Current Reviews


Ultimate Spider-Man #81

Posted: Tuesday, August 9, 2005
By: Jason Cornwell

"Warriors, Part 3"

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Pencils: Mark Bagley
Inks: Scott Hanna
Colors: J.D. Smith
Letters: Chris Eliopoulos
Publisher: Marvel Comics
$2.50 U.S. / $3.50 CAN

As Peter zones out another day at school we see he springs to life when he suits up as Spider-Man, and he pays a visit to Captain De Wolfe who surprise our young hero by urging him to act on the information that Kingpin gave him about Hammerhead. We than see him travel to Chinatown where he becomes entangled in Hammerhead's latest bid to build his power-base, but we see this encounter doesn't go all that well for Spider-Man.

Truth be told this issue doesn't really kick into gear until it arrives at the halfway point, but it does manage to make up for its slow start in its closing pages by offering up a highly engaging battle sequence that involves a number of exciting new players in the Ultimate Universe, and of course the welcome return of a character from a previous arc served to give this issue a nice moment to carry us into the next issue. The issue also manages to offer up a couple cute little moments that actually made me laugh out loud, as Brian Michael Bendis has some poking the enraged fan-boys who launch into a ready-made tirade when you mention what he did to the Scarlet Witch, and while it's an often repeated joke the aftermath of Spider-Man's opening attack on Hammerhead was very funny, and it injected some much needed levity into the book. The issue also managed to do a pretty good job of introducing the readers to the Marvel characters that are making their jump into the Ultimate Universe, as these two get a solid showcase that should impress most readers. Plus one has to be eagerly anticipating the big scene where Iron Fist's big punch makes contact with the seemingly unbreakable object that is Hammerhead's head. In fact the only real complaint that I'd make about this issue is that Spider-Man's extended conversation with Captain De Wolfe lasts far longer than it needed to. Now I like the idea that Spider-Man would pay her a visit before he decided what to do with the Kingpin's information, but the simple fact of the matter in that this scene served to completely stall the story's forward momentum, as if basically eats up five pages to recycle the same arguments that the Kingpin made in the previous issue. I mean I recognize that these arguments make more of an impact on Peter's world view when they come from Captain De Wolfe, but still five page was far too excessive, and this time out the cute back and forth material that was used to pad the sequence wasn't endearing enough for me to look the other way.

Mark Bagley is a very solid artist and this issue gives him the opportunity to remind readers why they should be delighted that he looks to be locked into place on this series, as in addition to some visually gripping action in the latter stages of this issue, the opening couple pages of this issue do an amazing job of selling Peter's isolation in the middle of the crowd, and the escape that Spider-Man provides is given even more impact after we get a look at these opening pages. The art also does some nice work capturing the humour of the scene where Spider-Man encounters a trigger happy police officer, and once again I can't help but be impressed by how much emotion Mark Bagley is able to project given Spider-Man wears a full face mask, and he doesn't even use the artistic cheat of treating the mask eyepieces like real eyes. The action that erupts in the second half of the issue is also well presented by the art, as Mark Bagley clearly understands the idea that such battles are far more exciting when the artist offers up moments where the heroes look to be on the receiving end of several painful looking attacks.

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