With Zeb Wells’ Amazing Spider-Man not being something that I’ve clicked with its been almost two years since I last read an ongoing Spider-Man title. Nothing Marvel has done with Spider-Man has made the franchise all that appealing. That immediately changed when Marvel announced the dream creative team of Jonathan Hickman and Marco Checchetto for the new Ultimate Spider-Man series. The fact that Hickman and Checchetto are going to develop their own Spider-Man continuity is a cherry on top for this series. Let’s see how things begin with Ultimate Spider-Man #1
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Marco Checchetto
Colorist: Matthew Wilson
Letterer: Cory Petit
“THE NEW ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN FOR A NEW ULTIMATE UNIVERSE! Revolutionary writer Jonathan Hickman and acclaimed artist Marco Checchetto (DAREDEVIL) bring you a bold new take on Spider-Man, with the debut title of the new line of Ultimate Comics! After the events of ULTIMATE INVASION, the world needs a hero…who will rise up to take on that responsibility? Prepare to be entangled in a web of mystery and excitement as the all-new ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN comic redefines the wall-crawler for the 21st Century!” – Marvel Comics
With the countless times Spider-Man’s origin story has been retold or repackaged as part of the Spider-Verse it’s almost impossible to do something that feels new with the character. But that is exactly what Jonathan Hickman and Marco Checchetto accomplish with Ultimate Spider-Man #1. They take the essence of why fans love Spider-Man and create something new and fresh.
Immediately treating this with respect to the reader that they will get picking up a series where mid-30s Peter Parker has a career and family life is refreshing. At no point does it come across as Hickman and Checchetto guiding us through this new Ultimate Universe version of the character. We are jumping in at a point where we are seeing Peter, MJ, Uncle Ben, and the Ultimate Universe living their lives. It is an organic way to build this Spider-Man world without feeling like we are reading an origin story.
Hickman and Checchetto do a great job at drawing on the readers emotions of seeing Peter and MJ married with young children. As an example of organic storytelling, they give something many Spider-Man have wanted for a long time without making it fanservice. This is simply life for Peter and MJ as they juggle being married, having kids, and their respective careers. There isn’t this big call of attention to the status quo. You buy into them and their world because all their interactions feel normal.
Having that buy in makes the other big changes in Ultimate Spider-Man all be things you just go with the flow of the story. The biggest example of this is not only Uncle Ben being alive but also working as the Managing Editor at the Daily Bugle and being best friends with J. Jonah Jameson. There is a moment where you do stop because of this surprise reveal. That shock quickly goes away thanks to the way Hickman writes Ben and Jonah’s relationship to be a genuine friendship.
In establishing Ben and Jonah’s friendship we do see how that impacts a lot of the career side of things this issue juggles. Hickman ends up utilizing Ben and Jonah to drive some real-world elements of publishers being bought by big investors and how that impacts the direction of the publication. These real-world elements help ground the story while providing an opportunity to introduce familiar characters like Robbie Robertson and Wilson Fisk in a different light.
Establishing this foundation early on makes how Ultimate Spider-Man #1 goes about tackling the bigger ramifications from the end of Ultimate Universe one-shot well done. The vigil for those killed by The Maker’s council, which included May Parker and Norman and Emily Osborn, helped give further insight into the continuity of the Ultimate Universe. Hickman plays it right to give details as part of the natural pace of how the scenes play out.
The changes, including Peter’s parents dying when he was 15 years old rather than when he was a young kid adds to this being a new universe. This along with other changes like Harry Osborn not being a friend to Peter and MJ and Ultimate Matt Murdock being a priest were all treated as part of the continuity of this universe. These and other things weren’t there to surprise the reader.
All of this world building plays well into the reveal of why throughout Ultimate Spider-Man #1 Peter appears off. The revelation that Peter has been feeling that there is something missing from his life played into the greater plot of The Maker changing so many people’s destinies. Hickman introduces the idea of how people like Peter who were destined to be heroes or something else will feel their destinies were forcibly changed. Checchetto enhances all of this with the excellent facial reactions he draws Peter have in all his scenes to display this to the reader.
Peter feeling this way provided Hickman and Checchetto the opportunity to show the reader the strength of his and MJ’s relationship. Peter feels the way he does isn’t because his marriage has hit a rough spot or they are struggling with money. MJ being there to support Peter and him showing his appreciation for it helped with further grounding the big decision Peter makes. Now that Peter embraces his destiny in becoming Spider-Man there are a lot of intriguing things to see come out of this.
Ultimate Spider-Man #1 delivers on the exact promise that comes with the Ultimate Universe. It’s a fresh start for both the characters and readers. Jonathan Hickman and Marco Checchetto do a lot of excellent character work for Peter Parker and his cast to create this whole new world. In it you are left feeling that Ultimate Spider-Man is a series rich with potential that the creative team will be tapping into. It’s an accomplishment that makes Ultimate Spider-Man #1 must-read.
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10