Ultimatum Spider-Man: Requiem #1 Review

300px-Ultimatum_Spider-Man_Requiem_Book_One_Vol_1_1Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Pencillers: Mark Bagley and Stuart Immonen
Inkers: Scott Hanna and Wade von Grawbadger
Colorists: Pete Pantazis, Justin Ponsor, and Edgar Delgado
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Iron Man flies past a helicopter carring the remnants of the Daily Bugle bullpen – J. Jonah Jameson, Robbie Robertson, and Ben Urich – descending to the Bugle building. All acknowledge the decimated Manhattan skyline before heading down into the newsroom. Jonah is sullen, remorseful, and in mourning in the death of not just the paper, but his wife as well, whose brownstone was one of those submerged by the tidal wave. Moreover, he’s still punishing himself for trying to tear down Spider-Man’s reputation just to boost his floundering sales. Robbie tells him to keep his word regarding printing a full retraction, since the website is still online. To help, Ben hands Jonah his flashdrive containing true stories of Spider-Man’s heroism that Jonah had him kill. In his shambled office, Jonah sits at his laptop, uploads the first of Urich’s stories, this one of a Stark Industries terrorist attack…
MONTHS AGO…Mary Jane Watson visits CEO Tony Stark for an interview for research on a school assignment. Tony admits her tenacity is what earned her the fifteen minutes. She questions him on subjects like the need to be so public with the Iron Man armor, and why there is the need to build weapons. On the need to be so public, he realizes there is terrorism in the world and he wants to end the fear by ensuring the public knows there are those willing to step forward and defend them. As to the catch 22 – or counterintuitiveness as MJ notes – of being that hero and yet profiting off of making weapons is that Stark believes that the human race will always be divided and the need for weapons…and therefore a need for him.Their conversation is cut short by a group of airborne Hydra agents come crashing through the window and others through the office doors, disabling Tony with an energy weapon. Their leader, a green-haired woman, tells him because he choose to insult Hydra rather than do business with him, his choice is simple: the armor or his life.
Reports of the attack reach the Bugle newsroom, and Peter Parker’s ears courtesy of Robbie, Jonah and Ben discussing how to go about covering the story.
Back at Stark International, Tony recognizes the pilfered hardware Hydra ironically used in the attack. He refuses to give them the armor knowing he’s dead anyway, but still tries to negotiate Mary Jane’s release. The discussions are disrupted by the appearance of Spider-Man, who subdues some of the agents before grabbing MJ and swinging back out. He leaves her on the nearest roof before swinging back to the situation.  The woman, now with a detonator, then threatens the lives of his parents, Janet Van Dyne, Pepper Potts (even Tony’s "friend" Uma Thurman). Again Spider-Man breaks it up and starts a full-on brawl. Stark grabs the device and smashes it. In the battle, he manages to make a dash for the nearest hidden room behind the grey armor prototype. The Hydra leader fires an energy weapon on Spider-Man before ordering her men after Tony. Stark, now as Iron Man, flies in from the outside and orders Spider-Man on the ceiling as he delivers a fires a unibeam on the entire squadron. He then disables the helicopter hovering outside and through a PA system orders other Hydra agents in the building to surrender, adding incentive via remote-controlled amors. Tony thanks Spider-Man and promises to repay him one day. Peter admits he could use tuition money for college…which Tony indicates as a joke before Spidey swings away.
PRESENT. Jonah finishes reading and realizes that even Tony Stark knows better than him about the wall-crawler’s character. Ben comes in and tells him to make that article about Spider-Man his best because as of the news coming off of the wire…it’s his obituary…
  • BAGLEY AND HANNA!!! Nuff said!
  • Jonah seeing the light
  • New York decimated
  • Different versions of Iron Man’s armor
  • Tony Stark’s mustache
  • No name for the one-dimensional Hydra girl
  • Inking on Bagley pencils seemed a little off.
  • Not much internal dialogue from Spidey
I’m going to start off this review with one word: Bagley. The last time I saw Stuart and Mark’s artwork in the same book, in Ultimate Spider-Man #110, I never thought that I would see Bags on this book again. That is my BIGGEST LIKE about this issue. One of the men who started it is at the finish of the first chapter in the fledgling web-slinger’s life. I had gotten on to mainstream Spidey book collecting with Mark was on Amazing and I’ve loved his style of art. His redesign of Peter and the supporting cast for this book are still maintained and haven’t deviated at all, which speaks to the impact he had on the title. Without him I doubt Bendis’ retelling of the origin would have worked. As for this issue, he really takes advantage of Iron Man and shows off more than one version of his armor. As to why he veered away from his regular Ultimate suit in the climactic battle I have no clue. Perhaps this model was closer to the commonly-known suit designed by Adi Granov. I could go on forever but there are those of you who want me to just shut up and get on with the rest of the review so thanks for the visit, Mark.
Okay, on to characterization this issue. Brian is continuing to add layers to Jameson in order to validate his sudden 180 in his stance on Spider-Man. The loss of his wife to the events of Ultimatum, the inability to get the paper back up and running after this, and the final blow to his ego being the witnessing of Spidey diving in to those waters to rescue a fallen woman. It’s amazing that man can even have the strength to stand. The visuals Stuart uses for Jonah’s moments are very good. He’s basically haunted by the "ghosts" of both his mistakes (the scandalous headlines of Spider-Man) and those of the truth unfolding underwater. And yet Bendis has a remnant of the man he is by showing him struggling to close off his emotions. The man’s been humbled, and Robbie can see that. It’s at that point where Bendis shows that Robbie is there to be more than the good cop. Him rallying the troops – though technically only THREE of them – demonstrates why he’s the editor in chief. It’s New York‘s darkest hour, and if this is going to be the Bugle’s last ditch effort to put out the truth, then they have to take advantage of any opportunity presented. It’s also Ben Urich’s time to shine. For countless issues, he’s been the Fox Mulder of the Bugle bullpen. He’s the voice of the common man forced to bury numerous stories that he has risked life and limb to pursue simply because of the myopic views of his publisher. And now, with Spider-Man believed dead, he is the only viable primary source Jonah can rely on to paint an accurate picture of the web-slinger’s exploits.
The interview between Mary Jane and Tony Stark was very well written. It also shows the versatility of Mary Jane’s questions and persistence. Fifty-three emails? I can’t fathom fifty-three different ways of asking the same request. With the video journalism segments that MJ has done, it’s clear that Bendis is trying to remake MJ in the vein of Lois Lane a little. This is another major departure for the Ultimate version of this character. She really gets to show off her mental prowess in hitting Tony with the hard questions. Tony’s all brain (see Orson Scott Card’s take on Ultimate Iron Man’s origin for details) and we see his precocious high schooler impressing her with both tenacity and use of the really big words. Her time in Peter’s world really given her some guts. As for ol’ Shellhead himself, Bendis tries to stay within the vein of what Mark Millar had put forth in the Ultimates. Brian pretty much uses MJ as the conduit for the reader to get into the head of Tony Stark, for through her we see a man with many complexities. He’s straddling the line between a multitude of contradictions: alcoholic playboy and armored avenger; global defender and weapons provider; idealist and pessimist; futurist and near-sighted. I would have loved to hear more of this verbal joust before Hydra burst in, and that’s the benchmark of a great writer. And AGAIN Bendis toys with the reader with the notion that Spider-Man is dead. This is a guy renouned for bending, breaking, and torching the rules. Could he be setting the Ultimate Spider-Fans up for a big surprise? Whatever it is, bro, it better be worth all the suspense. Of all people to write his obituary, Jonah gets the assignment. This is going to be good.
There were a few weaknesses in this plot. Firstly, though I  LOVED seeing Bagley’s work, Scott Hanna’s inks seemed a little too tight and simple. Also, I don’t remember the grays in Jonah’s hair to be so prominent; that and the buzz made him almost resemble regular continuity Jameson if not for the mustache’s difference. Then there’s Tony’s own facial hair. I know it’s classic Stark style, but last I checked he never sported anything other than the goatee in Ultimate continuity. His hair also seemed a little too long. In terms of characterization, the Hydra leader seemed a little too one-dimensional. Didn’t Brian do something similar to this back in Ultimate Team-up with Iron Man being ambushed by Doctor Doom’s robots and Spidey coming to his aid? It didn’t make it easier to not have a name for her. Then again, aren’t all cult followers one-dimensional? The biggest drawback is the main character. Spidey makes a few saves, hands a few Hydra agents their asses…but there’s no internal dialogue, or any major displays of his agility that Bagley is known for. It seemed more an Iron Man story than a Spider-Man story.
Other than that, it was a worthwhile read for content and the return of old friends. Good job guys! Can’t wait for the wrap-up!
RATING: 4.5 out of 5 Webs
COVER: 5 out of 5 Webs
This cover, at first glance, is reminiscent of Jack Kirby’s infamous cover of Amazing Fantasy #15 back in 1962. The only difference the arc of Spidey’s swing is changed along with his direction and his company…which is a fair sight prettier than the thug tucked under his arm. It’s relevant because the pair DO have an encounter in the book. There’s also a trick of the eye in this image. If you look to Spidey’s left, the portion of the building behind him showing under his arms – with its black areas – almost resembles the underarm webbing his regular Marvel counterpart has. Nuff said!



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