“Ultimate Spider-Man” steps up as the second book I read this week with a fill-in artist that transcends what is often a terrible mis-step in a comic by picking an excellent artist in synch with the book’s style, tone and very essence.
In “Ultimate Spider-Man” #6 we see Miles doing legitimate solo crime fighting as he saves a woman being robbed. Things do not go so well (although he is ultimately successful) and it’s clear Miles has a lot to learn. That goes for more than just fighting, as he deals unsuccessfully with the police, reporters, and fans (and non-fans). He’s also learning when to exit before you almost get unmasked in broad daylight.
Brian Michael Bendis has taken his time in developing Miles Morales into (Ultimate) Spider-Man, and while some may complain that the story has been too decompressed, I don’t see how anyone can argue with the result: a wonderfully three-dimensional new superhero. Bendis has crafted one of the best young superhero origin stories I’ve read in years, and though any savvy reader knows the beats that are surely coming, it’s impossible not to care -- to be riveted, in fact -- by Miles’ story.
Chris Samnee’s art in this issue is fantastic. Sara Pichelli has been killing the art on this book, but the embarrassment of riches that is Pichelli as the regular artist and Samnee as a fill-in artist is just staggering. Samnee’s art has the confidence and skill of a regular penciler. He captures all of the nuance of Bendis’ script and all of the subtleties that make these characters great. And while Samnee’s art is less realistic than Pichelli’s, the cartoony aspect gives it an expressive quality that is just lovely. But even with these different styles the tone and spirit of the book is kept wholly intact, which is remarkable. Great color work by Justin Ponsor also helps immensely in maintaining consistency.
Samnee’s action is kinetic and fluid, beautiful and full of energy. Perhaps best of all is that, like Pichelli, Samnee has a great respect for how he renders Miles, never losing sight of the fact that this is a very young kid running around in spandex. The net effect is sublime.
Never did I think I would be so excited about a Spider-Man comic book, but after six months, this is still one of the titles I most look forward to every month. That’s thanks to a perfectly paired creative team delivering an exceptional origin story. This month proves that it’s more than just that; it’s also smart decisions on the part of Marvel, choosing a fill-in artist of Samnee’s caliber and style, making sure that the book doesn’t hit a wrong note at this early point in the book’s run.