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Miles Morales: Ultimate Spider-Man #7 – REVIEW

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From the beginning, Miles Morales: Ultimate Spider-Man wasted no time establishing an almost overwhelming number of plot threads. The series has been a pretty ambitious effort that’s enjoyed great success to date. While the biggest questions (the return of Peter Parker and Norman Osborn) have taken center stage so far, the characters of Jefferson, the Spider-Twins, and Katie have been carefully acknowledged along the way so that we wouldn’t lose sight of their importance. With Peter and Norman’s stories colliding in an explosive battle, issue #7 had to pivot from that point in the action to keep things moving in an interesting direction. In doing so, it stumbles but still manages to pick itself up toward the end and finish strong.

mm7-6Having already seen two exciting knock-down drag-out battles between the Goblin and Spider-Man (Men), I ended up feeling underwhelmed by seeing the action resume again so quickly. It seemed like we were going to get some new information about Jefferson, but Norman ends up ranting and the Spider-Men put him down again… and then again. I never thought I’d say this for a book by this creative team, but the action sequence that opens the issue ended up feeling boring. Don’t get me wrong, it was beautifully rendered with dynamic poses and fiery dramatic colors (not to mention some satisfying trash talk). Unfortunately, this felt like “more of the same” after the intensity of the previous issue. The  fight in issue #6 felt like it ended on a dramatic note, so it was disappointing to see it dragged out here as Round 2.5 and do very little to advance the story.

I also had some trouble following the sequencing of a double-page spread in which the Goblin suddenly springs into an attack (apparently transforming while I was turning the page). It wasn’t immediately clear from the panel layout that he was turning his attention toward different targets. The pacing seemed off as the fight suddenly stopped without warning. Even Peter seemed a bit confused. Maria takes it upon herself to brutally dispatch Norman, but who can really take that seriously at this point?

It’s not all rock-’em sock-’em action in this issue, as Peter’s story is seemingly brought to a wonderfully poignant close. One of the Ultimate Universe’s many strengths is that the emotional connection between Peter Parker and Mary Jane was allowed to progress naturally with a very believable series of ups and downs. There were no deals with the Devil or other editorial contrivances to undo their carefully written relationship. Now it seems they have a second chance at happiness. Re-reading this run to date, Mary Jane’s body language reveals that she and Peter had made their decision the moment they were reunited. Their final scene in this issue is beautiful in every respect and it’s moving to see this version of Peter Parker find the happy ending that he deserves.

Having survived his recent battle (and unmasked, at that!), Miles is at last validated by his predecessor as the Spider-Man.  All of the concerns I’d had about Peter’s return and its impact on Miles as a character went out the window once I saw the straight-out-of-the-movies hero shot of Miles swinging by the Brooklyn Bridge.

mm7-3There’s even time for things to get dark, as we discover the meaning behind Marquez and Ponsor’s sinister cover portrait of Katie. As with every other cover in this series to date, the creative team use this space to tell a whole story all by itself – especially noteworthy here as issue #7 is the first cover that doesn’t feature Miles. It’s been established that Katie Bishop has a secret that spells bad news for her boyfriend, or rather it does now that she knows he’s Spider-Man. Marquez and Ponsor depict Katie having patiently allowed a spider the time to weave its intricate web between her fingers. The spider was so focused on its work that it had no idea that it literally played right into her hands. It’s unaware that it’s completely at her mercy. We finally learn what has Katie so conflicted (and why she’s terrified about her parents learning about Miles). I won’t spoil it here, but I’ll say that Ponsor’s colors playfully foreshadow the answer when Mr. and Mrs. Bishop say good night.

The final moments of the issue see the long-awaited return of a key character and promises that the next issue will place “All The Cards On All The Tables.” Bendis has done an outstanding job of weaving together an interesting range of characters and plot ideas. Here’s hoping that this complex web continues to hold together as we head toward those answers in issue #8.

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