This April, Marvel’s Ultimate universe will undergo an enormous change post Catalclym, but one thing will remain the same: Brian Michael Bendis will continue writing Ultimate Spider-Man. It seems the new direction that the Ultimate universe will be taking will be one that is Ultimate Spider-Man centric, instead of the Ultimates. This is a change that probably should have happened years ago, with Ultimate Spider-Man continuing to be the best reviewed and selling book from the line of comics.
Ultimate Spider-Man (vol. 3) will be retitled as Miles Morales: Ultimate Spider-Man but not before a landmark issue is released from Marvel. Ultimate Spider-Man #200, a disputable number, is a double-sized issue with artwork from every Ultimate Spider-Man artist, except for Stuart Immonen, that features a gathering for the second anniversary of the death of Peter Parker. As the preview states:
On the anniversary of his death, the whole world mourns the loss of Peter Parker, the original Spider-Man. At the home of May Parker, a more intimate gathering of Peter’s closest friends grieve for the loss of their dear friend. But even as they remember their fallen friend, a sinister plan has been set in motion. And the shocking truths about Peter and his world are about to be revealed.
Plus, don’t miss the shocking ending that will have everyone talking! Seeds sown here will bear bitter fruit for Miles in the upcoming “Miles Morales: Ultimate Spider-Man” series!
It looks like this issue will be used to kick-start the new series and will provide some interesting twists to Miles’ life. Marvel recently released some interesting preview art for the book, see here. But one particular image caught my attention:
The image features several of the most infamous Ultimate characters from various different points in the line’s history (important to note that Captain America appears here despite his death in Ultimate Cataclysm: The Ultimates’ Last Stand #4). Even Miles Morales’ Spider-Man appears in the background of the image. The clear focus of the image is on a newly costumed Spider-Man in the middle.
Normally I wouldn’t find this to be too interesting, new Spider-Man costumes are fairly common outside of the Ultimate universe. However, in all of the other solicits for the new Ultimate books, post re-launch, Miles is shown in his typical outfit. Could this be someone other than Miles Morales in a Spider-Man costume? Is this the return of Ultimate Peter Parker on the second anniversary of his death?
More intriguing information comes from Brian Michael Bendis’ tumblr page where an anonymous reader, on February 25th, asked him the following question:
It seems reasonable to assume that this might be the new Ultimate Scarlet Spider or a continuation of the Ultimate Clone Saga, a scheme perpetrated by the now deceased Ultimate Doctor Octopus. Bendis has also teased that the first villain in Miles Morales: Ultimate Spider-Man will be a character from the 60s television show. That doesn’t exactly narrow down the list of possible villains this could be, as seen in this list from Wikipedia. Most of these villains were generic green-skinned men or women with no real defining features. Could Bendis just be adapting one of their names and putting them in a Spider-Man costume for his first arc on the new series? I assume not, but I imagine we will be seeing more of this Scarlet-clad figure.
I suspect this character is actually someone who was introduced to one of the 41 spiders that preceded Miles’ spider, number 42. Readers know that for a long while Roxxon had been attempting to create a Spider-Man of their own. This resulted in a ton of other experiments that created Miles’ current teammates, set to appear in their own new book All-New Ultimates: Black Widow (formerly known as Spider-Woman), Kitty Pryde (aka Shadowcat), Lana Baumgartner (aka Bombshell), and Cloak and Dagger. While all were not directly created by Roxxon, the corporation has a large hand in their existence, Miles included. We first learn of their influences and desires in Ultimate Spider-Man (vol. 3) #22 when their manipulations of the Venom suit causes the death of Miles’ mother.
A year passes after Miles quits being Spider-Man and Roxxon slips further into the shadows with their experiments, quite literally actually… as they create Cloak and Dagger. Their appearance, in a battle with Bombshell, draws Miles Morales out of hiding and back into the suit. He eventually manages to get the confused youths to team up to take on the mysterious Roxxon, who is being funded by S.H.I.E.L.D. However, right before Roxxon is taken into custody he reveals that it was his organization that was responsible for the further experimenting with the Oz formula and spiders the resulted in the first Spider-Man. They were attempting to repeat the situation that created Peter Parker before they were shut down. In this following image (click on it to get the full size), Roxxon lets Miles know that the number 42 on the back of the spider that bit him wasn’t conincidental:
Could it be that the new “Ultimate Scarlet Spider,” as we will call him/her for now, is the result of one of these original missing spiders? Could it be the Peter Parker clone, that formerly donned a Scorpion suit, back in action?