Pick of the Week

August 8, 2012 – Spider-Men #4

What did the
community think?

Avg Rating: 4.7
iFanboy Community Pick of the Week Percentage: 36.9%
Users who pulled this comic:
Story by Brian Michael Bendis
Art by Sara Pichelli
Cover by Jim Cheung, Mike Deodato, & Sara Pichelli

Size: 32 pages
Price: 3.99

There are some very specific reasons to engage in a multiversal crossover. When you take a character from one universe and bring them into another one, you do so specifically so you can have certain scenes and certain interactions take place. That is especially true in comic books. You don’t bring Spider-Man from the 616 Marvel Universe over to the Ultimate Marvel Universe just so he can fight Mysterio or some other baddie. He can do that whenever he wants in a multitude of titles.

No, you bring 616 Marvel Universe Spider-Man over to the Ultimate Marvel Universe specifically so that you can have the scenes that make up the bulk of Spider-Men #4.

When last we left Peter Parker he had his little chat with Ultimate Nick Fury, hung out a bit with Miles Morales, and found out that his Ultimate counterpart had died. Peter had accepted that he was in an alternate universe. Spider-Men #3 ended with Peter appearing in front of Ultimate Aunt May’s house, startling the bejesus out of her and Ultimate Gwen Stacy. It was a great cliff-hanger because for three issues just about everyone reading Spider-Men wanted to know: when was Peter going to run into his Ultimate friends and family and what was going to happen when he does?

As it turns out, when he does run into his Ultimate friends and family, there’s a lot of slapping and kicking and fainting and crying and hugging and laughing and thwiping. And secrets.

The main sequence in this issue takes place in the Ultimate Aunt May’s living room, as Peter and Miles Morales, and Ultimate Gwen Stacy babble on with each other about the similarities and differences in each other’s universes. Ultimate Peter used to have a serious thing with Ultimate Kitty Pryde! Regular Mary Jane Watson is a supermodel! Uncle Ben inspired both Peter and Ultimate Peter! It’s funny and cute but at the same time there’s an underlying twinge or immense sadness that runs throughout. These are people that loved Ultimate Peter Parker deeply and his loss is a heavy burden. At the same time, Ultimate Gwen Stacy is desperate to know what the grown up version of herself is like in Peter’s universe. Peter deftly deflects those questions, but you know it has to be a stab in the heart each time she asks (not to mention just being in the room with her — he has to be not only elated to see her again but also dying a little inside every time she smiles).

That sequence was handled wonderfully by writer Brian Michael Bendis. Not that it was much of a surprise, this is the man who built Ultimate Spider-Man and his world and friends and family and allies and villains into one of the most rich and emotionally complex corners in all of superhero comics. We’ve been following some of these characters for 12 years now and to watch Ultimate Peter and Ultimate Aunt May and Ultimate Gwen Stacy grow into this tight family unit, and then witness Ultimate Peter get torn away from them in one final act of heroism, and then to see this new, older Peter Parker appear and see the emotional catharsis for Ultimate Aunt May and Ultimate Gwen Stacy was just so satisfying.

(That’s not even to mention the heartbreaking moment between Ultimate Mary Jane Watson and Peter.)

Artist Sara Pichelli is greatly missed over on Ultimate Comics (All New) Spider-Man but if this story is why she has to go away for a while then that’s perfectly fine. As much as Brian Michael Bendis’ script packs a passel of emotional punches, Sara Pichelli is the one who brings it all to life with an expert hand. From the shocked looks on Ultimate Aunt May and Ultimate Gwen Stacy’s faces when they first see Peter, to the look of embarrassment and sadness on Miles Morales’ face when he has to tell everyone that their time together is over, there are entire emotional journeys being told just in these characters’ facial expressions. And one of my favorite things about this issue doesn’t exist in the dialogue at all, it’s told almost completely in the art alone: from toying with the hem of her skirt to nervously biting her fingernails and playfully punching him in the arm, it would appear that Ultimate Gwen Stacy has a little bit of a crush on grown up Peter Parker. Sara Pichelli has been one of the most exciting new artists to come along in the last few years and her skills are on full display in this issue and in this series.

But for all the crying and laughter there is still the problem of Peter being stuck in the Ultimate Marvel Universe and Mysterio being on the loose and so there is still some superheroing to be done! Peter has a funny meeting with a drunken Ultimate Tony Stark (“My you stopped drinking a while back.”) as they two of them plus Ultimate Nick Fury and Miles Morales try to figure out how to find Mysterio and get Peter home. Once they locate Mysterio, the issue ends with a fantastic full page shot of Spider-Man swinging off into battle alongside Ultimate Spider-Man, Ultimate Iron Man, and Ultimate Thor. If one of the specific reasons to do a crossover like this is to put Peter and Ultimate Aunt May and Ultimate Gwen Stacy in a room together, then the other reason is to have Spider-Man fight alongside his Ultimate counterpart and the Ultimate counterparts of his friends and allies.

If you’re going to do a multiversal crossover like this, then Spider-Men #4 is why you do it. For all the ickiness of the initial announcement (“They’re going to do what?”) it was all worth it when Peter and Ultimate Aunt May shared a tearful hug.

Conor Kilpatrick
I’m not sure what the heck that cover is about, though.


  1. Couldn’t agree more Conor. This book had such an emotional resonance that I actually paused a few times to extend the experience. I could read stories like that one daily, this was crafted in such a manner that it warrants the pick. I look forward to the recording Sunday.

  2. Ya this was my POTW as well which was a huge surprise for me since the only reason i stuck around from a rather slow and uneventful story so far was for the art and the cliffhanger at the end of Last issue. Glad i did though this issue paid off in a big way

  3. Just read this and it is my favorite thing from Bendis in a long time. Pichelli’s art is awesome. Great mini series!!

  4. This mini-series has gotten better with every issue. It’s made me realize how much I miss having a Spider-man book to read every month. I had dropped Amazing because Dan Slott’s style is not for me and I just wasn’t enjoying the new Ultimate Spider-man as it was very drawn out. I’ll probably still stay away from Amazing but I may have to give Ultimate Spider-man another chance. Whatever the case this was a great issue.

  5. This has gotten better and better, but it’s kinda been a slow burn, until this issue, anyway.

    They’re going to have to pack a lot into the final issue, aren’t they? I mean, unless they plan for Ultimate Mysterio to wreak havoc for a while in the 616.

  6. Totally agree with you, except Pinchelli’s artwork seemed a bit off to me. The faces kinda looked lumpy and inhuman. Still, fantastic writing with Bendis doing what he do best and, for the most part, Pinchelli brought her A-game. Love this stuff.

  7. This was really good and i’m glad it was spent with the characters catching up with their worlds. Been a fun series so far, but there is a lot to wrap up in the last issue.

  8. I hope Bendis brings the same quality to All New X-Men

  9. Yes!

  10. A fantastic issue but if I had to pick just one panel, it would be of May Parker watching Peter leave and saying to herself “I made the right choices.” The way Pichelli drew that panel…. no fooling, it gets me choked up just thinking about it.

  11. Pichelli/Ponsor absolutely NAILED that teary-eyed hug with May and Peter. Good review, Conor.

  12. I really regret not picking this up from the beginning (I had too many books to buy that week issue 1 was out). I’ll definitely pick this up in trade, I think its out in October so not too long to go.

  13. I almost shed real tears. I think if Peter would have told Gwen the one thing he didn’t I would have lost it.

  14. Good review. This was a very good issue. However, there is no such word as “multiversal.”

  15. Did they accidentally switch the issue 4 and issue 5 cover? Nothing even remotely close to that happened in the issue…. even metaphorically. But I suppose a cover of three people on a couch drinking coffee isn’t very eye grabbing.

  16. Remember a while back the guys did a show on comics that made you cry?

    I had never read a comic that made me cry. Until now, oh man I was in bits! that was one of the best, saddest, most hopeful and touching comics I have read in a long time. maybe ever.
    I really want to go back and read the full Ultimate Spider-man again.

    I don’t know maybe I’m gushing a bit to much. But I don’t care.

  17. Man, I love Miles, but do I ever miss Ultimate Peter. I gotta thank Marvel and Bendis for making me really feel for these characters. This issue was perfect.

    • Man I totally second that opinion. Nothing against Miles because there’s been some great stories…but I really miss Ultimate Peter. I just like him more than normal Marvel U Peter. I wouldn’t even mind some contrived story just to bring him back…because I think there are probably a ton of good stories that still need to be told with him!

  18. I didn’t read this, but I’m glad to see folks enjoyed the heck out of it. My pick was easily Godzilla: The Half Century War. One of the most fun comics I’ve read in a long time, and James Stokoe is just unbelievable. This is going to be a special series for sure.

  19. I read this it was touching and well done, but HOW IN THE WORLD is Venom #22 not your POTW? Must of not of read it. Gonna miss Remender on this title.

  20. I loved this issue also! I went right back and reread the first three issues, and it’s been a fun ride. I liked New Avengers too, just a heavy convo about the state of the marvel universe starring the “leaders”, I liked it. I haven’t read much as yet, but those two were fun.

    And hell you’re right…that Spidermen cover makes no sense!

  21. Agree 100%, Conor. When they initially announced the series, I was too worried the series wouldn’t have these specific moments, and could not be happier that Bendis provided all of them. I still think there has to be one remaining with MJ after this battle but before Pete goes back, but even if there isn’t, this was an issue I as a reader of U S-M (from the beginning) wanted, needed, and could not be more pleased with.

  22. Keeping things small allows us to relate to them in a big way. This is why AvX means nothing and books like this affect us.

  23. Great review Conor, and I agree with 100% of what you wrote. This issue is exactly why crossovers like this should happen – and Bendis knocked it out of the park. I’ve been liking this mini so much! Actually, I like it way more than any of the standard Miles Morales USM stories thus far.

    What I don’t agree with was the sentiment from the POTW podcast expressing that this crossover simply should’ve been part of the current USM run. My argument would be that this mini is more about 616 Peter Parker, and his perceptions/experiences, than it is about Miles.

    I can’t wait for SPIDER-MEN #5! It’s so much fun to like Bendis again!

  24. The appeal of this series escapes me – people who just need a downer or something? What’s the point, really?

    • The appeal of this series is the appeal of reading these comics: to follow these characters in their lives. This series in particular is the culmination of a decade plus of theses characters’ relationships. It’s an emotional release.

    • That’s cool – I guess it’s just for Ultimate Spider Man fans, which I am not. It just seems a bit…superfluous. I can’t imagine buying this just to see old Peter Parker from another universe show up and get all weepy about another Peter Parker. But, hey, that’s comics, people!

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