Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #2 Review

After a disappointing debut issue I was worried if Bendis was going to make Ultimate Comics Spider-man the must have series that so many fans wanted it to be. With little to no answers as to what’s going on and a boring plot and pace so far it seemed like the title got off to a weak start and if Bendis didn’t work fast he could lose a lot of readers. Hopefully he does better this time around as we take a look at issue #2.

Creative Team
Writer: Brian Bendis
Artist: David Lafuente
Colorist: Justin Ponsor

Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 10 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8.5 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: we open with Peter and Aunt May talking about how Johnny Storm is sleeping on their couch (wow a whole page in and the Bendis speak is flooding the page!) though we then switch to Mysterio addressing the world about how he killed Kingpin. He monologues about how he wants the whole piece of the pie and he dares anyone to stop him from taking it. (much better then fishbowl head)

Spider-man is swimming up from the darkness into the light. He sees several super heroes chained up such as Wasp, Captain America, the Fantastic Four. He then awakes and tells himself that he can’t be going crazier.

At school we see Kitty (Kitty! Oh thank god you’re here, I missed you. Please tell me you get more then one panel this time!) eating lunch when an Oreo hits her in the back of the head. She phases her body from being hit by more food then gets upset when Flash and others are throwing tons of food at her.

Kong attacks Flash for what he did and is wearing (oh god…what is that? Punk shit?) new clothes. They fight about Kitty being a mutant when the principal comes in. He’s upset with Kitty for using her powers and gives her detention. She then notices MJ has been recording this the whole time.

Kitty gets up in MJ’s face but MJ insists it’s to show the Mutant Discrimination on the school site and how it’s bad. Kitty refuses and fries her camera by phasing through it. Mentioning how MJ doesn’t have a boyfriend and MJ mumbles that Kitty doesn’t have one either

Peter and Gwen are sitting on the school roof having lunch. Gwen talks about how she doesn’t like people and Peter says how he wants to quit his job. They hear some explosions so Peter gets suited up and gives Gwen a kiss on the cheek goodbye as he then swings off to see the problem.

Spider-man soon finds the Bombshells, a mother and daughter team of villains robbing a jewelry store. The daughter, Lori is cursing with every other sentence as Spider-man remarks how cute they are. They blow him away. The mother says they have to get away but Lori insists that they can take Spider-man out.

Spider-man is caught in an explosion and his back is nearly charred off as the Bombshells are flying away. Spider-man takes aim and brings Lori down with his webs. This upsets the mother but after a blast she thinks Spider-man is gone. Spider-man drops in for a kick to the face and soon takes Lori down and falls into the garbage with her.

The police show up and arrest her as Spider-man finds out that their powers only work if the two are right next to each other. The police was Spider-man to stick around but he insists he’s got to go. He is actually frustrated that people like him.

Johhny Storm wakes up and Aunt May greets him. She asks him what happened and he holds his head in pain. (Wow, what a great cliff-hanger. I’m so totally in suspense now. Maybe next time we can end issue #3 with Kitty waking up from a nap)

Commentary
The Good: Ultimate Comics Spider-man has plenty of issues but also some positives mixed in well with the negatives. I can’t deny this issue was definitely a more solid and enjoyable read and it felt a lot more with the 3.99 price tag, and that’s what really gets me and what I want.

I could pay 4.99 for a 15 page comic but as long as all 15 pages are well written and is a fun experience then I would feel I got my money’s worth. It’s more about the content of the comic not the page count so I feel that Bendis did a better job of making this worth my money.

This is a standard that I wish more writers would hold to themselves and that they should understand that if the readers are paying an extra dollar now that they should make a better effort to make the story more worth it. Even with a slow pace I still really enjoyed this solid issue as a story.

The highlight of this issue are the villains the Bombshells, a mother daughter team that when they are next to each other have explosive powers. Bendis works fast at giving them a unique and fun voice that makes them great additions of the villain cast, even if they are a bit on the silly side.

I really dig Ultimate Mysterio. His dialogue is, while not overly exciting, still pretty good and Bendis is fleshing him out as a more credible threat then the 616 version ever was. I’m hopeful that he’ll stick around as a main villain through the series. Also I’m really excited to see him and Spider-man go head to head.

As I mentioned I love the Bombshells, their so wacky and funny that they work so well with Bendis’ style of humor. While it was annoying trying to understand what Lori, the daughter was saying through all the censorship I still really liked the characters. I’m hopeful that they show up from time to time even if they aren’t real threats.

My 2nd favorite moment is Kitty suffering from discrimination for being a mutant. Everyone is against her but Kong it seems and it’s really sad but at the same time interesting to read. Bendis does a good job of making us feel bad for Kitty and wishing we could throw a wall of French fries back at flash. Also Kitty’s reaction to getting detention for using her powers was a frustrating moment for her and the reader, proving that the old Mutant Discrimination can still be compelling as ever for readers.

We get our usual serving of Bendis speak, nothing new here but as usual it works much better in Ultimate Spider-man than it ever did in comics like New or Mighty Avengers. If anything his writing here is some of his most solid dialogue ever. Though again the dialogue between Peter/Gwen felt awkward and forced.

Lafuente continues to impress as Ultimate Comics Spider-man is now one of the best looking comics on the market. While I mentioned previously that his manga inspired art may not click well with some readers I think that now he’s moved beyond the obvious inspiration and his gorgeous art is great enough to handle it’s own and not bother people who don’t like manga influence in their comics.

Also Spidey’s head isn’t as round this time. Sure it still has some random moment of looking like a beach ball but at the very least to say I’m glad that Lafuente is acknowledging this problem and trying to fix it.

I also loved the coloring in this issue by Ponsor. Lately I’ve been trying to acknowledge colorists more ever since Laura Martin’s amazing job on Secret Invasion so I must say that Ponsor impressed me. I especially liked the design of how it works with the Bombshells.

Overall this issue was a step in the right direction both with writing, art and overall character work in bringing Ultimate Spider-man back right and making me enjoy the series.

The Bad: My biggest complaint is MJ. Sure she gets more then one page, but only one page of actual dialogue and what we get seems to point that MJ is now a shy little girl afraid of everything and even some human contact.

Now I could understand if they explained the Ultimatum changed MJ, made her a different person and that she was now reserved and afraid of the world. If they explained it I could understand, after all disasters can have those kinds of effects on people. In fact it could be a great psychological character twist. But there is the problem, they don’t explain it. For all we know MJ is just feeling shy for no reason. Since she gets no page time we have no way of knowing why she’s acting this way and it’s very frustrating that once such an important character to the comic is now shoved aside for no real reason.

Kong for whatever reason has been changed and again, this is not explained why. I hate the redesign of Punk Kong as it is, but at least explain why he’s this way. I would think that Bendis is aware by now of storytelling 101 and that you can’t just change a character dramatically and not explain it. That’s a basic idea and seeing Bendis gloss over these things is incredibly frustrating.

I continued to be creeped out and dislike the Peter/Gwen relationship, but what bugs me even more is that Bendis is trying to play them off as a really cute and sweet couple when really it just seems so forced. Nothing about this relationship feels general and interesting. It’s just like 2 best friends saying their a couple so they don’t look lonely or something.

I can understand if Bendis wants to give us a new relationship. I’ve already mentioned that odd as it is, I can accept this relationship but a key aspect is showing us why they are together. You can’t just say they are a couple without showing us how or why. Sure they’ve kissed but if you don’t explain the emotion behind or show us what makes this important then you might as well show us pictures of them square dancing. Either way it’s not going to make sense or affect the reader.

Also I hated the cliff-hanger, it’s just Johnny Storm waking up. How exciting. Maybe next time we can end with Mysterio sleeping in his lair or Spider-man and Gwen napping in a web. It’s just so thrilling after all.

I can’t help but feel that Bendis had more to write before ending this issue but he ran out of pages so he cut it off. This doesn’t feel like a good ending and it’s frustrating. I was expecting Johnny to say some big name character that beat him up or something but no, we just get him holding his head. How painfully boring.

This is a problem that Ultimate Spider-man has always had but the pacing is weak as all hell. Not only are we not getting any damn answers as to why there where such critical changes to the characters but this story is moving at a snail’s pace. I’m not even sure what the opening arc’s objective is. Bendis is really taking too much time to try and hook the readers in and is losing me.
I was a little confused as to why the Shroud guy from the first issue didn’t make a reappearance. He’s apparently important enough to be on the cover to issue #4 come November but not important enough to make consistent appearances? I know I’m nit-picking here but it was confusing.

Overall: Ultimate Comics Spider-man has a lot against it, but somehow it manages to overcome it’s problems and still be a fun read with incredible artwork that I give recommendations for. Even with a slow pace and some hit and miss moments I can’t help but enjoy this issue much more and am hopeful for more enjoyable reads in the future of this comic so I give it a strong recommendation.

2 Comments

  1. I agree with your comment about the cliffhanger. I think that if you're going to write a long arc, you have to rely on cliffhangers to keep people buying your book. This was clearly not an example of a good cliffhanger. A good cliffhanger would have been Johnny Storm waking up and at least saying something about what happened to him, even if it sounds ambiguous, like "Rosebud" or something."

    I really like the way Lafuente draws clothing, even that awful new look that Kong sports looks good. However, he draws a too-cute Gwen for my taste. Bagley used to match her attitude with her look, and Lafuente makes her look too tame. I point this out because she's in my opinion the ONLY character that is not properly pictured. Rest are great.

    The Bombshells rule, they remind me of old-school wacky Spider-man villains, with a twist. I hope they return for more.

    I disagree with your constant request for explanations. Firstly, I'm sure they will arrive in due time. USM is Bendis' baby, even more than anything he's wrote in the 616 Universe, which has its share of plotholes.

    However, I'm okay with not getting all the reveals at once, right away. I like thinking "Why is this character like this now? What could have happened that made this two characters have a shift in their relationship?", and more importantly "If this changed, then what else could have?". I think it makes it more interesting than getting the answer in the first issue after the change in the status quo and having less mysteries left. Of course, you can't not make the reveals ever or worse, keep teasing that you're going to make them and then not do it (Rulk).

  2. Next to Batman, Spiderman is my next favorite comic book hero. Great blog you have here!

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