writer: Brian Michael Bendis
artists: Mark Bagley and Art Thibert
you will about this book. You have to admit that Bendis certainly
knows how to write the mind of the adolescent male.
in the middle of a rooftop battle between Elektra and the
mysterious Black Cat, young Spider-Man pauses for just an
instant, treasuring the catfight he's witnessing. Of course,
because he's noble, he snaps out of it and throws himself
back into the fray. The stakes are, after all, deadly, even
if Spider-Man has no idea what they actually are. But who
among us at fifteen wouldn't pause for just that moment?
be an uncomfortable truth. Such truths, though, make this
book the worthwhile read that it is, issue after issue. When
in costume, it's easy to forget Spider-Man's age, though Bagley
does still draw him to teen proportion. But when Peter Parker
thinks aloud, he betrays his youth.
also still reads on two levels, for the newbie and old-time
fan. Twenty years of original continuity has been compressed
and ground into something new. As Bagley's surprisingly melancholy
renderings of The Kingpin hint at a sorrow old readers know,
we switch to a battle among characters driven more by market
forces than by story needs. (If Kevin Smith hadn't done a
high-profile and incomplete tackling of Black Cat, would she
be appearing so soon in an Ultimate book? Never mind the movie-bound
it's done smoothly, even though Bendis has done a better job
of defying our expectations in previous arcs. (Anybody who
makes me actually interested in Venom is working a strange
kind of magic.)
not someone who has the Marvel Masterworks, or read your copy
of Origins of Marvel Comics over and over until it
pretty much disintegrated, the re-spun stories will be completely
fresh to you. But there are moments when it seems a shame
that we have the past still echoing through. Let Ultimate
Spider-Man move in wild new directions.
isn't being curmudgeonly; I had the same reaction to the utterly
(and surprisingly) brilliant Ultimate Fantastic Four.
Writers like Bendis and Millar can more than occasionally
take us for a wild ride; sometimes it's just a shame to know
where we're going.