Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Art: Marco Checchetto
Colors: Matthew Wilson
Letters: Vc Cory Petit
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reboots and comics pretty much go hand-in-hand. No matter the publisher, you bet there is some sort of hard or soft reboot to some of its main characters. These continual reboots are often met with uneven reception. Between being a parallel or pocket universe or simply turning beloved heroes into villains has become rote. Ultimate Spider-Man exceeds apprehension falsely placed on it due to past stories from other books.
Ultimate Spider-Man represents more of a different avenue vs a full-on departure from source material. Jonathan Hickman didn’t simply make beloved characters like Uncle Ben evil, nor did they make a formerly bad guy (like Wilson Fisk) good. What they did do, is distill a “What if” scenario across Peter Parker’s entire universe.
One simple premise we’ve all thought about at one point or another, what if Peter was never bitten by a Radioactive spider? I’ve countlessly pondered this question, but Hickman touched deeply on things I didn’t. How him not being bitten would affect those closest to him. How would this change his relationship with MJ, Aunt May, Uncle Ben and J. Jonah Jameson. Or, even more so, how would their worlds change in the Ultimate Universe?
Hickman did a masterful job of laying out the main characters in one single issue. There is little action, but I think that was done to allow everything else to breathe. We learn that Uncle Ben is alive and well, and actually is close with Jameson as a co-worker and friend. It’s the buddy-teamup I never knew I wanted. They shared a connection that often isn’t touched upon in much of media. Two older men working together and sharing life experiences. Through events in the story where it is Aunt May that dies, this gives Peter a unique experience in already being grown up, but taking wisdom and life lessons from Uncle Ben. It’s a heart wrenching timeline, one of which has certainly shaped Peter.
This Peter is reserved yet seasoned and thoughtful. We are so used to seeing a young Peter, that this issue allows for “family-man” Peter.
Most of the first issue is about the interpersonal relationships in which Peter has with his family, but threads are also pulled that were necessary to unravel what is to come. Namely, Tony Stark (Tony’s son) sends a message to Peter from six months into the future. His message lays out what he was destined to become, and the choice he now has to make. The flashback scenes where Ben says “then wake up” (in relation to him being suck), and MJ’s “go get ‘em tiger,” tug at the heartstrings. Peter knowingly doing what is right, will drastically alter his life…with everyone.
Hickman’s story is perfectly paired with Marco Checchetto’s pencils, Matthew Wilson’s art and Vc Cory Petit’s layouts. There is just something so dynamic about the entire package. All the characters are effortlessly dynamic and pop out of the page. I think a lot of this is due to the wrinkles and scratchiness across all the character’s skin. The color palette throughout and the use of black in-between panels makes everything feel more emotional than I thought it would’ve been had the spacing been in white.
I have always been an on-and-off Spidey comic reader. What Ultimate Spider-Man #1 does is quickly push the story far enough for Spider-Man in one issue, by laying out the impact it will have on Peter Parker.
You can pick up Ultimate Spider-Man #2 on February 21, 2024.