Yet another in the long line of unnecessary restarts, Ultimate Comics Spider-Man picks up six months after the end of Ultimate Spider-Man and Ultimate Spider-Man Requiem. New York City has been recovering since being hit with a tidal wave in Ultimatium. Law enforcement and citizens now have a new-found respect for its friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, thanks to J. Jonah Jameson’s premature obituary praising our hero’s heroism. Obviously it’s a brand new day (pun intended) for our little arachnid boy, right?
Not so much “brand new” as it is “just another” for Peter Parker. There are some new developments though. For one, Peter isn’t working at the Daily Bugle right now, but then again, we don’t even know if there still is a Bugle. Instead, we find our young hero plunging himself within the noble profession of fast food cashier. I’m still trying to decide if the frog hat Peter must wear on the job is a nod to the Marvel D-list hero Frog-Man or not. Either way, it’s not going to give him any worse hat hair than his spider mask.
Then there’s Peter’s not-so-new squeeze, which unless I missed something at the end of the last series, this is kind of unexpected.
Obviously Bendis doesn’t want us to know everything we’ve missed just yet, but all things considered, everything seems standard in the drama-filled life of Peter Parker. Bendis may be starting off with a bit much though. Not only do we have six months to catch up on, but he also throws the Human Torch, Kingpin, Mysterio and someone who seems to be the Ultimate version of the Hood into the mix. Luckily though, comics have a much better track record dealing with multiple heroes and villains than their movie counterparts.
Is this really a redefinition of the status quo, a reinvention of the reinvention, or some other re-thing that Marvel would lead you to believe? Not really. Peter is still Spider-Man. He’s still the same nerdy teen living with his aunt and Gwen Stacy, going to school and moonlighting as a superhero. It’s still the exact same series, just with a six-month time jump. Right now, minor differences aside, the status quo actually is quo.
So why restart the book at issue one? Same reason Marvel always does it – to make a semi-clean break and try to attract new readers. It’s the mindset of “Hey, newbies! Come read this book right from the start.” It may not be a necessary evil, but it’s definitely an evil we readers are forced to put up with. At least until they reintegrate the title back into the original Ultimate Spider-Man numbering (you know Marvel will). One problem though. This isn’t a good issue for new readers of Ultimate Spider-Man. Perhaps the arc will unfold with better introductory material in the following issues, but as I said, it’s a continuation of the Ultimate Spider-Man story. Characters and relationships are somewhat different than a new reader coming off 616 or the movies would be used to. The recap page only goes over Ultimatium and Requiem. This is not a fresh start. It’s just volume two of the same story.
Disregarding the whole reboot mess, this issue is intriguing. While I wouldn’t call it changing the status quo, it’s at least a little house cleaning. The surprise ending alone, very important to one of the big characters, makes you interested in seeing what happens next. The arc might be trying to do too much, but only later issues will tell. Just don’t buy into this being the first issue of an all-new series. It’s still Ultimate Spider-Man.
Perhaps I’d be more forgiving of this so-called issue one if the art were nice. It’s not.
Lafuente keeps with the scrawny body style the title has used since it started with Mark Bagley. However, for our leading Spider-Man, his body shrank while his head did not. Really, in some panels, he has a body not even in its pre-teens. One panel has an almost age-appropriate Gwen Stacy talking to a 10-year-old Spider-Boy.
Faces do not seem to be Lafuente’s strong suit. Eye positions shift from two thirds up to dead center, causing for some big foreheads. The lower faces also go from round to thin and narrow. And these all happen within the same characters, particularly Peter.
Even the Kingpin seems to have ordered his head a few sizes too big for his face. Somehow though, the face seems to grow into it with each successive panel.
Then there’s Spider-Man with his headlights…I mean his eye lenses. Those things are huge. They’re also really close to where his mouth should be, which must lead to some serious fogging. Plus his body hardly looks muscular at all. The Ultimate version of Spidey has traditionally been thinner than his 616 counterpart, but usually in the past, he’s been able to maintain some muscle structure.
I think I know why the mysterious hooded character is the best drawn character in the whole book: faceless mask and baggy clothes that hide his body structure.
If you’re seeing a theme in all this, it’s consistency, or lack thereof. There are some actually decent-looking panels, but there are others that look awful. I’m almost positive Lafuente is making a manga parody in some of them. This art needed some serious supervision and clean up. Especially clean up. Random indistinguishable shapes appearing in front of characters could have easily been fixed had someone actually looked and said something.
The New World According to Peter Parker (the issue’s title) isn’t very new, nor is it pretty to look at. It is a decent start to what can be an interesting story line. Readers may be fascinated to learn what has happened and what will come, but that’s about it. Just think of it less as a first issue and more an just another of Ultimate Spider-Man
Overall (Not an Average) 4/10