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Ultimate Spider-Man #46

Posted: Sunday, September 14, 2003
By: Cody Dolan



“Afterwards…”

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artists: Mark Bagley (p), Art Thibert (i)

Publisher: Marvel Comics

So let me get this straight; around 25 issues after Spider-Man defeated Doctor Octopus and Kraven, we get to see what happened in the aftermath of that fight. Said aftermath was actually another big fight, this time involving Spidey and a few ridiculously stupid S.H.I.E.L.D agents taking on Ultimate Sandman. Why are they ridiculously stupid? Because they charge into a place they know is a genetic testing lab and open Sandman’s holding cell (thereby unleashing him on the public outside) without finding out why the scientists had a naked man in an isolated environment. If you can get over those two details (the overly long delay of this story that reeks of revisionist history and the idiocy of the agents) then you should enjoy this book. Oh, and speaking of idiocy, who’s responsible for not catching the misspelling of Flint Marko’s last name? It’s spelled “Marco” in his mug shot two pages after his initial escape and that’s unprofessional and lazy to say the least.

Essentially this issue is one big fight scene, and what a scene it is. Rarely have I seen Sandman this violent and powerful and I think that fact added to my enjoyment of this book. Thanks to Bendis and Bagley I can see now that Sandman has been dramatically underutilized in the regular Marvel Universe as this book shows us how creepy and dangerous someone made of sand can be. Creepy because he can’t talk (which makes sense if you think about it) and can float like a psychotic genie, dangerous because conventional weapons can slow him down (although the “catching a bullet and spitting it back at someone” gag should be beneath Bendis).

Even though this is an action driven story, Bendis doesn’t skimp on the characterization, even though the individual we learn more about is what could be generously called a minor character. I found Agent Sharon Carter’s narration of this story to be a nice change of pace, and her insight into both S.H.I.E.L.D. and the new culture of super powered beings that’s being created before her eyes was a refreshing glimpse into how every day people would look at the phenomenon.

It’s getting hard to say new things about Mark Bagley’s art, so forgive me if I repeat myself. After dealing with an issue devoted entirely to talking, Bagley is able to showcase his abilities in this installment. The fight calls for some big time visuals, and Bagley (with help from the under appreciated Art Thibert) delivers in stunning fashion. The power inherent in Sandman come through not only in the way he moves but also in the crazy look on his face while he’s attacking anything that moves. This is version of Sandman (minus the dorky Freddy Krueger style sweater) oozes danger and intensity without once having to threaten anyone, and that’s all due to Bagley’s depiction of his powers.

This issue is all about setting up the Ultimate Six miniseries debuting next week, so I’m a little peeved that the price was jacked up 74 cents for what amounts to a prologue for a set up issue. There’s nothing earth shattering in these pages, but when an issue’s this good there doesn’t need to be. Weak premise and all, I have to say this was a fun read that I hope leads into a fun miniseries.



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