Ultimate Spiderman – volume 1
Yeah. Volume 1 and all the tie ins I could find. Well, actually borrow which is nearly all of Peter Parker’s Ultimate glory (save appearances in other comics). Back when I was living in Cali I started to read them, but never got too far before I moved back to MN and lost my connection to it. With the recent Spider-Men crossover though, I decided to try and track down the comics here to try again – and I found it.
Apologies if this isn’t one of my smoother pieces because I’m such an amazing writer (sarcasm there), but I am admittedly writing this full out review off and on as I read through. Also, there may be spoilers, but I’ll try to at least avoid most major things – excluding the heavily reported on event of 2011. Added warning, expect some recent movie comparrison!
So one of my first thoughts before I tracked down these issues was with Cal’s comment on his own review/RANT on the recent movie to my assertion that Garfield’s Parker was “updated a bit for the 21st century.” Cal’s own response was that Ultimate Peter Parker is updated to the 21st century and I had to wonder myself: just how updated was Ultimate Parker for the 21st century?
To be honest (and I hope it isn’t that shocking), while I know the 616’s general history, I’ve never actually read his early years. From just being in my mid-20s though and that at least much of Ultimate Spider-Man was being written while I was in high school myself, I still feel safe in maybe not doing a comparison with 616’s early years, but at least to Ultimate to my own view of high school. And yes, while I may not have been an uber nerd, I was still an outlasted kid with few friends that the jocks and popular kids loved to ignore or pick on. So I feel for Parker.
Yeah, I feel for him. I may not be completely like Peter, but I at least under stand what its like to be the outcast. I even had a similar hair style to Parker. To be honest, I can’t really deny Cal’s words that Ultimate Parker was updated for the 21st century. Much of what Peter goes through in ‘Ultimate High School” resonates so much with me it irritates me or pisses me off. Stuff like that changes images, but I guess never really changes. I do think there should be shown a few more people to at least be nice to Parker, and save near the start all his teachers seem so stereotypical bad (doing things wrong like ignoring what Flash does or picking on students/Peter themselves during class for example) that its not a great representation. Then again, fiction almost never is. At the same time, that was 10 years ago, and the movie came out not a month back while a century is, well a freaking 1000 years. So I do think its fair to say, Cal, that there can be more than one updated version for a century.
Excuse me though, I stayed off course a little longer there than I first planned. Main point to take is at least for my high school days, this Peter is definitely updated nicely (minus the running off to be a super hero bit) for when it was written. Dealing with friends, girlfriends, how he even deals with EX-girlfriends is all wonderfully handled. Enough of that though…
Story wise, well I loved most of it. Of course, the fact that I was able to read through pretty much everything may have helped keep things interesting for me as no single issue really had much time to leave a sour taste with me. Because of that, I may be a bit biased when I state this, especially as I do often enjoy things getting an ending, but this series is the best American comic I’ve read. Probably the best comic/manga that I’ve read for that matter. Bendis does great with his stories for the most part. Having Peter deal with his rogues, help out various allies (or be helped by them). Two big things that I think I really enjoyed about this series would be this. First, we get to see Peter grow and improve. Yeah, he keeps making mistakes, but he at least gets better at things as the series goes on. That and it does a good job showing what happens with his enemies. We tend to see them locked up and taken away. If they come back, Bendis generally makes a good reason for their return (even if at least one of those reasons was rehashed).
Now don’t get me wrong here, this series is not perfect. This is still prone to character stupidity so things can be set up for a later story arc, villain return, or something else. Not to mention I get the entire hero/menace back and forth, but there are a good number of moments that the police try to shoot or at least arrest Spider-Man in such a horrible moment that you just gotta wonder how stupid they are! There are times it works, makes sense, and is done nicely… Just not all the time. Same goes for civilians of course. Oh, and random continuation errors. Not that those were very frequent, but there are some. Like issue 98’s rather big clash to the “Super Special”.
Over all, its a good read, even if I thought his death could have actually been done better. Of course, I knew it was coming, but I think it could have been done better. Probably my biggest complaint on it is it stemmed basically from a rehashed plot point that – maybe due to it being fresh then – was done better when it first happened in Ultimate Six. Yeah, some twists were added in, but to me it felt much of the same and a less entertaining fight.
To finish this off I’ll list what the main highlights of the series was to me. Beware of added spoiler possibility in the section below.
Much of this special shows Spider-Man running around trying to reach out to other heroes for help (shame he doesn’t get much of it…). Its Peter’s speech (or this case oral report) that really sets this up as a great issue to me.
We see Peter here dealing with Gwen’s death. Not to mention we actually see Kenny start to turn into a decent human being here. Shame he kind of just vanishes, and we don’t even get a glimpse to his reaction after Peter’s death.
This is the end of a pretty disastrous team up, but also one of Spider-Man’s real shining moments. The moment we get to see the type of person he really is when he ends up confronting Daredevil. The reactions of everyone there just helps make this moment priceless.
Most of this issue didn’t come off as that amazing to me. The reason this is getting highlighted for me though is Peter’s speech to the class on the final page about what a hero is.
Ultimate Fallout 01
I know above that his death didn’t do a lot for me. But this issue – mainly the scene between Aunt May and a young girl in the crowd really touched me. It may have even made his death fully sink in.
Cal’s review on Ultimate Spider-Man issues 1-13