Review: Ultimate Spider-Man #133


Or – This Just In…Ultimate Spider-Man is Dead?


For 133 issue, Brian Michael Bendis has consistently cranked out Spider-Man stories that allowed many non-Marvel readers to get into one of the biggest and most recognized heroes in the world. Sadly, we’ve reached the end of the Ultimate Spider-Man series – at least in this incarnation, and it doesn’t look good for the wall crawler.

ULTSM133_cov_col.jpgThis issue features the fallout resulting from the Hulk smashing Dr. Strange’s Orb of Acmantata.  It’s an odd issue that has Jessica Drew trying to outrun the Hulk and saving lives with Kitty Pryde, all while trying to find out what happened to her cloned brother.  I’ve enjoyed Bendis’ writing, as he’s always been able to write witty dialogue even during the most rough situation, or express a major revelation during those silent quiet moments.  What makes this issue so odd is Bendis tells this story with no dialogue what-so-ever.  There aren’t even any sound effects as the Hulk pummels Jessica, or smashes rescue helicopters into buildings.

The lack of words does make the reader focus more on the images to convey the story, but the issue simply feels incomplete without words being exchanged.  Stuart Immonen is essentially forced to tell the story in pantomime when Kitty Pryde and Jessica meet, and it comes off as wasted space.  I could understand no words being used in the closing pages of the issue, and that would have more impact, but when the Hulk’s rage is damped by no words, in my opinion, it hurts the overall story.

There are essentially three tales being told in this issue; the Hulk/Jessica fight, the Pryde/Drew rescuing of more survivors, and the ultimate finale, where Kitty Pryde arrives at the door of May Parker and hands over the tattered and torn mask of Spider-Man.  The implication is that Peter Parker may have died in the explosion, and that idea may be supported by a panel that features a dead hand lying near the mask.  Those who are all torn up over this reveal need to keep in mind that this is a comic book, and even in the Ultimate universe, heroes probably won’t stay down.

Immonen once again delivers stunning images to go along with the story, but if I had only one complaint it is we don’t see enough dead bodies lying around.  A city the size of New York, that has suffered a huge catastrophe should have many more bodies littering the streets.  This issue takes place only a few hours after Magneto unleashed his fury on the world, so evacuation and recovery efforts are still underway, And I doubt the flood would have wiped away everyone.  Immonen attempts to show the fallout in a few panels, but the carnage may have been toned down to make the empty mask panel reveal more leading.

I had a chance to look back over some of the early USM issues, and was startled by how much different Bagley’s art was compared to Immonen.  When Immonen took over, i didn’t think I’d like his styling, but over the last two years or so, I’ve grown to really like his work.  It’s a shame Marvel couldn’t keep him on in the new series, but I’m willing to give David LaFuente a chance to see what he will do.

Ultimatum has seen the deaths of many superheroes, and it looks like those deaths are permanent.  In those cases (Daredevil, Wasp, Professor X, and so on), we’ve seen the dead and dismembered bodies.  With Peter Parker, we don’t get that closure.  There is a new Ultimate Comics Spider-Man arriving in a couple of months, and it is called Spider-Man, not Spider-Woman, so someone is going to be swinging around the city as it rebuilds.  I’m hoping it is the young master Parker.  There is no body when Kitty shows up at May Parker’s house, so either Jessica took the body, or there isn’t one. It wouldn’t surprise me if we end up with another Ultimate Comics Clone Saga in the very near future.

As a final issue (of the first volume) I feel let down we didn’t get to see the title character.  While Bendis is an excellent writer and serves up three well paced stories, it feels like readers got to see half of Bendis’ work here.  I was hoping for a lot more in this closing chapter, but ultimately was disappointed.  Ultimate Spider-Man #133 is good, but not good enough to earn anything more than 3.5 out of 5 Stars.