In a few short weeks, moviegoers across the world will finally feast their eyes on the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Spider-Man: Homecoming. It’s been a long and turbulent road for the web-slinger to get an opportunity to interact with some of Marvel’s biggest characters, and hopefully, it’ll be worth the wait. What we find with Tom Holland’s version of the web-head is a teenager that’s actually having a blast trying to save the world…at least, we hope.
Although previous Spider-Man movies took various queues from all sorts of web-slinging comic books, Spider-Man: Homecoming looks be to heavily influenced by Brian Michael Bendis’s Ultimate Spider-Man series. In this re-imagining of the wall-crawler’s origin story, Peter Parker is a modern day 15-year-old, still trying to balance his life as a teenager and world-famous superhero. What’s different from this version when compared to The Amazing Spider-Man is that Peter Parker’s life is strikingly similar to any teenager growing up in the last 20 years. Additionally, with 40 years of lore coming from The Amazing Spider-Man comics, Ultimate Spider-Man is much more accessible to new readers. With all of these changes, we’ll go into the 15 Reasons Why Ultimate Spider-Man Is Better Than Amazing Spider-Man.
15. The Daily Bugle
One of the best aspects of the Ultimate Spider-Man line is that the writers never left a stone untouched within Peter Parker’s world. Brian Michael Bendis went out of his way to make familiar places like the Daily Bugle new and intimidating. Most Spidey fans are already familiar with the storied New York City newspaper, but one of the biggest changes in the Ultimate comics is that Peter isn’t a photographer when he first starts. Being a tech-savvy teenager, our hero is one of the Daily Bugle’s top web-designers. It’s a bit unrealistic in the modern times for a teenager to walk into one of NYC’s top publishers and be hired as a freelance photographer with little to no experience. At least with this run of comics, Parker already has a unique tool set that could offer the struggling newspaper a revamped website.
Another major change comes in the form of J. Jonah Jameson, who’s no longer a bumbling buffoon. He’s a battle-tested newspaper editor that’s well aware of how to handle his staff, from web-designers like Peter Parker to veteran reporters such as Ben Urich. Additionally, it’s refreshing to see Jameson show some sympathy to young Peter every now and then. Jameson understands the hardships that Parker goes through, and isn’t so much a diabolical tyrant, but a hard-nosed editor. It’s more plausible, and it gives us a better representation of a more realistic newspaper in Marvel Comics.
14. Clone Saga isn’t a mess
Arguably the worst event in The Amazing Spider-Man history, the Clone Saga has left a permanent scar on an otherwise breathtaking comic book series. In the original Clone Saga, the event was plagued with many confusing plot threads; from Ben Reilly becoming Scarlet Spider to the horribly written villain Judas Traveler, the event was a muddled mess. When it came time for the Ultimate Spider-Man series to take a shot at the Clone Saga, it was more a refined read, it involved characters that readers were already familiar with, and overall, it was much easier for Spider-Man fans to understand.
When the Clone Saga first starts out in Ultimate Spider-Man, the wall-crawler fights Scorpion, and after defeating the armored foe, it’s discovered that under the Scorpion’s helmet is a clone of Peter Parker. It all goes from bad to worse for Parker as multiple clones are revealed, and it’s discovered that Doctor Octopus (under the FBI’s watch) was creating Spider-Man clones as a way to kickstart their own version of a super-soldier program. From the event, we learn that Jessica Drew, aka Spider-Woman, is a female clone of Peter, and after Doc Ock is defeated, she goes onto her own crimefighting career. Although not without its faults, the Ultimate Spider-Man version of the Clone Saga is a more entertaining read, and the event has a much more satisfying ending. Who said all clone events in comics have to be bad?
13. A redefined costume
If an Amazing Spider-Man reader takes the time to notice, they might realize that the high school student Peter Parker is unusually ripped. Even before he’s bitten by the radioactive spider that gives our hero his wall-crawling abilities, the teenager isn’t exactly a shrimp. What’s refreshing about Ultimate Spider-Man‘s costume and Peter Parker’s physique is that he’s shown as a scrawny teenager. The character of Spider-Man is supposed to be quick, flexible, and lithe, and Mark Bagley’s illustrations showcase just that.
Although the Ultimate Spider-Man‘s version of the classic suit is almost identical to the Amazing Spider-Man‘s costume in terms of design, it does have a few noticeable differences. As previously mentioned, Peter Parker has the build of a realistic, nerdy-teenager. In addition, the costume’s huge, bug-eyed lenses make for the perfect representation of a youthful crime-fighter. All in all, Ultimate Spider-Man‘s version of the Spidey suit brings the spry superhero to life within its colorful pages.
12. Spidey’s interactions with other heroes
Just like in Captain America: Civil War, Ultimate Spider-Man‘s version of Peter Parker sure gets star-struck when meeting other members of the superhero community. Upon meeting the likes of Iron Man and Captain America, Spider-Man makes sure every single one of the Avengers is well aware that they’re his idols. It’s truly charming to see a young kid, who has just started his superhero career, getting a chance to meet some of the best in the business. Spider-Man is literally a Tony Stark and Steve Rogers fanboy, and it gives the comic a unique angle.
Of course, if any of these world famous superheroes does something to upset the wall-crawler, he lets them know. For instance, at Midtown High School, Matt Murdock (who Spider-Man has previously met as Daredevil) attempts to communicate with Peter Parker while he’s walking to class. This is a big deal for Peter, because he’s adamant about trying to keep his superhero career far removed from his civilian life, as a way to protect his loved ones. Luckily, Murdock quickly leaves after letting the incognito web-head know about a secret rendezvous, but not before Peter let the attorney have an earful. Whether he’s meeting his idols or scolding them, Spider-Man’s interactions with other heroes are a bit more grounded in Ultimate Spider-Man, and that makes for a more interesting read.
11. Re-imagined Rogues Gallery
For many of Spider-Man’s foes, readers and moviegoers will instantly recognize the likes of Sandman, Green Goblin, Venom or even the Lizard. If readers of Ultimate Spider-Man got more of the same, it would quickly lead to a stale read and could turn some fans off of the series. Luckily, in this comic, Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley reinvented some of these world-famous supervillains and gave their origins a refreshing reboot.
For instance, in The Amazing Spider-Man, Green Goblin is a super powered maniac with plenty of tricks up his sleeves, but in Ultimate Spider-Man, the Green Goblin is a massive, green creature that hurls fireballs. Almost every single villain featured in this series gets a re-imagining that could surprise even veteran fans of the web-slinger. While some of these changes could be seen as controversial, it’s still a fun ride to see these classic villains have a more modern twist.
10. Peter Parker’s love life
For all the nerdy quirks that Peter Parker has, he really is quite the lady’s man. Even in The Amazing Spider-Man series, he never really had trouble finding a girlfriend. That’s no different Ultimate Spider-Man, as Peter dates Mary Jane Watson throughout high school. That’s honestly when this series is at its best, when Peter Parker and MJ are having funny and interesting conversations with each other. They’re a highly entertaining couple, and even through their various breakups, they’re perfect for each other.
At one point, when MJ and Peter were broken up, the latter dated a member of the X-Men, Kitty Pryde, who was a massive Spider-Man fan long before they got to know each other. Kitty’s own superhero experience helped ensure a fun dynamic for this new couple. During their brief relationship, it was incredibly fun to watch both the two fight crime together and use their superpowers in unique ways. Whether it be Kitty Pryde, or Mary Jane Watson, Peter Parker’s love life never had a dull moment in Ultimate Spider-Man.
9. Handling of the Symbiotes
Like most of Spidey’s foes in Ultimate Spider-Man, Venom also receives a revamped origin story. Instead of hitching a ride on Peter Parker, the symbiote is a created by Eddie Brock Jr’s father, alongside Richard Parker, in an attempt to cure the world of cancer. In addition to curing the cancer patient, the symbiote would bond with the user and protect him or her from internal or external harm.
With the origin story tying in both of their fathers, Eddie and Peter’s lives are intertwined long before either one of them get any spider-like abilities. In addition to Venom, Carnage is also a vastly different character in this series. Instead of the psychopath Cletus Kasady joining with the offspring of the Venom symbiote, Ultimate Spider-Man‘s version of Carnage is a creature that’s created when Dr. Curt Connors experiments with his blood, along with Peter’s and a piece of the original symbiote. The creature is eventually stopped, but not before murdering one of Peter Parker’s best friends, Gwen Stacy. To sum it all up, the symbiotes in Ultimate Spider-Man are scarier and meaner than what’s found in other versions of the alien creatures — which makes reading about the symbiotes feel like watching a horror movie.
8. Spider-Man has fun
What would most 15-year-olds do if they were blessed with amazing new superpowers? Most likely, they would have a blast showing off their uncanny abilities. During Ultimate Spider-Man, that’s just what Peter Parker does. He has no qualms about showcasing his powers in front of his girlfriend Mary Jane Watson (after he reveals to her his secret identity), giving her rides to and from New York City. Of course, there’s darker moments in this version of Spider-Man, but most of the time, Peter Parker is having a blast while web-swinging across the city.
In The Amazing Spider-Man series, the wall-crawler often uses his sense of humor to distract or anger his opponents into making a mistake. Ultimate Spider-Man‘s version of the character not only does this as Spidey, but his comedic flair also extends to the geeky Peter Parker. We rarely see The Amazing Spider-Man version having much fun with his life, so it’s refreshing to see a hero actually enjoy both sides of their daily routine.
7. No pesky retcons
Hands down, one of the worst Amazing Spider-Man storylines involves the villainous Mephisto wiping out real and interesting changes to Peter Parker’s character. After Aunt May was shot at the conclusion of the Civil War comic book crossover, Peter makes a deal with Marvel’s version of the devil himself — in exchange for the villain saving his aunt’s life, the hero’s marriage to Mary Jane Watson is erased from existence. Additionally in the deal, Mephisto wipes out the world’s memory of Spider-Man revealing his secret identity.
This event left a horrendous taste in pretty much every Spidey fan’s mouth, and it really pushed The Amazing Spider-Man series back in terms of creativity or character progress. If Marvel is content with simply retconning away a true and meaningful change to the Peter Parker character, will he ever truly have any progression? Luckily, in Ultimate Spider-Man, readers never really have to worry about that, because the web-head lived in his own Ultimate Universe instead of Marvel’s mainstay Earth-616 Universe. At least in this version of Spider-Man, Peter Parker could have an attempt at truly being happy (and, you know, growing as a character).
6. Spider-Man’s humor
Tying directly into number eight on our list, Ultimate Spider-Man‘s version of the web-slinger is a quick-witted goofball that constantly uses humor as a distraction technique during a battle. One of the best scenes in any Spidey comic comes when Ultimate Spider-Man‘s version of the hero goes toe-to-toe with the Kingpin for the first time. During the battle, ole’ web-head pulls out note cards filled with fat jokes mocking Wilson Fisk’s size. He’d clearly done his homework.
Of course, comic book Spidey has always been funny, but Ultimate Spider-Man always seems to land the punch-line. It just goes to show you how much fun the character is in this version, that it’s not all doom and gloom during battles — even when lives are on the line. For the readers, it’s great fun; for Spidey’s foes…not so much.
5. Peter Parker acts like a real teenager
It’s hard for comic book writers to really capture the age of a younger character. Constantly, we see all sorts of publishers fail to hit the mark in this regard. Of course, Stan Lee did a terrific job in The Amazing Spider-Man series, especially for its time, but Brian Michael Bendis really brings out the quirkiness of a young Peter Parker in Ultimate Spider-Man.
From Peter’s humor, fanboyism, and general goofiness — he’s a great representation of a kid from Queens who just got bit by a radioactive spider and he’s making the most of it. In general, Spider-Man has always been a relatable character, but having a more grounded background for the character just adds that much more for readers to relate to in the modern world. That’s one of the biggest strengths of Marvel’s Ultimate Universe, and one that’s lacking in the more recent issues of the Amazing Spider-Man.
4. Aunt May isn’t helpless
Although extremely warm and caring, Aunt May in The Amazing Spider-Man series has often been portrayed as a somewhat bland, weak, and incredibly helpless character. Aunt May is constantly having health issues, and she’s constantly worrying about Peter Parker because “he’s such a fragile boy“. After half a century of development, the most exciting thing Aunt May has done in The Amazing Spider-Man is almost marrying Doctor Octopus.
Like most characters in the Ultimate Spider-Man series, Aunt May gets an overhaul. In this series, she’s quicker, wittier, and a stronger character overall. When she finally figures out that Peter Parker is Spider-Man, she handles it like anyone would — with disappointment and anger that her closest family member didn’t trust her enough to tell her. After a short while, Aunt May finally accepts the fact that her nephew is one of the world’s greatest superheroes. After his true identity is revealed, Aunt May becomes someone Peter Parker looks to for advice, and ultimately becoming the mother he never had.
3. Realistic Setting
One of the best features of Marvel’s Ultimate Universe is that the world these superheroes live in is that its pretty darn similar to our own. From pop culture references, death and injury actually being permanent, and the general sense that the universe is connected — more so than the main Earth-616 Universe, anyway. As a reader, you feel like you’re actually in a living and breathing universe right there with Peter Parker.
One of the best aspects in the Ultimate Spider-Man series is if there’s a large event, say a earth-shattering Avengers battle within New York City or somewhere else, Peter Parker will address it in his own story. The series just generally meshes well with every other Ultimate series that Marvel created over the years. It’s just unfortunate that the main Marvel Universe doesn’t have such a connected and cohesive world.
2. Miles Morales
Since Miles Morales’ debut in 2011’s “Ultimate Fallout” #4, he’s been the poster child for modern day Spider-Man stories. Like Ultimate Spider-Man‘s Peter Parker, Miles is a young teenager within New York City when he’s bitten by a radioactive spider. Also like Peter, the mantle of Spider-Man isn’t without tragedy. During the beginning of his career as the new wall-crawler, Miles’ mother is killed during a mishap with the police who were attempting to shoot Venom.
Along with a interesting backstory, Miles Morales as Spider-Man has a few new abilities that Peter Parker never had. First of all, this new Spidey can use a “venom bite” technique to incapacitate foes in a non-lethal fashion. In addition to his shocking touch, Miles Morales can even go completely invisible, something that an adult Peter Parker has to build an entire new costume for. With a compelling backstory and an intriguing set of powers, Miles already has a massive fan base, and now that he’s been added into the Earth-616 Universe, the good stories will continue on, even after the ending of the Ultimate Spider-Man series.
1. Death is final
Reading Marvel comic books, or even DC’s — if a fan favorite character falls in the line of duty, there’s about a 1000% chance that they’ll return in a few years. With the inevitable resurrection of these characters, battles just don’t have the same weight to them. To reiterate this point, world famous superheroes like Spider-Man, Batman, Superman, Captain America, and even the Human Torch all have bit the bullet, but they usually come right back after some convoluted loophole is revealed (or an outright retcon). Of course, there are rare exceptions but with Marvel’s Ultimate Universe, characters returning to life isn’t a common occurrence.
Death is actually quite heartbreaking in this world, because as a reader, you know that there’s almost no possibility of these characters coming back. In Marvel’s Ultimate Universe, you have some incredibly famous characters that are permanently deceased; for instance, Wolverine, Daredevil, Scarlet Witch, Doctor Octopus, and Doctor Doom are all characters that have met an untimely demise. With death actually meaning something, it becomes apparent that in the Ultimate Universe, every battle these superheroes take part in could very well be their last. Unfortunately, Peter Parker was no exception.
Do you agree with our list? What’s your favorite iteration of everyone’s favorite wall-crawler? Let us know in the comments!
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