By: Brian Michael Bendis (Writer), Pepe Larraz (Artist), Justin Ponsor (Colorist), Corey Petit (Letterer)
The Story: Miles Morales proves to Captain America that you don’t need to have passed through puberty to be able to punch Hydra hard in the face.
The Review: I am one happy Ultimate Comics fan right now. To be honest, Bendis’ re-launched Ultimate Spider-Man has never failed to ease a smile onto my bearded mug, but to finally see Miles Morales cut loose on the enemies of America in Divided We Fall/United We Stand has made me happier than a Cat at Christmas (wrapping paper, dangling decorations, leftover turkey – what’s not for a kitty to like?). This issue also sees Captain America shouting, punching and slinging that shield like it’s going out of fashion, so I’m doubly made up!
Following on from last month’s cliff hanger ending, Miles lands atop the Triskelion looking to take his place in the ranks of the Ultimates. Despite Cap’s reservations, it just so happens he’s chosen exactly the right time and place to apply, as Hydra launch an attack which turns into the perfect final entry exam. Much thwipping and quipping ensues in this action-heavy instalment and…well, not much else really. There’s an opening scene where Miles’ father ends up being detained by SHIELD for crossing a roadblock (which I’m guessing is a set up for conflict in future issues) but otherwise this is a straight up case of a superhero team-up. It all flies by in a flurry of broken teeth and explosions and ends by tying in directly to President Cap’s inaugural address from the pages of Ultimate Comics Ultimates #16.
Outside of high-octane thrills, these events serve to establish a new status quo for Spider-Man’s place in the wider continuity, and also act as an enjoyable moment of catharsis in relation to the last few issues’ dialogue-heavy nature. The important thing is that it’s more killer than filler.
On art duties Pepe Larraz (fresh off pencilling the disgracefully fun Night of the Mares storyline in The Mighty Thor) makes his Ultimate Spider-Man debut. As such, the editorial team have wisely chosen an artist who not only maintains the stylistic tone of the title but who also stacks up admirably against series regulars Sara Pichelli and David Marquez – no mean feat. There are a couple of hitches here and there with the feeling that the odd frame of action has gotten lost in between panels, but nothing that breaks the general flow of awesome on display. His Spidey looks wonderfully lithe as he bounces around the battlefield and his Cap cuts an imposing presence as he barks orders and plays Vibranium Pinball with the hordes of Hydra; all during a wonderfully-rendered rainstorm. I’m looking forward to seeing more of Larraz’ work, and I hope the right people are taking notice.
Conclusion: While maybe not setting the world on fire, this issue does an excellent job of depicting the world on fire. And on that front, about time too; four chapters into Divided We Fall/United We Stand and our hero is finally getting his licks in. It’s another highly competent instalment in a series that can do no wrong and proves that Miles Morales still has plenty more to offer to both the Republic and his readership.