I’m pretty sure that the Aunt May and the Gwen Stacy of this Ultimate universe never in their wildest dreams expected to see Peter Parker in the flesh again. And, I’m damn sure that I never in mine expected to enjoy this book as much as I did. I certainly never expected to love it. But I did. Yes, indeed: Spider-Men #4 is a surprise top of the pile for the week of 8/8.
Early on, Pichelli’s powerfully palpable panels–of May’s slapping and felling a stunned Peter on page 2 and of Peter’s apology, culminating in May’s passing out into Gwen’s arms on page 3–anticipate a magically emotional reunion of sorts, effortlessly conveyed through Bendis’s realistic, and often very funny, dialogue.
Speaking of the dialogue: the playful and heartfelt conversation amongst Peter, Gwen, Miles, and, eventually, May, upstairs at May’s house, reminds me of another terrific turn by Bendis: Miles’ conversation with his dad in Ultimate Spider-Man #2. Amazing work. Worthy of a wow. But, wouldn’t you know, while I was reading, I didn’t think Wow. Instead, I just fell into it; in fact, I felt like I was in the room with them: I laughed with them; I wondered with them; I even hugged them.
One of my favorite page turns: the transition from the bottom of page 15–where May says, with Peter in her eyes, “Oh my God, it is you. Look at you.”–to the top of page 16, where Peter and May embrace for the first time. Beautiful stuff. The look on May’s face–a marriage of belief and disbelief, punctuated with a tear of joy–is perfect for the moment. So, too, is Miles’ face, which shows just a smidgen of sadness; which tells a silent truth: that he wishes that he could wear his costume without his mask and hug his father in much the same way.
Another touching–or in this case, not touching–moment is when Peter sees MJ and, on the first panel of page 21, reaches for her in such a manner that he looks like he’s going to shoot a web at her to keep her from getting away. I was so invested in the moment–in the story as a whole–that I wanted him to go ahead and shoot a web at her; I did not want him to let her go. Even as he closed his hand into a fist–effectively surrendering to the fact that this was not his world, not his MJ–I was still rooting for him; and just like that, I was hurting for him as he got into the car–and hurt for MJ, perhaps even more, as Peter headed toward heaven again. I’d say that, like MJ, I was left speechless; but it doesn’t seem that way, does it? I promise: I was.
The book pretty much ended for me there; so I’m going to end my review with this:
In an earlier post, I wrote that this series–as fun as it might be–doesn’t really have much of a point. I was wrong. With issue #4, it’s undeniable: Spider-Men has an exclamation point.