Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man #7 Review


Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Art: Takeshi Miyazawa
Colorist: Justin Ponsor
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit

Rick Jones as Savior??? May as team leader??? Iceman with icicles on his back??? New artist???

SIX MONTHS AGO. Marion Jones is startled to find her son, Rick, naked in the backyard and glowing gold. Suddenly he unleashes bolts of light from his eyes into the sky, then loses consciousness in addition to his glow.
NOW. Rick is still comatose, hospitalized with his mother reading the latest news to him. suddenly, he regains consciousness.
At the mall, Peter and MJ discuss the ramifications of May’s decision to take in Johnny and Bobby (ignoring the fact that his girlfriend is also living under the same roof). MJ tries to delicately point out that this choice could be the result of a nervous breakdown due to all the tragedy she’s endured as of late. Peter denies it, taking stock in the fact that she’s happy, moreso than she’s been in a long while.
Back in Forest Hills, May and Gwen come back from grocery shopping when they see the Jones family welcoming Rick home. They had told everyone that Rick had been hospitalized due to a drug overdose. Compassionate, May takes over some extra lasagna as an excuse to check on Marion. While Rick is alone in his room rediscovering his new abilities, Marion fesses up and shares her belief that Rick is a mutant.  May promises not to tell anyone, then heads back to the house and calls a “family meeting” to encourage the boys to “suit up” and talk to Rick to help him come to terms with what’s happening to him.
As Rick stares in contemplation at the burn mark made in his backyard, the three bicker as to how to strike up the conversation. Finally Iceman jumps the gun and ice-bridges down to say hello as Rick again tests out his abilities. Startled, Rick makes a colossal leap that carries him away from them as well as across the entire neighborhood. Torch manages to catch up to him, but only makes matters worse as Rick loses his concentration and returns to normal…a thousand feet from the ground. Spidey catches him but then Rick accidentally loses control again and the pair lightspeed into a diner…in Detroit! The manager scolds them both for ruining his business, even goes so far to try and unmask Spider-Man. Rick again loses it and says he wants to go home, glows gold again, and starts to warp again with Spidey in tow.
They reappear in Forest Hills. Bobby manages to catch Rick in midair and sets him back into his backyard. Finally getting a moment to explain their intentions, Rick tells them they’re wrong about him being a mutant; he says an “Eye” told him he wasn’t. Torch finally realizes what this is.
SIX MONTHS AGO. At Project Pegasus before the Watcher idol, Johnny, alongside Reed Richards and Ben Grimm, listen to it speak to them through Susan Storm. She announces the herald has been chosen. One human out of the entire species to protect the world and guide them into the future. Sue finally collapses as the Watcher releases her and vanishes, leaving everyone wondering who this herald is.
NOW. Johnny realizes that it’s Rick who’s been chosen by the Watchers. “The Chosen One.”
TO BE CONTINUED…

LIKES:

  • Rick Jones intro’d to Ultimate-dom
  • Peter-MJ discussion about Aunt May
  • Continuation of ULTIMATE ORIGINS
  • New guest artist does MJ justice
  • May’s first attempt at being “Young Avengers” mission leader
  • “Amazing Friends” Commaradarie

DISLIKES:

  • Rick and no Hulk?
  • Peter’s hair
  • Iceman’s look
  • Where is Spidey swinging from??

ADDITIONAL NOTES:
Here we thought that Bendis would never get back to Rick Jones after the conclusion of ULTIMATE ORIGINS. I am puzzled about a few things, though. For now we see Rick possessed of abilities on the par of Captain Marvel, and yet we already have an Ultimate version of that character. For a character who’s primarily known as the teenage dumbass partly responsible for the creation of the Incredible Hulk in regular continuity, as well as the one who helped found the Avengers, what can Bendis do with him? Going counter-culture with established characters is what Bendis does best and is often successful, I’m not sure about this one. No matter how large-scale Bendis bills him. He’s taking a sidekick and trying to turn him into a hero. I’m not saying it’s impossible. I’m saying it might prove difficult with a character like Rick Jones. More as it develops. Him having a mother and sister rather than being orphaned is also something different; I guess Brian decided there are too many orphans running around this book.
A good change from the previous few issues is a decent conversation between Mary Jane and Peter. For the past little while we’ve seen them avoid each other, and debate the sense that it makes for Peter dating Gwen (which as last issue shows is starting to get to him). Now we see them focusing on a larger change in Peter’s life. This works in that you see how much of a “yes” person MJ is NOT. She doesn’t believe that May’s in her right mind. Granted, yes, she’s had to cope with not only the loss of her husband, but also the heart attack and Peter coming out of the superhero closet to her. But as to whether or not her decision to take Johnny and Bobby in is based on compassion and not filling a void is a compelling argument. As to the question of Peter will start to doubt the sincerity of May’s intentions will definitely play out. That subtle beat when Gwen is brought into the picture shows it’s still a fresh wound for MJ despite the chat the three of them had. And as revealed last issue Peter’s not sold on the new situation either. However, she’s missing the point that Johnny and Bobby are orphans as well; Johnny’s father died in the flood, while Drake’s parents disowned him. Still it’s different with Gwen because she has that tragedy of losing both parents that relates to Peter on an emotional level. Peter knows what that’s like, and she feels that makes the bond possibly stronger than theirs was. Wrong, Red. She feels like she’s the odd person out of the equation, despite being IN it longer than any of those involved. And yet, being outside the circle benefits her in that she can see things clearer than Peter in regards to volatility of the situation. This speaks to the iconic rebellious side that’s present in both her incarnations. MJ was never one to just go with the flow like Gwen is; she has a mind and a voice and she uses both. Only time will tell, however, if she’s right about May.
Now let’s move on to everyone’s favorite Ultimate golden girl. In this issue we see a blend of the compassionate, generous May Parker that every Spidey-fan recognizes, albeit sporting leftover lasagna instead of wheatcakes. Then when the door’s closed, we see a different May Parker. And no, no Mr. Negative-infected old biddy that she is in ASM. She’s proactive, driven, and with a plan. We see her act like a parent who’s had years (instead of weeks) handling a house full of kids. Her methodology is rational; her neighbor has a son whose come across a life-altering experience that’s left him marked with extraordinary abilities. Now, if only she knew some kids who went through the same thing. Oh, right! Three live under her roof, and ONE of them is related to her! It’s good to see that May’s making Johnny and Bobby earn their keep in some way besides part time jobs and school. It’s not like “Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends” in which Angelica and Bobby were just freeloaders staying with she and Peter. We all know that this isn’t going to last, as the FF and X-Men will soon come calling. But it’s really fun seeing everyone get used to May trying to be team leader with quips like “suit up.”
Speaking of the new “Spider-Friends,” The commaradarie on the roof and the chase scene was hilarious. It’s ironic seeing these three together because that’s how “Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends” was originally supposed to be cast. But because the Human Torch was at that time being considered for a movie project, they opted to create a female protagonist for the show, and that was Firestar (coincidentally resembling Mary Jane Watson). It’s also cool to have SOMEONE to mention the Ultimate version of Firestar, Liz Allen. Since she vanished from the book to study at Xavier’s she hasn’t been heard from since. Whether she survived the flood or not I’m not sure. Anyone who’s a fan of the X-books feel free to comment and fill us in. The way these three handle the situation demonstrates one thing: Torch and Iceman are out of their element. Johnny’s no stranger to teamwork, but outside the difference in powers, he had become used to Reed having all the answers before going half-cocked into battle. Bobby, meanwhile, has had either Scott or the Professor to defer to.  It almost seems as though they’re both trying to be like Peter. They’re trying to step up but only wind up tripping over themselves for trying too hard. Rick’s reaction to the sudden appearance of Iceman is natural, and Pete’s reaction is as much hilarious as it is hypocritical as Johnny notes. There is ONE thing wrong with this chase scene. They’re in the suburbs, right? Away from tall skyscrapers? If that’s the case…WHERE THE HELL IS SPIDEY’S WEB ATTACHED TO WHEN HE CATCHES RICK??? A CLOUD?! Was Miyazawa perhaps watching the 60’s cartoon by any chance the night before he went to layouts? This LOOKS like something that the animators did back then. This is the ONLY thing weak about the chase. I like also how Bendis shows Johnny actually CONTRIBUTE to the resolution by pulling that flashback out of his head. So you get a DOUBLE-SHOCKER; the future of the world is in the hands of Rick Jones, and Johnny Storm’s brain cells haven’t burnt out.
As to the guest art this week, it had its strong points and its weak points. I totally approve of the coloring and style of MJ’s hair. Lafuente’s style is fine but his MJ leaves a lot to be desired. Miyazawa’s style, though still very manga, inserts some Bagley into the character’s appearance, and the lighter tones rather than the Black Widow-esque shade of red is an improvement. Still, while I hate them, he should have inserted the glasses into the MJ-Peter chat at the mall. She sports them all the time now, so I feel that Miyazawa should have stuck with them for continuity’s sake. As for Peter, meanwhile, maintaining the long bangs wasn’t necessary. It doesn’t look like a style a teen would sport. However, I do like the additional shape to Spidey’s head from the side. NOT TO MENTION IT LOOKS LIKE  A HEAD OF NORMAL SIZE!!! As for Iceman’s look, I’m not sure. In regular Marvel continuity, he sported a look like that for a while, but only after years of experience with his abilities. He looks like he’s got part of a glacier on his back that makes him look like a frosted-over snapping turtle. As for Johnny’s Torch look, I feel he’s trying to do too much. At a closeup of Johnny in the final splash, it looks like he’s combining the Kirby-esque lines on his body while he’s blazing while limiting the fire moreso to his hair than to the rest of his body. I just don’t know what the story is. I don’t know if a) this is how Miyazawa envisions the Torch – keeping his flames only to the upper parts of his body while the rest of him looks as red as the inside of a plugged-in toaster – or if this is a plotpoint, showing Johnny’s intentionally limiting his body heat so that the grass doesn’t catch on fire. Finally, in regards to Rick Jones, when I first saw his new look in Ultimate Origins, I automatically thought Sentry “The Golden Man.” I don’t know if that’s where this is leading. Either way the effects of his powers look definitely cool.
Overall, the art was a breath of fresh air as well as the direction of both May and Rick Jones. I look forward to the resolution in #8. It’s not a perfect issue, per se, but it is a good plot. My one note, however: I really hope that this is just a guest artist and not the beginning of the same tired revolving door that ULTIMATE TEAM-UP was. We have enough of that routine in ASM and it’s very tiresome. Let’s retain the same quality of art and writing on what’s possibly one of the few readable Spidey books put out per month.

RATING: 4 out of 5 Webs

COVER: 2 out of 5 Webs
This would have been a better cover for #6 because it dealt with the living situation. Not to mention done by the same interior artist. What does a fight over laundry have to do with this issue??? Yes it centers on May’s trying to live with superheroes and provide guidance, but there are LARGER issues in this installment. This has little relevance and if you don’t read the credits on the cover page you don’t realize it’s not Lafuente’s art till maybe two or three pages into the book.
 

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