“Ultimate Fallout” is a weekly series meant to act as an epilogue to the “Death of Spider-Man” story that ran through both “Ultimate Spider-Man” and “Ultimate Avengers vs. New Ultimates.” It's also a prologue to the relaunch of the Ultimate line under Brian Michael Bendis, Jonathan Hickman, and Nick Spencer. But, before it can focus on the latter, it has the former to attend to. The first issue is not much more than a reaction to the death of Peter Parker, and it’s surprisingly touching how everyone who knew him reacts differently. Bendis and Mark Bagley deliver an emotionally-driven issue that is a good follow-up to the death of Spider-Man.
The issue takes the structure of jumping from character to character, showing how each is reacting to Peter’s death. Some blame themselves, others blame criminals and Nick Fury, others are just angry, others confused, and so on. The wide amount of reactions act to represent what the larger world is feeling. Some of the reactions are surprising, like Kitty Pryde’s almost vicious anger, while others aren’t surprising at all, like J. Jonah Jameson struggling with the fact that he didn’t know Peter was Spider-Man and what that may mean to his public image.
What’s most gratifying, and surprising, about the comic is how it allows people to finally pay tribute to Spider-Man in a way that we haven’t seen before. His stories always focus on him as an outcast or menace or misunderstood hero; a story where an entire city mourns his loss and honors him is a little stunning. It’s hard not to see this as something that extends beyond the Ultimate version of the character.
While the way that the aftermath of Peter’s death is handled is good, the format of the comic hurts the final product. So much of the issue is taken up showing the reactions of characters that, when the plot actually begins, it ends almost right away. Already, it seems like the ‘fallout’ to “The Death of Spider-Man” should have been a standalone comic with the space to tell a complete story rather than merely two or three issues of a mini-series with a larger purpose. The weekly schedule will help, but the end of this issue comes at a bad time and leaves a feeling of incompleteness rather than teasing or wanting to read more.
Just like no one but Brian Michael Bendis could have written this comic, it’s hard to imagine anyone but Mark Bagley drawing it. He helped define so many of these characters with Bendis that it wouldn’t feel as emotionally satisfying if someone else drew it. He produces a few truly great moments like Jameson’s uneasy looking to the side as he begins to type, or the look of gratitude and hope on a little girl’s face as she tells May how Spider-Man once saved her from a fire before May almost breaks down at the offer of a hug.
As a single comic, “Ultimate Fallout” #1 feels incomplete and ill-suited to the format it has been placed in. Nonetheless, what happens in this issue is some strong character work and storytelling as those that loved and knew Peter Parker react to his death. Thankfully, we won’t have to wait long for the rest of this story with issue two shipping next week.