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Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #5

A comic review article by: Jason Sacks
Just another fun and oddly tangled issue of Ultimate Comics Spider-Man here, as Bobby Drake arrives and causes problems, Mysterio's fight with Spidey doesn't go well for Pete, and we learn about the problems that Kitty is having since the Ultimatum destroyed much of New York.

I really enjoy the way this book has handled the aftermath of the destruction caused by the Ultimatum. Those events always seem to linger in the background of Bendis's stories for this comic, always acting as a strong motivator for characters to take the actions that they take. That's a great use of continuity not as a straightjacket but as a story engine. It's continuity as a way to create new stories for characters based on the new status quo that's been created.

That's a smart decision on Bendis's part because it addresses one of the core reasons for rebooting the Ultimate Universe books: a sense of drift in the comics. There was a sense before the Ultimatum that the Ultimate books were beginning to fall victim to the same problems that the main Marvel books had fallen into, namely tangled continuity and muddled characterization.

The apocalypse event and its aftermath have done a good job of cleaning up those issues with continuity and characterization. Bendis has done a nice job of bringing characters from the Ultimate X-Men series into this series without it feeling odd or awkward. In fact, the addition of Bobby Drake, a.k.a. Iceman, into this series feels perfectly natural and logical.

I like how Bobby is a bit beaten down, how he's so hated for being a mutant that his own mother has thrown him out of the house. I like how Aunt May has become a bit of a mother hen to so many of the young super-powered kids just trying to get by in the post-Ultimatum world. But most of all I like how a reader can almost empathize with Bobby's parents for throwing him out of the house. It almost seems a logical decision in light of the destruction of New York to want to shove anyone with powers as far away from you as possible – even your own child.

We even see a bit of the other side of the tension as Kitty's mother struggles to keep her child in school and not suffer discrimination because of her powers. Kitty's mom stands beside her daughter, but we can easily see how the stress of having a super-powered teenage child can badly affect a family.

Which goes to show, in part, that Aunt May is a real hero, and makes me concerned about her and the future of that very busy little house in Forest Hills. After all, the house now contains Aunt May, Spider-Man, the Human Torch, Iceman, and a clone of the dead Gwen Stacy. How much weirdness can one ordinary house take before it completely falls apart?

I also like how, in typical Spider-Man fashion, all this home turmoil isn't even the most complicated thing on Peter's plate, as his battle with Mysterio doesn't exactly go as well as Spidey wanted it to. Heck, Spidey can admit it, so I can too: "So you know it wasn't so much me kicking his ding ding as me caught with my tights down and he spanking me around until someone else showed up and saved me." Who is the mystery person who saved Pete from a terrible spanking? My money's on one of the clones, but I wouldn't be surprised if it ends up being someone totally different – someone who would cause Pete no end of angst once he found out that person had saved him.

I'm not a great fan of Brian Michael Bendis's writing, but as many commentators have mentioned, his shtick seems perfect for this book. This issue is very centered on conversations and dialogue, and Bendis's quirk conversational style fits the issue well. I did get a little tired of his standard way of having one character interrupt another continuously, but at least it fits this story well.

I know that David Lafuente's art has been a bit controversial on this title, and I would have preferred to see art by Mark Bagley or Stuart Immonen than Lafuente. His characters just don't have the heft or realism that the other two artists provided, and I find Lafuente's faces to be awkward – a weakness in a series like this one. But his work isn't terrible, and it does an effective job of moving the story forward.

So just another month of the Ultimate Universe Spider-Man, and yet another month of high quality and fun super-hero action. Ain't nothing wrong with that.




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