My emotions!! MY EMOOOOOTIONS!!! These past three issues are going to go down in history as profoundly interesting. On the one hand, they’re easily the least “significant” in terms of what’s being done about the new, ultra-powered Galactus seeing as how...somehow I don’t think the ol’ “webbing in his eyes” trick is going to quite be enough against a limitlessly powerful cosmic destroyer. But on the other hand, it’s easily the most character-driven and tragic, giving us the most emotional resonance in what is a massive, world-spanning event. And that may be worth more than all the stirring speeches and lantern-jawed posturing in the Ultimates-verse. Miles Morales’ journey to fill the shoes of Peter Parker has been one of the most absolutely fascinating to watch in all of comic books as he grapples with his father’s hatred of superhumans, specifically mutants, as well as his own guilt over what his powers have brought him and how best to use them. It’s a classic Spider-Man arc, but with enough differences both subtle and overt that it feels completely fresh. Brian Bendis does an amazing job of showing us both the desperation that Miles has to do as much good as he possibly can, even in the face of the literal world’s end, but also being pulled in so many different directions and being unable to do everything he wishes he could. He also writes the supporting cast with interesting and unique voices all their own, keeping every character distinct.
David Marquez...whew, what more needs to be said? The visuals on this book are stunning and heart-wrenching, capturing the grand, terrifying scale of Galactus and every bit of tumult, anger and rage that’s going on on the ground while the world crumbles. The level of detail he provides is nothing short of stunning and the fact that the book hasn’t been delayed nor the quality waned is a testament to an incredible talent. The facial expression of “lips upturned sardonically” is oddly specific, but one of the expressions he nails with absolute perfection. Justin Ponsor provides his beautiful, evocative colors to the art, showing an amazing eye for establishing this book’s surprisingly complex voice. The darkness and destruction around Galactus and the grasping, desperate hope around Spidey, it’s all here and it’s all gorgeous.
This title is spinning its wheels a bit and it’s especially visible in this particular issue. All three issues have had very similar beats and moments with different characters, though with steadily increasing urgency and intensity. It definitely feels like this wouldn’t be its own title if not for the event, and could have continued as Ultimate Spider-Man.
I’m beginning to wonder if solicits are actually LESS useful than covers to get a peek at what’s happening on the pages inside. We don’t know what Miles’ fate will be in the future and very few questions are answered, with absolutely nothing resolved, and while we get a tease of Cataclysm’s core title, I would have liked some closure on any of the characters in this title. By the end, at least one major one is in the wind and most of the supporting cast is in a similar stopgap state. I understand the necessities of a title like this, but ANY kind of closure, even on a smaller scale, would have been nice.
The level of emotion this book brings to the table is not to be underestimated in terms of superhero books, or in fact ANY kind of genre in the comics medium. This is as much a book about its characters and their development as it is about the world ending, and the title absolutely delivers on that front. Watching Spider-Man still so determined to help people despite everything falling down around him, despite his own personal issues, despite EVERYthing feels absolutely like picking up a Spidey comic and realizing EXACTLY what the character is all about for the first time. He’s about helping people, no matter what the future is hurling at him and this issue communicates that amazingly.