Peter Parker aka Spider-Man is on a late night patrol in New York City. He notices a huge bright light, then goes off to investigate. This leads him into a battle with Mysterio and when it's over Spider-Man notices it's suddenly day time. After further examining his surroundings he runs into another, younger Spider-Man, who even knows who he is under the mask. And not just him either, random civilians know he's Peter Parker. What is going on here? And why is Nick Fury black, when Spider-Man knows he's white? -summary
No holding back here folks, I'll come right out and say that Spider-Men isn't only hands down the best crossover in 2012, leaps and bounds above Avengers vs. X-Men. It's the best crossover I read in years, and the best comic I read this year. I'm glad Marvel didn't introduce this concept years ago because it never would have achieved the same effect. Written by Brian Michael Bendis who not only penned Avengers: Disassembled and House of M, but also delivered the epic Ultimate Spider-Man line. Spider-Men is a five issue crossover that brings Spider-Man of Earth 616, that's main Marvel continuity, together with Miles Morales aka Spider-Man of the Ultimate Marvel Universe. This is real comic book fun here.
Now first of all I must bring some people up to speed. Peter Parker of the Ultimate Universe died in battle with the Green Goblin in Ultimate Spider-Man, and as a result, Miles Morales who also ended up getting spider-like powers picked up the mantle. There's something that must be said in regards to Ultimate Marvel. We all know that in the world of comics characters do not stay dead, however, this is not the case with the Ultimate Universe. Marvel stated when a character dies there, they are gone for good, and despite some mild tinkering they have lived up to that claim, therefore, Miles Morales is most likely here to stay and Parker is gone.
Brian Michael Bendis proves with this story why he's considered among the best comic writers in the business. Everything about his approach is masterfully done. As soon as the two Spider-Men meet it's instant magic. Parker has a hard time dealing with this world, and Morales can't get over his shock that he's even alive. The story never loses its focus and it slowly continues to build into something special. Parker soon meets Nick Fury and that worlds Avengers called the Ultimates, but nothing seems to prepare him for the news of his teenage death. Which forces him to seek out that worlds May Parker.
The character interactions are very strong here, but it's when Peter meets a still grieving Aunt May and Gwen Stacy that the story really shines. His very presence is such a shock to them, and it appears that he causes them more damage. Instead, he nurses their grief and helps in their healing, and this is just one of the books feel good moments. The character development, drama, and suspense easily overshadow the action, and I really wanted Peter to explore this new world even more. His interactions with Miles are done very well too, but there was definitely potential to go even further. Mysterio is actually overlooked here by fans I spoke with on this book, which I think is a shame. This is the story that could easily propel him to the status of major threat, simply because he was able to crack these two dimensions with tech that was alien to Tony Stark. Bendis also as always, shows his mastery with dialog especially when it comes down to Spider-Man. It's crystal clear Spider-Man is one of his favorite characters, as he hits with some of the best lines for comedy gold almost every time.
Italian artist Sara Pichelli is definitely among the best new pencilers out there. Her artwork is flawless with some of the cleanest lines, detailed backgrounds, and character designs. The characters have some of the best life like expressions. One moment that stands out, is when Peter tells the teenage Gwen Stacy that Mary Jane grew up to be a model in his world. The raised eyebrow of shock probably couldn't have been drawn better. And now since this is Mysterio the Spider-Men are facing, the Master of Illusion himself, then you can expect a who's who list of villains with plenty of action. The panels are done very well and they're easy to follow. I really can't think of anything bad to say here.
Marvel has a savage reputation of milking their crossovers to drain your pockets. Therefore, I'm so grateful that they were able to keep this one short at only five issues, cover so much ground here, and leave an opening for this concept to be expanded on. And here's something else to ponder, had Marvel done this exact crossover years ago with the Ultimate Peter Parker. How do you think it would've turned out? I personally think two Peter Parker's wouldn't have been half as interesting, since it was already done before in the Clone Saga. It would've came off cheap, lazy, and just way too gimmicky. These two Spider-Men are quite different, yet the same as well. Their meeting up had a lot more impact. In closing, I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys comics. The dialog is clean, action isn't over the top violent, plus you don't really need much knowledge on the Ultimate Universe or past events, but I do recommend the earlier Ultimate Spider-Man comics though. They are excellent reads.
Pros: -Short interesting story that is highly enjoyable