"Ultimate Spider-Man" #1 isn't a reboot so don't fret. This free comic is actually an adaptation of the brand new cartoon, "Ultimate Spider-Man," now airing on Disney XD. Based on this free issue, the show is going to be good and offer us some very new and cool things, but it does not make a very good comic. At least, not in the way this one is put together. Luckily, it's not going to be a comic -- this sampler is simply something nice and free Marvel threw together to entice fans to check out the show. In this regard, it is a success.
Most people don't need to see another new version of the same old origin story. We've read the comics, seen the movie, watched the many cartoons that came before or are waiting for the new movie to remake the old one. While the origin is told again here to some degree, it also twists enough that by the final page you can see this show is going to be different. The simple addition of one character not only expands the show's scope but it also triples the cool factor and narrative possibilities while tying this cartoon in with the Marvel movie universe. Whoever decided the new Spidey cartoon for kids needs more Nick Fury was a genius.
That's the biggest problem with this comic. The story is good but the delivery method is decidedly lacking at times. It seems as though Marvel assembled this comic by gathering still images from the show, which only sporadically works. The overall result is a staccato feeling that doesn't allow flow. At times, it's good and mostly works but it isn't the future of comics, that much is certain. The art style is too clean and obviously isn't created to have one image contain multiple meanings. These images are meant to be one of many and so the pacing and style isn't all there. The pages weren't created in the way artists normally draw them, but are more reminiscent of a fumetti-style story that only does the necessary.
We are given a relatively reliable snapshot into how "Ultimate Spider-Man" feels. The cartoon looks like it will have witty asides and dynamic ways of introducing the characters as we progress through this new story. Everyone gets a little moment for us to see who they are combined with a tight, relatively untaxing, little superhero plot while also setting up all we need to know. Extra marks for including Klaw as one of the villains.
There are some plot contrivances and Peter Parker isn't as funny as he should be, but minor quibbles aside this is a very solid introduction to the character and world around him. You have to understand and even hope this will be some person's first exposure to Spider-Man. In that respect, this is a wonderful lure of a tale that opens up right at the end and promises so much more.
"Ultimate Spider-Man" #1 is a comic that works very hard to point you toward an even better cartoon show. There is fun to be had in this comic but only if you internally extrapolate the show you could be watching. As a comic alone, this issue would not stand on its own two feet very well. However, it is free so you certainly get your money's worth.