One of the biggest blockbusters of the 2018 holiday season now has an ultimate guide to its Ultimate Universe.

Spider-Man into the Spider-Verse: The Official Movie Special by Titan Comics is the perfect guide for anyone who is new to the friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man and his cast of colourful characters, especially those who are not dialed into the Ultimate Universe and its stature in Marvel’s comic book history.

Spider-Man into the Spider-Verse itself is not based on the standard Spider-Man comics casual fans may have read but Marvel’s Ultimate Universe comics. In that now-defunct imprint which takes place in a separate universe, Marvel rethought and reimagined its characters changing many of their origins. The Ultimate Universe was like a sandbox for Marvel creators to have more freedom with iconic Marvel heroes and do things never thought of due to the restrictions of the original Marvel universe.

In the Ultimate Universe, the teenage Miles Morales took up the web-slinging mantle as that universe’s Spider-Man. Although Spider-Man into the Spider-Verse alters part of Miles’ origin, it still remains faithful to the character’s spirit and tone of the Ultimate Spider-Man books.

Unlike Marvel’s reframing of many their traditional characters like making Jane Foster the new Thor, Amadeus Cho the new Hulk, etc, who were eventually reverted back to their original identities due to weak sales and disappointment of fans who welcome new characters but didn’t want the original characters to be replaced, Miles Morales was embraced by comic book fans mostly because he was introduced in a natural way which honoured and respected Peter Parker’s legacy and the Spider-Man character. Miles has become so popular that he has been brought over and now exists in the mainstream Marvel universe sharing the Spider-Man mantle with Peter Parker, his mentor. His new series, simply entitled Miles Morales: Spider-Man, was launched last week to coincide with the release of the film.

The Official Movie Special delves into a bit of that history giving the lowdown on all of the characters in the film, including Spider-Ham, Tombstone, The Green Goblin, Peni Parker and others who only appear briefly. Included in those extensive character bios are also comments from the filmmakers and original art which all shed more light on the colourful cast. As a veteran comic book collector and reader since the eighties, it was great to learn about the characters who appear but aren’t really explained in the film as I have dipped in and out of collecting Spider-Man titles and I was never a big fan of the Ultimate Universe. I was intrigued by Peni Parker’s appearance as I did not follow the Edge of Spider-Verse comic book series she was featured in and of all Miles’ companions, I wished she had been given more screen time, more of a role in the feature film. Perhaps she will in a sequel, web-shooters crossed.

The tome also contains scores of in-depth interviews with the directors and animators who describe how the film was made, animated and cast as well as some of the ideas that didn’t make it into the film. The final product is even more impressive when you realize how short a time period they had to produce the film and how Miles’ creator, Brian Michael Bendis, shared his knowledge and insights with the crew from the moment the film was conceived.

Fans, especially tweens, who are not familiar with Marvel’s Ultimate Universe or those who just wish to know more about Into the Spider-Verse and its heroes and villains, how the film was conceived, produced and eventually filmed will find The Official Movie Special to be an informative and comprehensive look at every aspect of the popular motion picture.

THE GOOD
Comprehensive bios.
Detailed interviews.
Exclusive artwork.
THE BAD
Veteran comic book fans may already know some of this info.
8.5
Great

Review Summary

Fans of the movie and Spider-Man will appreciate all of the time, effort and detail that went into this extensive guide.

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