A few days ago, Marvel (officially) announced Spider-Men, a five-part crossover series set to debut this June. As the name suggests, the House of Ideas is bringing Peter Parker – the standard Marvel Universe’s Spider-Man – together with Miles Morales, the new Spider-Man in Marvel’s Ultimate Universe. This historic event will be penned by Marvel Golden Boy, Mr. Brian Michael Bendis, with artwork from fan favorite Sara Pichelli.
Some quick history: Marvel began it’s Ultimate line of comics – with Ultimate Spider-Man in 2000 – as a way to introduce a new generation of readers to classic Marvel characters without being bogged down by decades of continuity. When I first began reading Ultimate Marvel comics, the first trade paperbacks for Ultimate Spider-Man and Ultimate X-Men had already been released. I bought them both and sunk myself into this new line full of reimagined characters with histories I was experiencing firsthand, not reading about on Wikipedia or ComicVine. Marvel eventually expanded the line to include the Fantastic Four, the Avengers (dubbed ‘The Ultimates’), along with appearances throughout the line from fan favorites like Daredevil, Blade, Hawkeye, and many more.
In 2008 and 2009, Marvel squandered the Ultimate universe with Ultimatum, the line’s first mega-crossover that incorporated a five-issue limited series, all three ongoing series, and aftermath issues that led into a soft relaunch of Ultimate Marvel. Ultimatum totally changed the status quo by killing off 75% of the characters that writers has literally just spent years cultivating. I’m not talking about Banshee or Armor. Beast, Daredevil, Nightcrawler, Psylocke, and Dazzler all die in the initial tidal wave caused by Magneto. And that’s just in the first issue! By the end of the series, Cyclops is dead, along with Professor Xavier, Emma Frost, Doctor Strange, Hank Pym, Polaris, Thor, Wasp and Wolverine. Basically, in an attempt to ‘reset’ the Ultimate line without totally relaunching, the writers cut the balls off a once-awesome-yet-slightly-waning line of comics. I’ll be the last to say that making the mutant race a side effect of bio-chemical experiments is pretty lame, but at least it was something different.
After a chaotic and somewhat convoluted year of Ultimate Comic titles, Marvel once again hit the reset button by offering “The Death of Spider-Man”, the second crossover event for the Ultimate universe that led up to Peter Parker’s death at the tender age of 16. The aftermath of Peter’s death is chronicled in Ultimate Fallout, which led directly into the second relaunch for the Ultimate universe. This time, instead of making it bigger, Marvel opted to trim down the line into three ongoing series and one mini-series. Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man (Vol. 2) introduces Miles Morales, the new boy who does whatever a spider can.
While crossovers with other universes has been done in the past (see Ultimate Fantastic Four, “Frightful” arc, Ultimate Power), Spider-Men marks the first time the Ultimate universe will intersect with Earth-616. Miles Morales has enough trouble living in Peter Parker’s shadow without his adult self butting in! When Peter Parker arrives in the Ultimate universe only to find that the alternate, teenaged version of himself is dead, revelations are made that will rock the Ultimate universe! Stay tuned to “The Endless Reel” for our second Marvel event coverage of Spider-Men, starting this June.