Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man #6 Review


Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: David Lafuente
Colorist: Justin Ponsor
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit

Breakfast at the Parker household is bristling with life at the table. Peter feels out of place because of a) the whirlwind relationship between he and Gwen, which she stresses to Bobby and Johnny, b) the friend status between he and Kitty, and c) the house suddenly becoming a halfway house for teen heroes. As to how to assimilate Bobby and Johnny (both hero ID’s publicly known) into Midtown High, May has Johnny dye his hair black against his will, while Drake has his shaved off.
At Midtown High, May introduces them to the principal as Peter’s cousins, using the flood as the excuse as to why there are no transcripts from their former schools. The principal brings up how last time they met he called the police on her because of his belief that her nephew was Spider-Man and how grateful he is that she’s able to overlook it. While noting Midtown is now over-capacity, he agrees to allowing Bobby and Johnny in as long as they’re tested. As to the white elephant in the air, as to whether his suspicions about Peter are correct or not, he’s willing to let sleeping dogs lie in light of a change in perception and feels having Spider-Man at Midtown is an honor.
MJ encounters them all and is in disbelief at the arrangement. Just as Peter invites a reluctant MJ over for dinner, his spider-sense blares a warning before a green multi-eyed robot comes crashing in targeting him. Through trial and error he manages to suit up, catching on quick that it’s targeting him alone. Gwen encourages Johnny to flame on and go assist while Spidey rushes out the door with the principal piggy-back style.  Suddenly, the red-hooded character appears out of nowhere to attack the machine. Just as Spidey rushes the principal into the nearest classroom, he turns to reengage only to find the machine dismantled and “mystery person” out of breath. Torch comes in to fry the thing for good measure despite Spidey’s objection to frying the evidence. The hooded figure is gone again while everyone’s back is turned.
While Peter and Johnny swing and fly away from the school, the hooded figure, like a ghost, rises up from the ground and tosses a dumpster away in frustration. The hood comes off…revealing a bloody-nosed Kitty Pryde underneath.
Elsewhere, Mysterio sends another podcast taking credit for the robot that attacked the school, claiming it’s because it’s clued in to Spidey’s DNA via a blood sample he obtained from the last fight. At that moment, Captain McQuaid and a SWAT team approach, also noticed by Mysterio’s cameras. Mysterio just notes “So close” before setting off explosives demolishing the five-story building.

LIKES:

  • Surreal way that Peter handles the new living arrangement
  • Lafuente’s “family portrait” splash
  • “Mystery Person’s” ID revealed

DISLIKES:

  • Lack of realism as to how Johnny and Bobby get admitted
  • No round 3 for Spidey and Mysterio?
  • Kitty’s new superstrength – Where’d that come from?!
  • Iceman lookin a little fat

ADDITIONAL NOTES:
I know, I know, I know. LATE AGAIN! Sorry, guys, but art and teacher’s college interviews took precedence. Someday I’ll learn how to balance my schedule properly. Now on to business…
First let’s focus on “The Parker Bunch.” I really like the splash page of the new “family” in the Parker house. The Last Supper and Norman Rockwell come to mind when you’re looking at this before you read the babble-like recap from Peter. The layout of the captions are meant to embody Peter’s emotional conflict both in format as well as content, and they succeed. It encapsulates the situation of an only child suddenly saddled with a houseful of stepbrothers. Not only that, but we finally get some insight as to how strong the emotional connection Peter has to Gwen…and it isn’t as solid as he lets on. I guess it’s Bendis’ way of letting the Pete and MJ fans that there might be a reconcilliation in the near future. And it shows that he’s not as together as he’s been written over the past several issues. Further it gives the reader additional information as to who is really the pants in that relationship. The depth of feelings isn’t balanced, and that’s bound to lure the Ol’ Parker luck out from whatever corner it’s lurking. Definitely a recipe for disaster and is classic Spidey. The in-house bickering makes it feel like a family, and it works. However, my one complaint is the design of Bobby Drake. Lafuente’s design of him makes him look a little on the chubby side, even with the buzzcut. Now you could reason that the shape of his head MAKES him look fat; God knows I went through that when I was younger than he is. But it’s like Dave’s turned Bobby into Charlie Brown. All he’s missing is the yellow-and-black tee. As for Johnny’s new look, I don’t know what he’s complaining about.
Now let’s move on to the Midtown High scenes. Let’s start with the bad news: hole-filled backgrounds do NOT ensure admissions, Mrs. Parker. You walk in to the school, announce these two are “cousins” lacking transcripts or even the NAMES of their previous high schools and expect this well-educated individual to test and place them in his institution? This is the age of technology, May; the days of typewriters are over. There was a flood? Fine. There’s such a thing as backup files! There is a TON of extensive work that would have to be done to solidify a new identity. They don’t have SHIELD anymore. In reality, ANY principal who would allow such a case into his school would be dismissed. It’s totally unprofessional. I don’t care IF he’s suddenly a Spidey fan and apologetic for May’s arrest. He doesn’t know the kids’ background in regards to whether they’re grade-A students (sorry Johnny) or juvenile dilinquents (again, sorry, Johnny). This is totally irresponsible on his part. He’s only doing this because he owes May and wants to avoid getting sued. Totally ridiculous. Thank God for the Myserio-bot battle.  David’s design of the robot conveys Mysterio’s narcissistic nature perfectly; Beck could have easily designed it another way, but the big dome wanted Spider-Man to know it’s him behind the attack, as well as those following the podcasts. The layouts were fast and furious. You have a sense of motion that’s been missing in the past few issues. You’re with Peter as he’s suiting up, playing hackey sack with his principal, and so on. And you get a sense of continuity from Peter as he points out to Torch the rules of etiquette regarding crime scene evidence. And what about that reveal of the mystery hero! Kitty Pryde of all people! Obviously it’s because her secret ID is publically known and is trying to use her abilities to help the public in a way that doesn’t result in her getting expelled. But here’s the thing: I know her ability to phase through solid objects enables her to disrupt electrical systems, and she can control her own gravity field. But how could she have tossed that dumpster out of the way like that?! Not even regular Marvel Kitty could do that. Is Bendis again working against type and granting her some upgrades? Does this have to do with that bloody nose? More as this develops…
And finally we have Mysterio. Huge let-down. This narcissistic streak conveyed through podcasts is good but it’s getting old. While I do like McQuaid following the evidence to his location, I was expecting Spidey to come charging in and leaving it at a different type of cliffhanger. But it looks as though Round 3 for these two is going to be interrupted by the Watcher story. The splash of the exploding building is brilliantly rendered; totally Nolan worthy.
Overall this is a read-worthy book, as usual better than ASM in my opinion. While the lack of realism in the principal-May scenes still reaks to me, the superhero action more than made up for it. Keep it up, guys!

RATING: 4 out of 5 Webs

COVER: 5 out of 5 Webs
THIS is a cover that works! It’s relevant the internal content, it’s hyper-charged, and it follows up on the sense of dread Mysterio left readers with at the last page of #5 with a perfect “Oh, $&%&” moment. Great job!
 

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