Friday, March 25, 2011

COMIC: Top of the Stack - Ultimate Spider-Man #155 (Review)

Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Art by Chris Samnee
Cover by Oliver Coipel, Mark Morales & Laura Martin

Publisher: Marvel Comics
Price: $3.99

Sometimes there are those weeks where nothing stands out from the pack and it was bound to happen to my reading stack like it did in this second week of March comic book releases. It was a very heavy DC week but neither contender this week came from the main DC line. A highlight was from Vertigo - a subsidiary of DC - with the second issue of Cinderella: Fables are Forever but having missed the first issue and being way behind on Fables in general, there was a lot of the story background that had me lost. That left the door open for Marvel's best offering, Ultimate Spider-Man #155, the prologue issue of the much hyped "Death of Spider-Man" storyline.

One hundred and fifty-five issues in and Brian Michael Bendis is still going strong with his legendary run on Ultimate Spider-Man. Artists have come and go (Bagley, Immonen, LaFuente) but Bendis has been the one constant throughout this re-imagining of the Spider-Man character.

In this issue readers are presented with a very frank conversation between Peter Parker and a humbled J. Jonah Jameson who knows Peter's alter ego and only wants to help. Peter's humility and true self as an honest teenage boy really shine through during their talk. Aunt May has raised a good boy. There is also the return of Kitty Pryde to the book, a character I really enjoyed during her earlier run with these characters and I hope she is around to stay. That part where Peter is pleading with Kitty not to run away again and that they are friends, emotional impact galore.

The cover is slightly ominous in tone in comparison to the variant cover by Pichelli and is probably a better representation of the upcoming conflict in the "Death of Spider-Man" story than specifically this calm before the storm issue. One thing that is great about the cover is Spider-Man looks like his Ultimate universe self, which is always the one big tossup when it comes to artists drawing in the Ultimate universe - whether they will will draw that version or lean towards the longer known 616 version of the character. And that brings me to the interior art, which for this issue is drawn by the fabulous Chris Samnee, who GeekPlate readers might recall was the artist on the short-lived but excellent Thor: The Mighty Avenger series. For the most part of the story, Samnee captures the characters and the spirit of the book perfectly, with the only nitpick being the difference in his version of Mary Jane to her Ultimate form. I do not mind the tweaking he did, because it was almost a perfect blend of all the MJ versions but it is noticeable.

Back when Ultimatum came around and rumors of Spider-Man's demise first came around I was actually fine with the idea of Peter Parker's story being done and maybe his female clone taking the mantle and becoming the first female Spider-Man and while it might be creepy she probably could have also slipped right in and taken over his Peter-side of life too. That did not happen and it leaves me to wonder where exactly the "Death of Spider-Man" story will go. I am not a fan of dark, unhappy moments and that was why I did not read the fairly recent issues when the Chameleon went around as Peter, and I likewise am not fond of stories falling short of expectations - looking at you DC's "Death of Oracle" arc - but I am hopeful that Bendis will once again pull a miracle and keep me reading this book and its fabulous characters.

Check out GeekPlate's Tumblr for today's Ultimate Spider-Man themed picspam.

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