Welcome back to the Marvel Rundown! This week, D. Morris, Lucia Iannone, George Carmona 3rd, Tim Rooney, and Cy Beltran discuss Ultimate Spider-Man #1, a brand new starting point to the Ultimate line from Jonathan Hickman and Marco Checchetto. How does it stack up to the original? Read on and find out!

A note: This review will go into FULL SPOILER territory for the issue. If you’re not comfortable knowing the full details of this story, skip all the way to the bottom of this piece to read our verdicts!

What did you think of this week’s batch of fresh Marvel Comics, True Believers? The Beat wants to hear from you! Give us a shout-out, here in the comment section or over on social media @comicsbeat, and let us know what you’re thinking.

Ultimate Spider-Man #1

Ultimate Spider-Man #1

Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Marco Checchetto
Color Artist: Matthew Wilson
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Cover Artists: Marco Checchetto & Matthew Wilson

The Beat: What are your overall thoughts on the issue?

D. Morris: First thinking back to our Best Marvel books of 2023 list, it now both does and doesn’t surprise me that we didn’t include Jonathan Hickman and Bryan Hitch’s Ultimate Invasion on it. In hindsight, it surprised me because I think it was better than I thought it would be. Yet I’m not surprised because it seemed very Jonathan Hickman playing his greatest hits. I thought this was a solid enough opening issue that has me intrigued. However, I have concerns about this new Ultimate line and how sustainable it can be, thinking about Ultimate Invasion and Ultimate Universe #1. Also I had to reread Ultimate Universe #1 to remember certain plot points. 

Lucia Iannone: I’m hesitant to admit it, but I thought this was a great issue. One thing I really liked about it was that it really felt like someone who didn’t have any context could pick this up and understand what’s happening. And I liked how it wasn’t afraid to challenge some assumptions we might have about the characters.

George Carmona 3rd: I thought the Ultimate mini was okay, so I wasn’t expecting this issue to be so good. I like the spin on the Spider mythos and the artwork is a perfect match for the moody story. This is exactly what the Ultimate Universe is supposed to do, giving us the essence of Spider-Man without the 50-plus years of baggage.  

Tim Rooney: My first thought is that I wish I had read the first issue of the original Ultimate Spider-Man just to get a sense how that handled setting up its new world. This first issue was good with some surprising choices, and Marco Checchetto’s art was stunning. But it also strained under the effort of a ton of worldbuilding that took us away from this version of Peter Parker a little bit. Hickman and Hitch’s relaunch mini didn’t leave much of an impression on me but the small personal details we got here made a more positive impression–I miss this Hickman who taps into the humanity of the Marvel heroes. His humanist tendencies can get lost under the big ideas so I’m intrigued where he goes from here in a story that seems mostly concerned with its characters more than plot mechanics. 

Cy Beltran: Honestly, I was blown away at how much I enjoyed this issue. I appreciate how we took our time getting into this world and spent far more time with the characters and peeking into their dynamics, rather than full-blown superheroics. Like Tim said, it’s that humanity that stood out to me. It didn’t feel like something Marvel would normally release, and I’m hoping this kind of storytelling sticks around. I was also not an enormous fan of the initial mini, but this brought back the excitement I’d originally had for the line. Plus, uh, Uncle Ben is still around? What a fascinating choice. 

TR: One thing we didn’t get yet, that I think the creators are building toward, is what is going to propel Peter into his heroism without the defining tragedy of the character. There’s a hint that he has a longing to do something bigger with his life and I am curious to see how that gets teased out. Everything was a little bit too perfect for Peter here.

DM: I’m absolutely waiting for the tragedy to drop.

GC3: I like that he has to purposely choose to take on the mantle. If May is already dead you can’t kill Ben too. 

LI: I mean, didn’t we have a whole movie about how Spider-Men shouldn’t need a huge tragedy to propel their heroism?

CB: Yeah, that’s true, and I’m hoping something tragic doesn’t happen, but I’m worried knowing Hickman and co. So much of 616 Pete’s world is steeped in tragedy, and it’d be nice to see a bit less here.  

LI: If they even so much as touch the redheaded hairs on MJ’s and the kids’ heads, I swear…

TR: I don’t think Marvel offices would survive the week if this marriage ends poorly. The shippers would revolt!

GC3: Agree, #NoFridging  

DM: I am very pro keeping all generations of this family alive. This is honestly a really interesting take because in the last 25 years it seems Marvel has done everything it can to make Peter Parker a child. Here’s a Spider-Man who is an adult with a dayjob, a family, and now super powers that he has to learn how to use.

LI: Agreed! If they’re not going to let 616 Peter grow up, nice that they’ll at least let this one do it.

TR:Totally with you there…616 Pete has been so defined by his various failures. Introducing us to a Pete who is successful in family and career before he even gets his powers sets up a completely new dynamic. That’s what I’m most excited to see develop moving forward. Does becoming Spider-Man make everything fall apart?. 

GC3: I think that will be the challenge, how will he be a hero without sacrificing his family life? And I’m all in for it. 

Ultimate Spider-Man

CB: I don’t mean to jump, but I can’t believe we haven’t really talked about what a beautiful book this is. Checchetto and Matthew Wilson were already a perfect pairing on Daredevil, but holy cow this was incredible to look at. Everything Checchetto draws looks slightly windswept and it makes for these wonderfully dynamic shots in every panel. Wilson’s colors elevate all of this, making characters and locations subtly distinct. 

LI: Absolutely. The art’s gorgeous, perfectly paced, and the character acting is stellar—every little expression and motion tells you so much. No notes.

GC3: I am really digging his character designs, bearded Pete works, the “High Evolutionary” armor that Tony has is majestic, and his sultry version of MJ works for me. And for a book that doesn’t have a lot of action, Checchetto’s storytelling works for a dialog-heavy read.   

TR: Checchetto has that stylized, superdetailed realism that suits the Ultimate Universe so well. At least the original version of this line was very much about capturing the “real world” feel, and I think that is present here. The characters are of course beautiful superheroes but the staging and detail of crowdshots and locations make the whole world come to life. The facial expressions are superb, too. This Jonah has so much character.

DM: Checchetto’s art stylistically is in the same area as Bryan Hitch so it’s the perfect transition from Ultimate Invasion into this. Like Lucia, I think he draws his figures solidly and you can really tell his characters apart from each other. I will say, I’m waiting to see how he renders Spider-Man in motion. Spider-man is best when he looks weird and funky in motion. I’m hoping it’s not too overthought out. Also is Matthew Wilson currently Marvel’s best colorist? Because between this, Immortal Thor, and Incredible Hulk, he knows how to bring out the best not just in his artists but in the storytelling too. This issue really captures the grey of winter in a big city.

LI: I’m hesitant to name anyone “best,” but Wilson’s definitely my favorite.

CB: It’s a toss up between Wilson and Marte Gracia for me, but I’m with you Lucia, it’s too hard to pick a best/favorite.

DM: Can we hope that Uncle Ben and J. Jonah Jameson revive alternative journalism in the age of the internet? Will they create the Marvel equivalent of the Village Voice?

LI: I’m not sure, they kinda strike me as too entrapped in the industry. But who knows? I love seeing some journalists kick ass and defeat evil.

Ultimate Spider-Man

CB: Speaking of some journalists kicking ass (and I would call us journalists in the broadest sense of the word), how do we feel about the future of this line going forward? 

DM: One of my complaints about this is issue, is that I had to reread Ultimate Universe #1 to remember what Tony Stark did that in that (Spoiler for a month old book; the world governments blamed Tony Stark for a terrorist attack). There’s an end point that Jonathan Hickman has built with the release of The Maker. The sting at the end with Iron Lad confirms that we’re probably getting a massive crossover in the future. I’m worried that this book and the others, like a lot of his run on X-Men, will sacrifice character and get bogged down in plot and worldbuilding. Are we going towards a specific plot points in this book that will tie into the other Ultimate books? Will Peter get to exist as a character on his own? Can these books survive without Jonathan Hickman guiding them? These are questions that I think are worth asking.  That said, the books coming down the line look intriguing, especially Peach Momoko’s Ultimate X-Men. I’m really curious who is going to be in the Ultimates line up if the folks that Tony Stark collects in Ultimate Universe are anything to go by.   

LI: Personally, I think the main challenge is going to be avoiding the pitfall of keeping the comics accessible to a total newbie. But beyond that, I am excited to see new, gutsier takes on established characters—like we said, 616 Peter can’t be a married family man, but this one can, and I hope that ethos carries forward.

GC3: I wasn’t super excited about this reboot, but I’m all in now. I hope Hickman does his thing where he takes an idea and doses it with a super-soldier/MGH, gamma-infused shot. The man can’t tell a small story and with that, I’m hoping we get more Ben and Jonah. Maybe in this universe, Ben is able to pull Jonah over to the Spider side of things.  

CB: The Ultimate Universe sting at the end of the issue was the only complaint I had with the whole story. It didn’t do anything for me or make me feel excited about what’s to come. What actually made me excited was hearing that Deniz Camp is helming the new Ultimates series next summer. I love seeing Hickman’s take on Pete here, (and I think it’s smart to have an established voice kick off this universe), but I think embracing this new universe means embracing newer creators and unique ideas as to what a superhero universe can be. Momoko on Ultimate X-Men looks like the future of superhero comics, and that’s what I want from this world.

TR: I was also skeptical about this relaunch but in the end it is all about what it offers that is different from the mainline Marvel Universe and even the MCU. I still don’t quite know what the overall pitch for this Ultimate Universe is, it seems like some complicated setup to get to these stories. That will matter less as things get established I think. As long as we get compelling stories with interesting new takes on the Marvel Universe and this caliber of art, I’ll be invested. Cy, I am with you on being excited for Deniz Camp on Ultimates. That is such a perfect and interesting choice. That 20th Century Men sensibility could add some cool wrinkles. 

DM: Concerns aside, this is a definite BUY!

GC3: Spider-strength BUY!

LI: It’s a BUY from me, folks.

TR: You should BUY this one!

CB: This is an unequivocal BUY, and you can bet that we’ll be coming back next month to talk about Ultimate Black Panther for our next roundtable! Thanks everyone, see you next week!

Ultimate Spider-Man

Next Week: Avengers Twilight #1 and the conclusion to Miracleman: The Silver Age!


  1. disappointed that Peter did not become a scientist, otherwise it was all right. Was very happy to see Pete and MJ married with freckled kids.

Comments are closed.