Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Comics Review - Ultimate Spider-Man by Brian Michael Bendis and Start Immonen

Issues:  #111 - #128
TPBs: Death of a Goblin, Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends, War of the Symbiotes

Another fantastic series of comics continuing the excellent Ultimate Spider-Man. The first part of Ultimate Spidey is below if you haven't read it already :) I'd first seen Immonen's work in NEXTWAVE: Agents of H.A.T.E. written by Warren Ellis, which almost like a parody of the Marvel Universe. Immonen has a great style for facial expressions, and all the characters looked different but completely recognisable and familiar.
As always full of

Issue #111 - The Talk

This was actually part of the last trade, but being the first issue by Stuart Immonen I thought I'd put it here. This was a great little issue with Aunt May confronting Peter about his dual-life as Spider-Man. He doesn't approve of the violence, but appreciates that Peter is trying to make a difference. One page had me particular choked up when Peter explained his actions that with great power much also come great responsibility. Aunt May looks at him all teary and said, "That's what Ben used to say". Awwww. The family dynamic of Ultimate Spider-Man is one of the best parts. In regular Marvelverse, May is reeeeally old and Spidey is grown up and married, but being a teen in Ultimate with such an awesome Aunt is class.

Death of a Goblin

Norman Osborn breaks out of the Triskelion, the base of the Ultimates, and where some of the most dangerous people on Earth are being held. Osborn keeps asking to see Nick Fury, but acting Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. is Carol Danvers and continually says that Nick Fury isn't around anymore. It's not explained at all, but from reading Ultimate Power, a cross-over with the Marvel MAX title Supreme Power, which is also awesome, I remember that Nick ended up staying in the Supreme Power dimension instead. Which was nice.

Osborn breaks out and transforms into the Goblin again and wreaks some havoc. This time his first stop is his publicist, and then onto TV to tell the world how Nick Fury stole his company, his money and his son, and then injected him with some stuff to turn him into the Green Goblin. He eventually turns up at Peter's house, but for once Mary Jane and Aunt May aren't in the line of fire. Carol Danvers uses the only thing she can to get Norman's attention - Harry. Norman goes nuts and ends up fighting S.H.I.E.L.D. with the help of Spidey and Kitty, but soon Harry transforms into the Hobgoblin and fights Norman. The fight ends with Norman beating Harry to death, who ends up back in human form. Danvers points out "You've just killed your son". Norman transforms back to human form and in a shocking move pleads to be killed, which Danvers is only too happy to oblige.

A really heart-felt and unexpected end to the arc. In class Peter brings up that Harry has died, and gives a moving eulogy, saying that Harry was a hero.

Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends

When I first saw the title of this book I thought, "Seriously..?". Bendis being ironic I think. This sees the return of Johnny Storm to Midtown as he hasn't forgotten about Liz Allen, who meanwhile starts displaying powers of her own. After over 100 issues of mutantphobic, it turns out Liz is a mutant herself.
Once again at the beach, fire is involved, only it's Liz who bursts into flames this time. Iceman features a lot in this story as he and Spidey try to convince Liz that she's been given a gift. It made me laugh how many times Peter tried to say the powers and responsibility line, but kept getting interrupted. With the manifestation of her X-gene, it's not long before Magneto shows up! Liz ends up with a choice between finding out who her father is within Magneto's brotherhood, or joining the X-Men. Initially she chooses neither and blasts off, landing in Mary Jane's backyard. Peter swings by and soon unmasks to show Liz that she's among understanding friends. How many people know Spidey's identity now? Hehehe. When Liz fist shot off at the beach there was a great moment when Kong, Kitty's new boyfriend and former sidekick of Flash Thompson, tells Peter he needs to go after him. He points out that they've all known each other since second grade, and that if needs be he'll speak in code and says "If only Spider-Man were here and could go after our friend". Kong figured out Peter's identity a long while before, but being a good man he never brought it up, rather preferring Peter to come clean himself. But this of course wasn't a normal situation. It was pretty touching though.

This book finishes with a great issue where he is kidnapped by The Shocker, who has appeared several times during the series and beaten down so many times that he has become a joke. This time he kicks Pete's butt and drags him off to a warehouse and zaps him to hell and back. Peter asks him why if he can invent his sonic blasters, why is robbing banks the only thing he uses them for, and Shocker reveals that he had been developing weapons for ROXXON

War of the Symbiotes

Venom is back! To be honest I'd forgotten about Venom by this point as he appeared to have died, even though as I wrote in the last blog, Nick Fury did point out there was no body. Eddie is having to eat people to survive, and the symbiote wants Peter. Peter ends up having a great big fight with Venom, and the symbiote leaves Eddie and bonds to Spidey just as the Ultimates turn up. There's a great scene where Peter is battling for control with the symbiote who is trying to eat Iron Man while Peter is thinking, "I can't be the one who eats Iron Man. He's my hero!". Eventually he gets put down by Thor, and wakes up at home recovered.
When Norman Osborn escaped the Triskelion in the previous book, it also showed some other villains and Gwen Stacy's Carnage-y clone escaping. Gwen turns up in Peter's bedroom with a Carnage face asking for help. Meanwhile Eddie turns up at the door, and Aunt May answers and pulls a gun on him! What a badass she is :D

Eddie fights with Gwen-Carnage and ends up absorbing the symbiote right out of her and becomes a giant Venomy thing. 

This leaves Gwen as a regular naked clone girl, and Spidey left to fight Giant Venon who eventually gets away. After S.H.I.E.L.D. perform loads of tests, Gwen is proved to be just a regular girl with no sign of symbiote, and Peter and May take her home, which I absolutely loved. It was nice for things to go good for them for a change. The book ended with Eddie telling his story on a park bench, where he has eaten anyone who listened, but the last victim ended up absorbing him and revealed himself to be The Beetle (I know, who?) who flies back to Latveria with the symbiote... Ooooh, spooky.


Ok, I must confess I never bought Ultimatum. I was told second-hand what happens, and after reading Ultimates 3 and being so so disappointed I couldn't actually bring myself to read it. One day I'm sure I'll get around to it... A big wave hits New York and almost everyone dies because Magneto alters the magnetic poles of the Earth, unbelievably pissed at the Scarlet Witch's death.
After this was the new series of Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man, which I'll be blogging about separately, and I have to say it's brilliant. I'd heard bad things, but when I read it myself it was everything I love about Ultimate Spider-Man!

You rock Bendis

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