Marvel Comics is in the process of reprinting Brian Michael Bendis and David Marquez’s excellent run on Ultimate Spider-Man featuring Miles Morales in the Spidey costume. The third volume, titled Great Responsibility, is out this week collecting Miles’ return to being Spider-Man after quitting when his mother died in an attack by Venom. She was amazed her boy was Spider-Man as she passed, but Miles hasn’t suited up in a year when this book starts. Collecting Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #23-28 and three issues from the Ultimate event Cataclysm, can Miles find the strength to do the right thing and be the hero we need?
This is yet another example of how Bendis could try new things in comics thanks to the Ultimate line giving him the freedom to do as he liked. Readers are privy to three full issues of Miles not suiting up, which allows the creators to explore his anguish and rejection to the call of being a hero. He’s essentially tasked multiple times to get back with it, but can’t thanks to his strong personality and his still-raw wounds of loving his mother in the line of being a superhero. Gwen Stacy, Spider-Woman, and Gank all try to get him back into it, but he just can’t. This allows Bendis and Marquez to slow-burn roll out a genuine and earned return to the Spider-Man costume.
When he does answer the call it’s a full-on superhero battle involving Cloak, Dagger, Roxxon, and a few other fun twists on familiar characters. One of the joys of this series was always seeing how familiar faces would be twisted to fit into the new narrative and Bendis doesn’t disappoint here. Cloak and Dagger’s designs in themselves are fantastic and fresh, and their ties to a horrible corporation’s desire to profit off the backs of innocents are explored. This dovetails into Cataclysm, which is tricky to dive into here since the book only contains the Spider-Man tie-in issues, but you get the gist of the scale of Galactus’s attack. Bendis writes fantastic Avengers characters with plenty of fun humor added in.
Wrapping up this book is Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #200 which features Marquez on the main art and Mark Bagley and Andrew Hennessy on cool full-page splashes honoring the Spider-Man character. This issue centers on celebration of Peter Parker at Aunt May’s house. Every character that mattered in Bendis’ run shows up from Kitty Pryde to Gwen Stacy, and it’s a great way to honor not only his run on Ultimate Spider-Man but the character itself. Some of the montages have characters only seen in the Ultimat eComics line, but it still serves as a great reminder of how great this character is no matter the universe.
The biggest problem with picking this up blind is Cataclysm, which doesn’t read so well without the main event. It’s a sliver of a bigger story and is sort of just dropped in here. If you’ve read this series in full you might also ponder how impactful it is that Miles’ mom is dead, especially if you’ve read his 616 appearances and know the family is all safe and alive.
A great third volume in the Miles Morales saga, perfect for smaller hands thanks to the digest size.