by Brian Michael Bendis, David Marquez, David Lafuente, Sara Pichelli, Mark Brooks, Mark Bagley, Andrew Hennessy and Justin Ponsor
Whenever a book hits landmark numbers, like here in Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man #200, the issue is sure to be different than what someone might find behind the cover of most other issues within the series. This time, Bendis and Marquez team up to mark the two year anniversary of the passing of Peter Parker and as a result, the tone of the issue is one of melancholy. There is a lot of bitter sweetness to this book, and with a host of guest artists, issue 200 has a lot of talent behind it. The most enjoyable aspect of all of that, and what matters most, is that when it all comes together, it makes for an immensely satisfying issue.
Within moments of the start of the book there is a sense of enjoyment in seeing Miles and Ganke bickering at each other as they step off of a city bus in Queens. What may not be apparent at first to readers is that it has been over 6 months and closer to a year, since Miles and Ganke have had an exchange within the title that resembled any bit of normalcy. The series took off on an arc facing the Roxxon Corporation, and then transitioned into Cataclysm. Another proof of Bendis’ talent with character, just getting to see individuals he has created and developed after some time away is met with a sense of warmth not unlike seeing a friend after some time apart. And that is how this entire issue feels, warm and maybe a bit somber, as friends gather together to remember their lost friend.
The pages of Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man #200 exudes a strong sense of nostalgia that comes with a story framed in such a way. Aunt May welcomes friends of Peter’s into her home to remember her son’s life. Readers get to see and spend time with many of the familiar faces of the Ultimate Universe. But the added sense of normalcy as they are each out of costume perpetuates this sense of personality and amicability. Bendis almost feels like he is showing off, filling a single room with so many individuals and capturing, so incredibly, each individual voice. The characters shine in this space as each one interacts, reflecting on trivial matters before gathering around to talk about Peter.
It is here that readers get to see, in glorious two-page spreads, the day dreams of those left behind and what may have been had their friend still been around. The leader, the scientist, the reporter, the mentor, the romantic, and the grand hero, each friend has their own comforting rendition of what Peter may have been and it touches on what someone might mean to different people. It is likely that readers will find pieces of ‘their Peter’ in these pages. In addition to some great writing and characterization of how Peter impacted all of these people, the art on display is stunning. Each iteration is handled by a different artist and the amount of detail to each one will leave readers immersed in these brief fantasies, imaging the adventures they may have had with Peter.
Issue #200 is a love letter to a character that holds so much weight with the readers of many generations. It is incredible heartfelt, and feels like the eulogy that Brian Bendis wanted to deliver. He takes on the task of remembering Peter, the anniversary issue, and handles it so well. Likewise, Marquez’s art and Justin Ponsor’s colors throughout the issue are magnificent. Moments including MJ’s walk to the house surrounded by falling leaves, Mile’s daydream of Peter as his mentor, and of course an exchange between Ganke and Gwen, all showcase their ability to communicate emotion and tone. For each creator involved here, they have brought their best efforts, and it lends to one of the most memorable issues in the history of the title. Peter inspires, even after his time and that is not just confined to those within the book.