It’s hard to believe Miles Morales turns just 10 this year, as he’s already become such a fixture in our culture, from movies to video games the of course the comics themselves. Marvel is already set to celebrate in their own way, but what better time than now to catch up on the original Ultimate Universe stories? Marvel has been reprinting Brian Michael Bendis’s epic run in smaller digest-sized editions (read our reviews of volume 1, volume 2, and volume 3), and now the fourth and final chapter is here.
Running 272 pages long, this collection houses Miles Morales: Ultimate Spider-Man #1-12 and is primarily focused on the return of Goblin and another major player. Stop reading here if you don’t want to spoiled!
First and foremost, this book is gorgeous to look at. David Marquez does incredible work here at a time when he wasn’t necessarily known as the triple-A artist we’ve come to know him as. Much of the first portion of the book is about Miles wanting to tell his girlfriend he’s Spider-Man and Ganke totally not being on board for that. Marquez’s art makes these heavy dialogue moments come alive with great detailing in the characters’ faces, particularly their eyes. You feel the stress and anxiety of Miles and the utter disappointment when his girlfriend stomps off. There are epic fight scenes in this book, of course, and Marquez makes those work too. The Spidey costume in particular is super clean and detailed while Goblin’s flaming abilities and hulked-out form look great too.
Props to color artists Justin Ponsor and Jason Keith, who bring a shiny sheen to Miles’ costume that makes it look like a million bucks. There’s a chunk of the story here set at night with fire all around that utilizes some great effects. It’s also a lot of work to color every little bit of floating flame, too. This book looks like a million bucks thanks in no small part to the color artists in many scenes.
This collection juggles mainly two stories. One is the return of Spider-Man, aka Peter Parker. It’s certainly a surprise choice given how much time was spent saying farewell to Spider-Man in this universe and seeing how his family connected with Miles so deeply. One can imagine Bendis wanted Spider-Man to have a happy ending and to let readers know he’s out there somewhere doing superhero things. It does make everything that came before feel a little less impactful, but Peter’s return is also a way to show how Miles is truly worthy of wearing the costume and maybe even surpassed Peter.
The second main thread is Miles’ girlfriend, who is the daughter of Hydra agents. That ends up being the reason she stormed off when Miles tells her he’s Spider-Man, and it’s certainly understandable — her parents literally want to kill her boyfriend. That sentence alone is enough for a casual reader to understand the domestic twist Bendis has thrown Miles into. It’s somewhat silly at times since the Hydra parents are quite dramatic, but it sets in motion a situation for Miles that’s very tricky to get out of.
The parents-as-Hydra-agents storyline leads to the finale of the book in a natural way since Hydra is directly connected to Dr. Doom in the Ultimate Universe. It allows the creative team a chance to bring in a huge supervillain fight to cap things off and further prove how resilient and powerful Miles is. The Hydra element also connects to Miles’s father and a secret past that’s fully revealed too.
Miles Morales: Ultimate End may have different focuses on relationships and villains, but it’s all really about proving how Miles Morales is a true superhero and may have even surpassed Peter Parker. In that way, it’s a satisfying end to cap off the hero’s incredible origin and beginnings. It’s not the end for Miles by any means — he now exists in the main Marvel universe, but it’s cool to read this knowing its creators had no idea how much higher this hero would soar.
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