Ultimate Spider-Man #128 Review


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

Plot:
Eddie’s back on the bench telling another passerby his story. Shift to yesterday. Peter Parker encounters the Gwen Stacy clone aka new Carnage in his room. She manages to morph her face to human and explains she had nowhere else to go and that it IS her. Simultaneously, Eddie rings the doorbell, which May answers. She pulls a gun on him which he wrestles away and turns it on her. Spider-Man surprises him and carries him off to the nearest roof, where Gwen follows. Eddie says he came for Gwen because he needed the Carnage symbiote to reactivate Venom within him. The creatures battle, and Venom absorbs the symbiote out of Gwen, becoming largers and more powerful. Iron Man and SHIELD arrive on the scene. Peter again offers Eddie help, but Venom rejects it and oozes down a drainpipe, part of his new abilities. Later at the Triskellion, after extensive tests, “Gwen” is given a clean bill of health, but Director Da
nvers still wants her to remain in SHIELD custody. Tony Stark fights on the Parkers’ behalf, explaining they’ll alert SHIELD if there are any problems. Carol consents, and Tony promises Peter that now that Eddie has what he wants he won’t bother his family again.
Back to the present, Eddie morphs into Venom ready to consume the man beside him…and is surprised when he turns out to be the Beetle, armed with a gauntlet that literally sucks the creature into a containment module. As he armors up he reports to his “Lord” in Latveria he has the package and is on route.

LIKES:

  • May Parker kickin ass rather than cowering
  • Original design of Venom
  • Iron Man and Peter Parker’s relationship
  • The “return” of Gwen Stacy

DISLIKES:

  • The return of “Forrest Brock”
  • May Parker weilding a gun?
  • Expectations of a much larger Carnage-Venom battle
  • The plotholes
  • Beetle as a Latverian spy?
  • Forced conclusion in light of the looming Ultimatum

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Webs

Additional Notes:

We’ll start with the writing. The conclusion of this story seems a little forced, probably in light of the upcoming ULTIMATUM plot; Marvel doesn’t want any of the Ultimate titles playing catch-up. I guess part of me was hoping an ending similar to the video game, with the confrontation between Trask and Eddie. This being the final part of the Venom story, I feel that it could gone out with more of a bang. The idea that Eddie Brock bit off more than he could chew also seems to be shoved down the reader’s throat through the story when it should have just been mentioned in the recap page. The battle should have been squarely between Peter and Eddie. Bringing in Carnage and the Ultimates made these two seem more like kids caught fighting in the playground. It would’ve shown off more of Peter’s loner mentality and his versatility. Then there is the loophole of Gwen Stacy. Although she has a clean bill of health, legally the original is dead, and this fact is known by her classmates and mother. As to how they’ll be able her to lead a normal life is a challenge that Brian will have to figure out. One thing that Spider-Man stories always found a strength in is maintaining a loose foothold in reality. They can’t ignore the death certificate on Gwen. Either create a new ID or have her become Carnage again. Who knows? Maybe that’ll be the ongoing motif. Unlike Eddie, the creature was part of Gwen’s DNA. And that’s another plothole; I assumed that this was a clone created by Ben Reilly and Doctor Octopus. Now according to the synopsis, it’s the creature that was created in Connors’ lab? That thing was incinerated, Brian; you’ve got to keep that in mind. And the sample that Ben took from the lab? That stuff never went anywhere NEAR Gwen. I’m sorry to say, buddy, but I think the hectic schedule you’ve got has gotten the better of you. Better correct it in the TPB and HC’s coming out. As to whether or not we’ll see a role for her to play in ULTIMATUM remains to be seen. Lastly, I see this as now a LARGE narrative from the first part on via what I like to call “Forrest Brock.” So Eddie’s gobbling up his listeners for a four or five issue plot and no one’s calling the cops? It was a cute gag in the beginning, but it was slightly overused. “And that’s all Ah’ve got to say about thaaaat.”


Character-wise, the jury’s still out on Ultimate Beetle’s background. A Latverian spy? The state of Dr. Doom’s diplomatic status is very questionable in Ultimate FF bc of so many interpretations of him since the beginning of the book. That being the case, it demeans Beetle’s inventive skills; the armor was his own invention, and now it looks like he’s just a hired operative with no claim of his own. As for May standing up to Eddie Brock at the door, I’m sort of neutral at the sight of her pulling a gun on him. This is clearly not the pie-baking, sweet-as-sugar, doting woman we know from regular continuity. This is like the Sarah Connor version of May Parker. However, there are traits that we recognize, like the trouble she has dealing with Peter’s secret life, and her new heart troubles.  As for Tony Stark, we’re starting to see less of the lush that is parading around in the Ultimates, and more of the big brother dynamic he had going on with Peter before and during the Civil War storyline. This Tony seems at the top of his game, and genuinely cares about the kid. Maybe Bendis did this in order to divert attention away from Iron Man in light of the larger storyline. Then there is Eddie Brock himself. I had mentioned in the last few reviews that there was either some sort of psychological and/or physiological addiction to the symbiote. Now it looks like I was right on both counts. No one in their right mind would want to physically bond with a creature that literally eviscerates its host and takes over their life. He almost seems like Carnage from regular Marvel continuity in a way because of how the alien bonded with Cletus Cassaday’s bloodstream through an open cut. It’s almost as if the ultimate version of the symbiote left a bit of itself in Eddie as an insurance policy in case its bonding with Peter didn’t work out. And what I neglected to mention a few reviews ago (I think) is that a radical departure from the video game was having the Venom symbiote take possession of Peter as opposed to Carnage.
Director Carol Danvers’ character is structured to present the military, by-the-book aspects of her pre-Ms. Marvel days. Since there’s already an Ultimate version of Captain Marvel in existence, it would follow suite that he and Danvers would encounter one another eventually. However, what Brian’s known for is taking the expected and doing something UNexpected. And it might be handled by another writer; either way the foundation is laid for a strong female lead character.
In a nutshell, while the battle was lackluster at best, it served the purpose of tying up the final story before ULTIMATUM creeps its way into USM, and allowed Gwen Stacy to rejoin the land of the living without any strings attached. Stu’s art was good but still seems a little choppy in some areas. But I liked his redesign of Venom to make him more monster-like but still recognizable. That being said, Nuff said for this week!

Cover: 5 out of 5 Webs
As noted earlier, the redesign of Venom in this issue is a radical departure, yet still remains true to McFarlane’s original design. Yes the red eyes are new, especially without the white outline around the eyes. However, when you think about it, it’s still linked to the Scorpion version of Venom in Thunderbolts. You can still see the Venom-esque physical characteristics – the bulk, the long tongue, the teeth, and the talons. It separates him from the supervillain motifs and truly makes him an unholy terror. Great work, Stuart!

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