In the middle of the “Clone Saga” storyline, Peter finally revealed to Aunt May that he was Spider-Man. She promptly had a heart attack. After spending “Ultimate Knights” in a hospital bed, Aunt May finally comes home and has the opportunity to talk to Peter one on one about his dual-identity.
This issue is important for two major reasons. Number one, this is the ‘passing of the torch’ issue between outgoing penciler Mark Bagley and the incoming Stuart Immonen. Bagley has been on this title since the beginning without missing a single issue, breaking with writer Brian Bendis the record for longest ongoing title streak, previously held at 102 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby on Fantastic Four. Now, with #111, Bagley shares the pencil duty with his successor, and the issue flows well with it.
The second reason is in the story itself. In mainstream Marvel continuity, Aunt May learned of Peter’s alter-ego several years ago. Since then, she has become a more central support member of the cast, able to give him advice for both lives he leads. The difference between there and here is that the original Peter is an adult, and May knows this. In Ultimate, Peter is still in high school, underage and still under May’s direct care. This makes a much different relationship between the two, as now May is likely going to be much more in the center of things.
It must also be taken into account the differences between the mainstream Aunt May and her Ultimate counterpart. While a grandmotherly figure for the adult Peter Parker, in Ultimate, she’s much more of a motherly figure, much younger than her counterpart. She greatly cares for Peter, but is often frustrated by his actions. It’s a much different relationship between the two, like an actual teenager/adult relationship, rather than the happy times that were frequent in 60s comics, when the original was in high school.
My only problem is that a plot point of “Clone Saga” – May knowing that Richard Parker was alive and telling Peter to get out – seems to be quietly forgotten with little mention. May dismisses that she ever told Peter to leave and that’s the end of that. As long as the whole Richard thing doesn’t come up again, who cares, right? I, for one, am not going to dwell on it.
The issue itself is good, with Bendis doing dialog like only he can. Bagley covers the conversation art, while Immonen takes the flashback action sequences. It’s really not the best example to show off Immonen to readers not familiar with him, since much of Ultimate Spider-Man takes place out of costume. But I’m familiar with his run on Ultimate X-Men, and I’m quite pleased with his new role.
So the title takes a turn in a new direction with a new artist. Perhaps it will be the breath of fresh air that this title seems to have been needing.