Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #2 Review

As it's a really light week for me this week, comics-wise, I'm going to forgo the review column in favour of individual reviews for the couple of books I picked up. Up first is Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #2. How did the 'new' title hold up in its second outing? Hit the jump to find out.

Written by Brian Bendis
Art by David Lafuente

Quick recap of the first issue for those that missed it - it's six months later, the Daily Bugle went under, Peter works for a burger joint and is dating Gwen, not MJ, Kong and Kitty broke up, too, and there's all kinds of new villains in town, including Mysterio, who threw Kingpin out a window, and some new guy in a red hood going by the name of the Shroud. All fascinating stuff and the first issue did a lot to restore my faith in the flagging Ultimate line.

Flashing forward to the current issue, I'm fairly disappointed with the offering. I think the biggest problem lies with the Peter x Gwen relationship and MJ being kicked to the curb. It's not just because I like MJ more (I actually preferred Kitty as his girlfriend), but the fact this isn't the Gwen that appeared in the original series. She complains about possibly being shanked in the cafeteria despite being the girl that pulled a knife on someone at school before, is kind of a ditzy blonde making cutsey talk with her boyfriend and is far from the strong, confident girl I remember. I know she's died and come back as some kind of mutant clone Carnage thingy and there's going to be differences, but it just feels like it was put in place to have change for the sake of change. It's not story driven and I can't see how it'll be explained well either.

We killed the Kingpin off for this?

Another thing I'm still having a bit of a problem with is the killing of the Kingpin. It starts losing the appeal the 5th or 6th time someone takes out the Kingpin. This being the 20th time or so that I've seen a story like this makes it all the worse. Bendis did far better with that plot in his Daredevil run. Don't see why he's recycling it again here. It also reeks of the 'put the new guy over by taking out the old big bad' trope that Kingpin stories seem to be a magnet for. The final strike was the above dialogue (technically the entire scene). It's not entertaining. He just wants to be powerful? His entire motivation is that he wants "the whole pie"? He also had a big spiel on there being no god, no afterlife, no consequences and daring people watching his internet channel to come get him. I wanted to give Mysterio a chance, but this is just a terrible introduction to him.


About the biggest disappointment being the Gwen relationship? I lied. The biggest disappointment here was clearly what Bendis did to Kong. I think I'm safe in saying I speak for everyone when I ask, what the hell did you do to Kong, Bendis? Seriously, look at him up there! He has a purple mohawk and is wearing, well, I don't even know what that is. Plaid spandex pants? Leather jacket? He's even got piercings and other crap. This was the most improved character and best addition to the supporting cast in the entire series. Hell, I consider his finding out/revealing his knowledge of Peter as Spider-Man as one of the highlights of the old series, right up there with Peter telling MJ back in Ultimate Spider-Man #13. This was only the first appearance of Kong post-Ultimatum, so I'm going to hold out for more information, but it's a sad day seeing him fall so far and not just in appearance, but behaviour, too.

Up, up and away!

While I've been completely negative up until now, I want to say that the issue wasn't completely terrible. I did enjoy on some level. It's more of a disagreement with the status quo changes than it being a result of bad writing or art.

In fact, Lafuente does some excellent work with Spider-Man and the fight sequences in this issue. It's fluid and you can feel the motion throughout the fight. On the non-Spidey side of things, he's still very expressive with his faces, although there's a few oddities in the issue, like one panel with Gwen and Peter, but, otherwise, I'm quite pleased with his addition to the title and he's a worthy follow-up to Bagley and Immonen.

Speaking of the fight scenes, I enjoyed the new villains, the Bombshells, a mother-daughter pair of villains who's bomb-like energy blasts only work when they are near each other. At first I thought it was the Ultimate Molly Hayes, of Runaways fame, but I think it's safe to say with her potty mouth that that's not the case. I think the fight may have gone on a bit too long for my tastes, especially with what appear to be joke villains, possibly the new volume's Shocker, but I still liked it nontheless.

Verdict - Check It. It's a whole different ballgame from the original Ultimate Spider-Man and I'm still trying to wrap my head around the changes, most of which I'm finding myself disliking on some level, but it's still a good comic that most will enjoy.

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Kevin said...

I really liked this issue. The writing was solid and the art was great. I love LaFuente's artwork as it makes UCSM stand out from the rest of the comic book series.

The only problem I am having is with the Peter and Gwen relationship. Personally for the Ultimate Universe I prefer Peter and Kitty being together. This new relationship with Gwen just feels wrong after all the work Bendis did to make Gwen feel more like a sister to Peter especially with her living in the same house as him.

btownlegend said...

The Ultimate universe needs to just fade out.

Ryan Schrodt said...

Coming at this issue as a new reader to Ultimate Spider-Man, I had a completely different take. Personally, I loved it, but I don't have the attachment to the pre-Ultimatum status quo. Either way, great review Kirk!

Klep said...

Are we sure that's Kong and not just some completely different guy who also happens to be named Kong?

The Dangster said...

hmm. I wonder how Ultimate Avengers will fare? I hope that becomes good.

barryreese said...

I'm enjoying things though I must be in the minority in saying that I *HATE* the artwork. It's so bad to me that I'm considering dropping the series just because of it.

Jonathan M Perez said...


You are by no means the only one who hates LaFuente's art. I think he handles the action sequences deftly enough, but the stuff with Peter out of costume is just atrocious.

The scene where Peter kisses Gwen goodbye on the rooftop she looks like a Kewpie doll. The art looks like it is better suited to one of the romance Mangas available out there. Looks like Marvel is clearly trying to pull the teenage girl audience in with the art here.

I'm all for the book attracting ne audiences, but I'm used to a little more street-level grittiness in my Spider-Man art. Bagley and Immonen had this in spades, yet were still able to make the scenes with Peter out of costume, hanging with his friends light, happy, and accessible.

PMMJ said...

What's with Spidey's bubble-head? Is he wearing the 616's fishbowl underneath his mask?

Markus said...

Honestly, I was a bit disappointed with this issue. The pacing's a bit slow for me but what I liked about it is how they showed Kitty's power - and how she ruined MJ's cam.

I think I'll still pickup issues 3 and/or 4 but if I'm still left unimpressed, I might just have to drop this title.

highfivecomics said...

Not going to lie, I'm hating Ditz!Gwen with a passion.

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