Poor Peter Parker. All his friends hate him, his girlfriend has stopped speaking to him and to top it off, the whole world despises Spider-Man. What’s a dude to do?? How about save the world and maybe meet the new love of his life? Fan-favorite BRIAN MICHAEL BENDIS (NEW AVENGERS) and rising Ultimate sensation, SARA PICHELLI (RUNAWAYS) bring you a new and exciting Spider-Man story you don’t want to miss!!
Ultimate Comics Spider-Man has been in some minds a disappointment in comparison to the original volume of Ultimate Spider-Man. To them, I say “calm down, people!” as I’ve been enjoying it greatly throughout. It’s been one of the best Marvel books out there since it started this new run…but with Sara Pichelli jumping on board and a renumbering coming, can it keep the gravy train rolling, or will its biscuit wheels fall off?
Find out after the jump.
The arc that led into this week’s issue of Ultimate Comics Spider-Man was one of a pair of Chameleon characters taking over Spider-Man’s identity and effectively destroying it both from a superhero reputation side of things as well as from a personal standpoint. The primary Chameleon turned Spidey into a bank robbing super villain, he managed to destroy the relationships Peter had built with Gwen and Mary Jane, and he quickly drew the ire of SHIELD, an organization that had already been frustrated by the antics of our favorite superheroic teenager.
When you’re a teenager, that pretty much means your life is in shambles, and that is how much of this issue plays out. Peter coping with what had happened, and then working to rebuild the burnt bridges within his life.
With this issue, a new artist who will be regularly featured in this book (alternating arcs with David LaFuente) took the reins, as Sara Pichelli started the story out with one of the better visual story mechanics I’ve seen in recent memory. The first 10 pages or so told 5 different scenes using a fixed camera angle that typically featured a single character in a static position while other characters moved around them. Because of the way some characters (namely Peter, Mary Jane and Gwen) were so devastated by what transpired in the previous arc, this allowed for highly emotive storytelling that showed an intense level of care for the featured subject. Whether this was an idea from Brian Michael Bendis or from Pichelli is uncertain, but either way, the execution was perfect and allowed for some truly inspired visual storytelling.
That the thing that altered this framed storytelling was the introduction of a new variable to the equation (a particularly mysterious new girl to Peter’s high school) made this an even more inspired decision, and it pushed the storytelling to an even higher level when Pichelli brought that storytelling back at the end for the last two pages.
With all of that said about his new collaborator, I can’t say it enough: Bendis just gets these characters. While my preference for Bendis has always been his grittier works, he understands Peter, Mary Jane, Gwen, Johnny, Bobby and the rest so well that this book could have nothing but conversations and I would find it worth $3.99 every single time. He has such a gift for character and dialogue that I’m enraptured by my reading experience thoroughly with every issue.
He also provided a seminal J. Jonah Jameson moment, and perhaps my favorite one ever for the character (any variety) ever. In the Chameleon arc, Jameson found out that Peter Parker and Spider-Man were one and the same. Given his vitriol for the hero in the 616 universe, Jameson would have burned him even though Peter and his friends saved his life. Yet when Bendis turned on a dime, shocking Robbie Robertson and Ben Urich by saying “God put me here. God saved my life. And God gave me the power to help Spider-Man. I know this now. I will fight the entire world for him” (and you can tell they are shocked by the face Pichelli gives Robbie), it is bolstered by one of the best bits of dialogue I’ve read this year in comics. It’s an impassioned message shared by a man who was once Spidey’s most consistently great antagonist, and a truly surprising one as well that is masterfully executed by Bendis.Continued below
Recently, when we put together our “Best Marvel Books” list, I put this at #2 on my list behind Peter David’s X-Factor. Now, after this issue, I feel as if I’d be fine with putting an asterisk next to both of them as Marvel’s premier books. This is a consistently great and wonderfully told story from both an artistic and written standpoint, and I can’t wait for the big blowout issue next month.
Final Verdict: 9.5 – Buy