Ultimate Spider-Man #5 Review

Ultimate Spider-Man #5 Review

Ultimate Spider-Man has been on a complete roll since it started. Jonathan Hickman has given us a fresh take on the Spider-Man franchise that doesn’t feel like it is retreading the same waters with Peter Parker and company. We saw that yet again with how the double date between Peter and MJ and Harry and Gwen went down in the previous issue. Even without any sort of action sequence Hickman did a lot to develop the four iconic Spider-Man characters dynamic with each other. How will things go next? Let’s find out with Ultimate Spider-Man #5.


Writer: Jonathan Hickman

Artist: David Messina

Colorist: Matthew Wilson

Letterers: Cory Petit and Joe Sabino


“THE SECRET HISTORY OF HARRY OSBORN! How does the heir apparent of Oscorp become a masked vigilante? And what does Green Goblin know of the true status of the world he lives in? All and more will be revealed!” – Marvel Comics


There is no writer that does long term planning like Jonathan Hickman. An issue like Ultimate Spider-Man #5 is a great example of that. With this issue Hickman, along with guest artist David Messina, take the time to step back and flesh out Ultimate Harry Osborn’s character. In the process, Hickman is able to utilize what we learn about Harry to reframe the context of the previous four issues of Ultimate Spider-Man.

Similar to the previous issue, Hickman and Messina take a one-shot style approach to how Ultimate Spider-Man #5 is framed. That works to the strength of the narrative around Ultimate Harry Osborn that is built. At no point does it feel like we are going to be stuck in a long origin story. Things are made clear by how the story is paced we will be getting all we need to know about the character in this one issue. Establishing that pacing allows you as the reader to be more along for the ride of a key angle of the greater narrative.

Learning more about how Harry and Gwen Stacy took over not only Osborn Industries but also Stane-Stark Industry added more context to their character. Specifically, we see how Harry and Gwen have a more business-like dynamic as a married couple. We saw that in Ultimate Spider-Man #4 and here that is expanded on. It’s a lot of subtle things from how they talk and emote to one another.

We especially see this with how Gwen make sure they treat Harry becoming Green Goblin as a business partnership with Otto Octavius. This gives greater depth to how Harry and Otto adapted the Iron Man tech into becoming Ultimate Green Goblin. This in turn lays the groundwork for how we are likely to see the Iron Man tech manipulated during Tony Stark’s absence. The hints at Otto eventual villain turn play well into the Green Goblin origin while not overshadowing it.

Ultimate Spider-Man #5 Interior Artwork
Gwen Stacy makes sure she and Harry Osborn establish a tight lip business relationship with Otto Octavius in Ultimate Spider-Man #5. Credit: Marvel Comics

Through this we learn how Tony Stark didn’t put as many security measures as he tried to make things right for the direction of the Ultimate Universe. The fact that a random thief was able to obtain the Shocker gauntlets puts into question Stark’s motives. If he was willing to provide potential villains with their items along with heroes there are likely be much deeper things going on when the Ultimates return.

Through all of this Hickman drives home how Harry isn’t looking to be a superhero like Peter Parker is. While he is being a protector right now as Green Goblin he is doing it for a much longer play. The conversation Harry has with both Peter and Bullseye, separately, indicates the less heroic side of Harry. The conversation with Bullseye opens the door for The Maker’s Council to play a bigger role in the story moving forward.

All of that said, it is disappointing that we have now gone two issues without any sort of Spider-Man action. With how invested Hickman has made us into the Parker Family their absence is certainly noticeable. The fun dynamic Peter, MJ, and Mayday have shared in these comic books is missing from Ultimate Spider-Man #5. Sticking to such a serious tone makes this not feel like we are reading a Spider-Man comic book but something else entirely. That disconnect shows how important the Parker Family is to the success of this series.

David Messina steps in to provide a lot of great grounded artwork. Messina’s art style is the right fit for the story direction focused on world building around Ultimate Harry Osborn. The story looks much more grounded, which works to for how much business and tech talk there is. The final scene between Harry and Bullseye in particular hits on the dark tone the writing is going for as the former further establish themselves as Green Goblin.


Ultimate Spider-Man #5 is a world building issue centered around Harry Osborn’s Green Goblin origin story. While the absence of the Parker Family is certainly felt, Jonathan Hickman makes up for it with more great character and world building. The one-shot style pacing helped to maintain interest in what goes on to look forward to where the developments involving Harry, Gwen Stacy, and Otto Octavius will lead to.

Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10

Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10

Overall Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10

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