Hello. I was only slightly kidding a while ago when I said that issue #150 of Ultimate Spider-Man was going to be a super-special, double-sized review. I thought I could fit this whole large $5.99 comic into one entry, but I sure was wrong. The extra section at the end of this issue, called the “Ultimate Spider-Man Super Special #1” was way too large for me to add on to this one, so for now, you’ll just get the first part of this issue. Then later, after this weeks’ newest comics and reviews have been released and heavily commented on (at least the Amazing comic and Gerard’s review of it), I’ll sneak in the final part of this review. So let’s all hop in our collective DoLoreans and head back in time for part one of issue #150.
Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man #150
Spidey’s 150th Anniversary Special
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Spidey & The Ringer: David Lafuente and Justin Ponsor
Carol Danvers & The Ultimates: Sara Pichelli & Justin Ponsor
Spidey & Iron Man: Joëlle Jones, Sunny Gho & Sakti Yuwono of IFS
Spidey & Captain America: Jamie McKelvie & Matthew Wilson
Spidey & Thor: Skottie Young & Jean-Francois Beaulieu
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Plot: Spider-Man engages The Ringer after the hooped-hoodlum robs the Diamond Exchange. The Ringer tosses metallic hoops haphazardly in the streets and Spidey dodges them. Spider-Man gets tangled up in two of the projectiles and falls behind a vehicle. As the destruction escalates and the gathered crowd turns hostile, Spider-Man realizes it’s time to wrap things up. He slugs the bad guy and leaves him webbed to a burning tree in the sidewalk.
Carol Danvers, the new director of S.H.I.E.L.D., is meeting with the Ultimates: Iron Man, Captain America and Thor. She reaches out to the superheroes for their advice in handling the Spider-Man “situation.” Unsure of how to handle the underage do-gooder, she turns to these men for their personal experiences with Spidey. They proceed to tell Carol Danvers stories of their own involvement with Spider-Man, each coming to a different conclusion on the matter.
Tony “Iron Man” Stark tells Carol a tale about a presentation he once gave at the New York Hall of Science; where he donated several old suits of armor. When the event was attacked by a villain displaying Stark-tech powers, Spider-Man sprang to action and defended the industrialist and the crowd. Spider-Man was sent flying by an attack and Tony used one of his bodyguards’ weapons to gain the bad guy’s attention. Spidey returned, equipped with the chest and helmet of an old Iron Man suit, and absorbed the energy attack meant for Stark. The counter effect knocked out the baddie. Spider-Man explained that he knew the Mark Nine armor had a built-in energy fluctuation shield and would protect him. He admitted he was a big fan and then passed out on the ground. Stark finishes by telling Carol that Spider-Man displayed a great deal of intelligence and bravery, and just needs more training.
Steve “Captain America” Rogers disagrees with his teammate, and tells of a time that secret plans were stolen from the Triskelion by A.I.M. agents. Captain America pursued the agents by helicopter, but was shot down by an A.I.M. laser gun. Captain America saved himself and two men in the helicopter with a jet pack. He was surprised to see the helicopter’s descent halted by a web between two buildings. Down the street, the Captain found the fleeing agents captured in another web, with Spider-Man sitting on top. The A.I.M. agent uses his laser to energize the web and cause a large, glass-shattering explosion. A fight broke out in the street below; Spider-Man accidentally webbed Captain America’s eyes. Spider-Man kicked the bad guy in the face, causing his gun to shoot wildly and cause an explosion behind Captain America. The two heroes are flung into the web which held the helicopter. Captain America concludes by telling Carol that he doesn’t believe Spider-Man is ready to be a hero, equating the situation to a child in the army.
The battle-hardened warrior and God of Thunder, Thor, offers his opinion. He tells of a Norse Mythology Exhibit held at a museum. A stranger shattered the glass surrounding one of the mystical artifacts and transformed into the mighty Mangog; a red, monstrous beast which proceeded to wreak havoc at the exhibition. Spider-Man did his best to tangle with the creature, but was clearly out-matched. Thor arrived and struck down Mangog with lightning. Thor swore to Spider-Man he would find out who was responsible for this, and told Spidey he was “a funny child” but also brave. The god tells Carol that Spider-Man has passed his rite of passage and simply needs guidance.
Carol deliberates and later visits the Parker House. Peter Parker returns home to see S.H.I.E.L.D. vans parked outside his house. Bobby Drake and Johnny Storm runoff, not wanting to blow their cover. Peter enters his home and is greeted by Carol and his aunt, who were discussing his career as a super hero. The director tells Pete that she could hold him responsible for all the destruction he causes as Spider-Man, or she could legally demand that he stop his heroic activities. Instead, Carol claims, she has decided to help Peter. The new plan, which Aunt May thinks is “a very good idea,” is to have Peter attend after school superhero training. Peter is stunned and left speechless.
Hot to the Torch: Ultimate Spidey’s grand, anniversary issue didn’t skimp on inviting anyone to the party. While in an earlier review I was bemoaning the constant changing of artists, the motley collection of artists in this issue is a nice way to celebrate this milestone for Spidey. With a different artist each tackling a different aspect of the story, the reader was offered several versions of the characters in the flashbacks shared by the Ultimates. The regular Ultimate Spidey artists, Lafuente and Pichelli, are teamed with colorist Justin Ponsor again and bring the familiar look to the main storyline.
The stories the older superheroes tell of their interaction with Spidey are nice insights as to why the characters feel the way they do about the younger hero. Thor’s treatment of Spider-Man as a battle-tested warrior who has proven his place among the heroes was the nicest sentiment any of them held. Iron Man’s compliments on his intelligence and desire to do well are slightly tarnished, in my opinion, in that Iron Man is always just trying to manipulate the younger Peter Parker. The scene with Spider-Man jumping to Stark’s rescue wearing part of his Iron Man armor was a nice looking action shot and hopefully the closest we ever get to an Iron Spider outfit again.
Bendis’ writing in this issue is pretty hot and cold. He wrote some nice lines, as in the beginning battle with the Ringer, when Spidey foreshadows his own fate by stating that all the amateur super heroes got some schoolin’ on how to beat up the bad guy.
But then Bendis has some duds, for example when Carol Danvers calls Peter a “spider-powered ferret,” or when she wonders if she should have Spider-Man “taken out.” His strongest writing in this issue may be where he wrote the least. When Captain America recites his personal history with Spider-Man, no narration is used until the end, when the heroes are caught in the web and Spidey tells Cap he’s a big fan.
The Ice Cold: Captain America comes off a bit jerky in this comic. It seems to me that the Ultimate version of Captain America is a little rougher around the edges when it comes to his attitude. When he calls Spider-Man an “idiot” after Spidey claims fanship, my heart sank a little. Furthermore, his reason for not liking Spider-Man seems to be caused by embarrassment. As Tony points out, Spidey was the one saving the day, albeit not gracefully. The “children in the army” belief is a more valid reason for Cap’s attitude. Carol Danvers attitude seems to be equally critical of the webbed-wonder. Even suggesting that she have Spider-Man taken out, especially knowing him to be a teenager seems pretty extreme. If I were Peter, I wouldn’t be thrilled at the prospect of working with her either.
The art of the flashback stories offers a nice variety, but is not without its drawbacks. McKelvie and Wilson’s work on Captain America was really beautiful in a classic way, helped out by the absence of speech bubbles. The scenes depicting the Iron Man story were good, but for some reason, everyone appears truncated, featuring bigger heads and smaller legs. The art in the Thor section was the most artistic of the bunch, but probably a little too artistic. I like Skottie Young’s style, but would prefer it in a smaller, more independent title, for example when it was featured in Marvel’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
The idea of the story as a whole is an interesting premise, but it has already been done in Disney’s Sky High. In addition, because I’ve read ahead at this point, I know that his afterschool training won’t start for another three issues. So when the last page states “Next Issue: Yep, Super Hero School,” and the training doesn’t actually take place for another few issues, the story idea kind of falls apart. How will he be able to train during the upcoming “Death of Spider-Man” arc, as well?
The Ultimate: A lot of action in this issue showcases Spidey teaming up with the members of the Ultimates. Seeing him save the day with some of the “bigger guns” in the Ultimate universe is really satisfying. An ultimate moment from each of those backups would have to be: Spidey donning the Iron Man armor to jump in front of Stark and intercept the energy lash, Spidey sitting on top of his web saluting Captain America, and Spidey trying to web the eyes of a much larger, much angrier Mangog.
Rating: Good, action. Meh, writing, art and character development. Poor, story. 3/5 Ultimate Spidey and Friends
“Remember that one time during the fight when it looked like you might actually win? No? Me neither.” – Marvel vs. Capcom 3
“Did I mention I beat up Firelord once? No, seriously. Firelord.” – Ultimate Alliance 2