe and there’s confusion aplenty as the two of them try figure out just what’s going on.
The bulk of the story is Peter interacting with the alternate versions of his friends and family. In fact the highlight of the whole series is seeing Peter talk to Gwen Stacy and Aunt May. May having just lost her own version of Peter and Gwen being long dead back in Peter’s world. It makes for a genuinely emotional conversation and I enjoyed it far more than any of the action segments.
Since it’s written by Brian Michael Bendis, the sole writer of Ultimate Spider-Man, all the characters here are spot on. In fact I’d go as far as to say you could read this alongside Ultimate Spider-Man and just consider it a short spin-off. The strength of this collection shows in that you can read it entirely independently and it still makes a great story. Despite being firmly in the Ultimate universe almost the entire story takes place from Peter’s point of view. Since he’s new to everything going on around him it makes it easier on those who aren’t as familiar with the Ultimate universe too. Obviously you get more from it if you’re familiar with the Ultimate world but you’ll never feel too lost. All you need to know is the bare basics of Peter Parker’s story.
Sara Pichelli’s art is phenomenal. I really took my time with this book thanks to how great everything looks. The wide shots of New York are fantastic, and mesh perfectly with Peter’s monologue about loving the city. Her art made me legitimately jealous that I couldn’t be there swinging through the city myself. It’s not just her scenery she nails, the characters are rendered really well too with her sharp clean work. I’ve never come across her before but after this she can count me as a fan.
If you’re looking for a story about Spider-Man fighting hordes of enemies and overcoming great odds then you’re in the wrong place. Spider-Men is a story about family and friends with some action sprinkled in here and there to keep it exciting. As a fan of both series’ I was looking forward to this but it took me by surprise just how much I loved reading it. At five issues it’s a nice length too with the story wrapping up before the concept gets old. If you’re thinking about checking this out I highly recommend it.