Dum, dum, dum. Honey what have you done? In this issue, somebody’s got a gun. Well, besides Kraven, he’s got a couple. The pot is boiling over as we now race to the conclusion of “The Death of Spider-Man.” Dr. Octopus has been murdered by the Green Goblin and Iceman and the Human Torch have been knocked out of the fight. Now, Spidey must face four of his toughest adversaries all on his own while fighting to stay conscious. Will this mysterious gunman (spoiler, it’s not someone named Janie) be Spider-Man’s savior, or another hurdle for Peter to spider-leap over? Read on to find out.

Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man #159

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis

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

Plot: Electro, Sandman and Kraven surround a wounded and unmasked Peter Parker in his home neighborhood of Queens, New York. Peter lies and tells his foes that the Ultimates are coming to arrest the escapees, but Electro calls his bluff, stating that Spider-Man is just injured and desperate.

When the villains pounce, Peter kicks the top off a fire hydrant and directs the gushing water at his enemies. Electro explodes when he comes in contact with the spray and knocks himself and his teammates out. Spidey follows up the initial attack with a teeth-shattering punch after snagging the downed Electro with a web-line.

An exhausted Peter falls to his knees in front of his neighbors, who had gathered around the chaos. He asks them to call 911 as a few take pictures of the unveiled hero. A soggy Sandman rises up and crashes down on Peter who manages to shoot out a web-line and escape from the fray.

The Vulture has recovered as well and is waiting for Spidey as he breaks free from the sand attack. The villain slashes out at Peter’s back with his sharpened wings, sending him crashing into a parked car. Pete’s spidey-sense blares, warning him of the bombs the Vulture lobbed toward the street. The resulting explosion overwhelms the net of webbing Peter spun around them, and sends him sprawling in the grass.

Elsewhere, Aunt May is driving away from their home with Gwen. She is upset that she left Peter behind to face the fight alone. She receives a call from Doris, one of her neighbors. Doris tells May that she thinks Peter is Spider-Man and is being killed in the street. May slams on the breaks and makes a u-turn.

In tandem, Sandman and Vulture toss Spidey into a mailbox on the sidewalk. Doris runs up to Peter and tells him that he needs to come with her if he wants to live. When Sandman comes in for another attack, Electro zaps his teammate, and asserts that he will be the one to kill Spider-Man. Peter taunts Electro before he is able to inflict a killing-blow and the villain is shot three times by a mysterious gunman.

Electro blows up in a burst of energy taking Sandman and Vulture down for the count. Aunt May holds the smoking gun. Peter walks over to his Aunt who appears to be in shock, and takes the gun from her. They hug before Peter collapses in her arms. Gwen checks on Bobby and Johnny who are still unconscious from their encounter with the villains. The reprieve is short-lived, however, as Norman Osborn has recovered and is now standing over May and Peter in his frightful, flaming form.

*

Hot to the Torch: I’m pleased with the art in this story. I like all the small additions to the art that make it pop. In this issue you see all the ice ramps that Bobby had formed in the previous pages of Ultimate Spider-Man, reminding you that he was part of this fight. When Electro was not surrounded in energy, you could see burn marks on his body which I also thought was an interesting touch. Bagley’s variation of the spider-sense was also nice.

The art complimented the action again really well. All the explosions and fires that littered the battlefield were a nice backdrop to the fighting. One of my favorite moves in Spider-Man’s arsenal is when he uses a web-line to snag his enemies. He grabs Electro in this issue with a web-line and delivers such a powerful blow when he pulls him towards him that several of the villain’s teeth fly from his mouth.

I’m also pleased to see Spider-Man finally get more involved with the action. It’s a shame that it only came after he was shot, which means that most of the action is against Peter. That’s not a problem though, since we still have an issue left for him to persevere. Peter’s ability to beat the odds is what Spider-Man should be about, and that resilience is put to test when he is not at full strength against three of his deadliest villains.

This type of action makes for good storytelling as well. Peter needs to be creative with how he defeats his enemies since he is hurting and not on top of his game. Using the fire hydrant to disable Electro for a while was a great move and shows Peter’s brilliance. Trying to web up Vulture’s explosives was another nice attempt by Peter to use his intuitiveness. He was also helped out by the inevitable in-team bickering when Electro attacked Sandman near the end.

*

The Ice Cold: The thing that ultimately brought down the action and story may have been the way this chapter ended. May’s shooting of Electro seemed pretty extreme to me, but how else would she respond when she sees her nephew about to be murdered? However, my main gripe with it was how May was able to get back to the scene of the action so fast. She and Gwen had been driving away since last issue so I expected them to be farther away and was surprised to see them arrive so soon. Gwen’s opinion that it was awesome that May had just shot someone seemed a little crass as well.

It seemed really foolish that all the neighbors were just standing around. It wasn’t very considerate of them to just stand there taking pictures of their neighbor dying, especially when they were in danger of being flash-fried as well. Doris was the only good Samaritan, and she was sensible, hiding in her house and informing May about the danger her nephew was facing.

Doris kind of loses a bit of respectability though when she leaves her safe quarters to offer Peter protection. Her line of “come with me if you want to live,” felt a bit cliché. The writing was alright for the most part, but there were some missed opportunities in my mind for some better narrative. Vulture telling Peter to “go to hell” and then Peter’s potentially last cut-down for Electro was a bit lacking.

*

The Ultimate: This story has really picked up as it races towards the climax, and it’s nice to know that the Green Goblin will carry on the fighting in the last issue. The action could have wrapped up in this chapter, with May shooting Electro, and then the last part of the story could have dealt with the fallout and the potential death of Peter. But with the Goblin back in the fold, and looking really ticked off, it’ll take a little bit more than a gun to stop him. I’m expecting the Avengers and New Ultimates to make an appearance in the last arc to help Peter out, but I’m looking forward to what I’m hoping will be a pretty satisfying conclusion to an enjoyable story so far.

*

Rating: Great, art. Good, action and story. Meh, character development and writing. 4.5/5 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

9 Responses to “Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man #159 – Review”

  1. #1 Sarcasmic says:

    A.) I thought the people filming was intentional… It shows how Peter is willing to lay down his life to protect those who would abandon them. It makes what could be Peter’s final act all the more heroic.

    B.) 4.5/5 for me as well, just because that damn Terminator line took me out of the comic. I was super invested reading it, and then to read that totally took me out.

    C.) Let’s not forget Peter’s humor in the face of Danger. Electro was about to fry him and he was still making quips.

    D.) Bets on whether Peter dies or not? We’ve had Peter unmasked to the world before, so I think Bendis might try something new and have him die.

  2. #2 Brian Bradley says:

    I agree that it was intentional to have them filming. At this point, Peter doesn’t give a second thought to his identity, which is good character development point for him. Just thought it was in poor taste on the part of all the onlookers. I guess maybe they were stunned by the events unfolding around them, or just too caught up in the hollywood/reality tv/internet lifestyle that most Americans are swept up in and figured they could make a quick buck on the video.

    The last line he used on Electro just didn’t seem as funny as I would have liked it to have been. If those were to be his final words, it could have been a little bit more epic. This one just seemed like a “psych, made you look” type gag instead of a witty zinger.

    I’m still of the mind that Pete won’t die. I think SHIELD will tuck him away for a while and they’ll make a press release saying that he died or something in order to take some heat off of him and his family. But killing him off will be interesting… if that does in fact happen. It’ll be interesting to see how involved the Parker extended family will be in the new Ultimate Spider-Man stories.

  3. #3 Donovan Grant says:

    Oh I friggin’ loved this issue. Best USM story I’ve read in years.

  4. #4 Sthenurus says:

    People standing around and filming instead of helping is a pretty common occurance sadly. I live in montreal, which is a rather big city) and a girl got raped in the metro during rush hour in front of everyone (not a real rape mind you, it was for a study, but people didnt know that). Guess what the results were. 2 people called the cops, the other turned a blind eye and walked away. No one interfered or anything. So, that is actually a pretty, if sad, interpretation of what would really happen if it happens in real life.

  5. #5 Brian Bradley says:

    @4… that is really really sad, but not surprising. At least it’s a human issue and not just an American issue. I can kind of understand the not interfering thing… but I’m probably considered pretty cowardly and you would have no idea what dangers the antagonist may have. Calling the cops should be a nobrainer though at least.

  6. #6 Two-Bit Specialist says:

    I’m with Sthenurus. People standing around and doing nothing is par on course with real life. I know a guy who witnessed a car crash, stuck around to give his witness, and then later was sued by the dude responsible for the crash. Most people don’t want to deal with that kinda thing, so they just don’t get involved.

  7. #7 Nathaniel Collins says:

    This issue was really good. It just adds the potential dramatic conclusion that this kid might not actually make it out alive. I’m not saying he’ll die yet but who knows with the Ultimate Universe.

  8. #8 Ebony Leopard says:

    Ultimate Spider-Man has been hitting it out of the park since it’s restart, a very big shame they are now going to be killing this Peter too. We just keep losing Peters we are interested in only to be replaced by someone else (616 Peter is hiding in Mephisto’s basement somewhere, least the soul part of him).

  9. #9 butters911 says:

    I agree. USM has had me hooked since the re launch. I love the ‘Aunt May, boarding house’ angle