Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Stuart Immonen
Inker: Wade von Grawbadger
Colorist: Justin Ponsor
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit

THREE WEEKS AGO. Bolivar Trask visits Ryker’s Island to speak to Dr. Curt Connors in the Maximum Security wing.  A week later, at the Triskellion, the Gwen Stacy clone is being interviewed by Tony Stark, assited by Connors, on how many memories she has from the original Gwen and if she can become the parasite designated as “Carnage” at will. As she tries to do so, Norman Osborn aka The Green Goblin causes an explosion that rocks the entire facility. Gwen uses that opportunity to escape into the Hudson and wind up on the docks shortly after.
THE PRESENT. Peter and MJ’s make-out session outside Midtown High is interrupted by Eddie Brock. He wants the Venom parasite back and knows that Peter is aware of its location. If he fails to deliver Eddie will expose his identity to the press. As Spider-Man he later tries to enlist the aid of both the Fantastic Four and the Ultimates, but neither are available at the moment.
Getting out of the rain at the Bugle, Peter surfs the web for more information on Roxxon, Trask, Silver Sable, and Trask’s interest in the parasite. He finds an article in which Trask denies his connection to the super-soldier program, nor military applications on what he has called the Symbiote Effect, eerily described in terms which Richard Parker used in explaining the mechanics of “The Suit.” Peter leaves his
web server on as he packs up and heads out for the night, which Ben Urich stumbles on and wonders what Peter’s up to.
Peter makes it home via webs. His spider-sense goes off at the presence of Gwen, requesting help because she’s apparently lost control of her morphing ability, hence 98% of her body is Gwen while her face is Carnage.

Likes

  • Ultimate Gwen/Carnage tied in to the story
  • The return of Curt Connors and Tony Stark’s involvement
  • Classic Eddie Brock invades the ultimate universe
  • MJ calling Peter “tiger”
  • Better sequential art

Dislikes

  • More irritating flashbacks
  • How much time has passed between the events of last issue and
  • Too many splashes divided into separate panels
  • Tony Stark out of his element

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Webs

Additional Notes:
I’m glad that Brian is trying his best to integrate the videogame story into USM continuity, and it pays off in some areas, while in others it feels like he’s trying to pull too many rabbits out of a hat. Like Tony Stark for example; for the duration of his existence in the Ultimate Marvel Universe he’s been half technoligical genius and half alchoholic. When did he suddenly become involved in biochemical research? I know he’s basically all brain (literally) but never before this moment did he demonstrate any interest in the workings of the human body. Then again, his background is in weapons and the symbiote has weapon potential so it’s not that much of a stretch I suppose. The inclusion of Curt Connors is a nice touch, since it was he who created Carnage and fate has poetically resurrected the parasite in the form of the young woman it killed. This plot twist also brings the menace of the Lizard into play, since it’s stress that brings the beast out in him. It’s only a matter of time before the guilt, pressure from SHIELD, and the dangers of the research take its toll. Then there’s Eddie Brock, masochistic as usual and schizophrenic just the way we like him as opposed to the Born-again Brock in regular continuity. I’ve said this in numerous reviews, and I’ll say it again; this guy cannot decide what he wants. It’s almost as if it’s a chemical dependency on the symbiote (and yes I’m glad we’re using “symbiote” instead of “parasite”) beyond the psychological obsession. It’s almost as if Eddie believes that by regaining the symbiote he regains the only piece left of his father.
I also like how Bendis is having Peter demonstrate his research skills. He really does show that he’s learning from Ben Urich. However, he’s still making mistakes, such as leaving his information on the screen for Urich to find. As for his finding Gwen with a Carnage face, like Curt he has a sense of guilt over what had happened to her, so this has to throw him for a loop. As to what he’ll do with Gwen is anyone’s guess. If she’s lost control of her ability to control the creature, this spells trouble for the web-slinger, and possibly his aunt’s fragile health as well. I already know that the clone is going to eventually snap. She’s essentially a composite of two separate entities thrust together. She’s the killer and the victim in one body, and for someone with the maturity of a teenager, that’s a psychotic breakdown waiting toh  happen. There’s no coping mechanism or treatment for that. It’s all on Peter’s actions (as usual) from here that will determine which route the new Gwen will take. But personally I believe that her future will be very red whether she likes it or not, unfortunately. The Carnage symbiote is part of her DNA, as opposed to Venom with Brock. Bendis has created a very complicated character, which is rich in intrigue because you can’t say for certain which side of the line she’ll fall on.
I like Stuart’s two-page splashes in this book, but it seems as though he’s overdoing it. He wants the art to pop off the page and he does that already without overusing a technique. Still, the splashes of the NY skyline, the street, and the Bugle were very well done. He got the hustle and bustle of the newsroom perfectly with more detail. I like that he’s using it to “animate” Spidey a little, like the way Bagley did, but he can do it without the abundance of splashes. His light and shadow effects in this issue were very well done.
Lastly, Brian, it’s getting a little confusing with the flashbacks, so please cut back and find some other way to merge the video story into this plot, please. Other than that this one’s a winner, guys. Good job!

Cover: 5 out of 5 Webs
At first glance I thought that it was Silver Sable, but then I recognized who it truly was and remembered that in the original comics, Gwen was a platinum blonde. The malevolent expression on her face indicates a hint of menace behind this innocent girl. However, she left the facility in confusion rather than malevolence. Again the shadows work and the coloring job was excellent. Awesome!

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