Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man #157 – Review


BANG! It figures that the weekend I decide to catch up on some gaming, television and reading, I fall behind and miss out on all the exciting news for Ultimate Spider-Man. By now everyone should know about the shot heard round the Ultimate world, as well as Axel Alonso’s follow up announcement that we’ll see a new character take up the mantle of Ultimate Spidey. In a spiffy new costume too. Exciting things ahead for Ultimate Spider-Man for sure. But for now, Pete’s in the crossfire of the Avengers and New Ultimates grudge match.

Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man #157

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis

Penciler: Mark Bagley
Inker: Andy Lanning
Colorist: Justin Ponsor
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Cover Art: Mark Bagley & Justin Ponsor

Plot: Spider-Man swings away from the battle between the New Ultimates and Avengers. After having just been told that Norman Osborn is alive and loose, he has no other choice but to return home and make sure his family is safe. Osborn, along with five of Spidey’s most dangerous foes, is taking refuge in an empty apartment. The villains remark that they are fortunate to have escaped at the same time the battle is being shown on the news and then they discuss their next course of action.

Norman shoots down any idea of fleeing the city and claims that they still have business in New York City. Otto Octavius approaches Norman, scientist-to-scientist, and respectfully tells him that he does not want to be part of Osborn’s plans. Otto tells his colleague that Peter Parker is their greatest achievement and they should leave him alone. Osborn takes offense, transforms into his behemoth, flaming goblin form and attacks Otto. Norman sends Otto crashing through the window and he plummets toward the busy street below.

Otto’s mechanical limbs shoot out from his body as he falls and prevent him from crashing into the pavement. Enraged, Dr. Octopus calls out Norman, who hurls himself off the balcony of the apartment to meet his adversary. The remaining villains – Sandman, Electro, Kraven and the Vulture – look on from above.

Chaos breaks out in the streets as the Green Goblin and Dr. Octopus trash the buildings and cars around them. Octavius loses the upper hand and pleads with Norman to stop. The Goblin is angry that Octavius would quit on him after all he had done for the scientist. The Green Goblin then kills a defeated Dr. Octupus in the burning streets.

Aunt May and Gwen are at home ordering something small and pink over the phone. Peter enters the living room in his Spidey garb and tells them to pack their bags and leave the city because Norman will come looking for them. May asks Pete to come with them but he turns down the offer saying he needs to stay and stop the escaped villains. Peter hugs his aunt and Gwen and then swings away from his house.

Mary Jane calls Peter and informs him that the Green Goblin has murdered Dr. Octopus, and that is was broadcast on television. Spider-Man finds the fiery destruction left by the battle between his two archenemies, as well as the body of Dr. Octopus. Spidey searches the apartment where the feud began but, sure enough, finds no one inside.

Spider-Man returns to the bridge where the Ultimates are fighting. At the top of the bridge, Spider-Man sees the Punisher level his sniper gun with Captain America in its sights. Spider-Man dives towards Captain America and shoots a web line at the Punisher. The gun goes off and Spider-Man pushes Cap out of the line of fire, taking the bullet himself.

*

Hot to the Torch: Despite not doing a whole lot, Peter Parker comes off pretty well in this issue. One of my favorite narrative methods for Pete is his inner monologue. Who else will you talk to if you’re always alone web swinging through the city? It’s not used a lot in this issue, but in the opening splash page Bendis uses the narrative boxes to show Peter’s inner struggle between joining the fray at the bridge and warning his family about Norman.

Spider-Man doesn’t appear in a lot of action shots in this issue either, but I believe Bagley has a knack for capturing Spidey in motion. Whenever Spider-Man swings away, or swings towards the reader, he’s always breaking free from the panels of the page. He’s always yanking down on a webline and pulling himself along in an acrobatic-like quick pace. That speed comes in handy when Spidey needs to race between his home, the bridge and the scene of the Osborn/Otto fight several times.

The Sinister Six have yet to take action other than within their own ranks. Electro continues to impress by displaying a surprising understanding of what’s going on around them and what the Ultimate fight at the bridge means for the bad guys. I was never under the impression that Electro was anything more than a high-voltage hot-head but Bendis is giving Ultimate Electro a little bit more of a leadership mentality.

The two villains who take center stage in this story are the Green Goblin and Dr. Octopus. Otto shows some good development by respectfully trying to walk away from Norman’s plans. Norman appears even more crazy and mad when he attacks his teammate. The fight that ensues is a matchup of heavy weights and is captured wonderfully with large explosions, loads of collateral damage and a satisfying ending, albeit an unfortunate one for Dr. Octopus.

*

The Ice Cold: The fight between Green Goblin and Dr. Octopus was pretty much the only action in this issue. While it was fun and packed with good moments, like the Goblin’s flaming fist smashing into the cold, metallic tentacle of Dr. Octopus, it only lasted for a few pages. That’s not a lot of action when the rest of the issue is just Spider-Man swinging from one place to the next. I hope that in a story dubbed “The Death of Spider-Man,” we will actually get to see Spider-Man in action.

As far as the whole dying thing goes, I am not convinced that the bullet Spidey intercepted at the end would kill him. The shot pierced the lower part of his upper body and unless it hit a major organ, I can’t see that being the killing blow. Especially when you consider that we’re still early in this storyline and the Sinister Six (five now, I guess) have yet to strike. Also, why didn’t Spider-Man go after the Punisher first instead of trying to reach Captain America before the shot was fired? This appears to be more of a red herring than an actual fatal shot.

Aside from all the Spidey-related moments, what was going on with Aunt May and Gwen? I would love to know, but not really, what little pink item they were ordering over the phone. Hopefully it was a Snuggie or something, because I’d rather not picture Aunt May in a tube top or something else more suited for a teenage girl.

*

The Ultimate: Even though the action was pretty light in this issue, the Green Goblin versus Dr. Octopus fight was one for the ages. It looked to me as though Norman’s goblin form was getting more and more evil-looking as he fought the redemption-seeking scientist. To his credit, Otto held his ground and returned as much pain as he received, at least up until the end.

I liked seeing Otto’s scientific side reemerge in his attempt to start his life over and rid himself of his corrupt past. Bagley does a good job of showing a defeated man resigned to the brutal fate he was soon to meet in the final shot of Otto before he was killed.

*

Rating: Good, art, character development. Meh, story and writing. Poor, action. 3.5/5 Ultimate Spidey 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

 

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