Review: Ultimate (Comics) Spider-Man #3

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Take what you know, and reboot it by turning it on its ear. Then when things get a little long in the tooth, send a wave of water in to cleanse the palette, and start anew again.  But is the newer actually better?  Six months later, and Spider-Man’s life is still all topsy-turvy.

106_ULTIMATE_COMICS_SPIDER_MAN_3.jpgThe good thing about Ultimate (Comics) Spider-Man #3 is it follows immediately after the previous issue, which means there are no giant jumps in time, or weird unexplained occurrences – well, except for that Mysterio guy.  Mysterio has placed demands on the city that he will take it all, not just a little here and there, but the whole shebang, and with Kingpin out of the way – shoved out the window to the streets below in issue #1 – he’s there to fill the void.   I like how Brian Michael Bendis shapes the character of Mysterio as a real mystery character whose powers we don’t fully understand yet.  We do get the sense that in his vaporous state he’s able to use a hypnotic air-born drug to make people see what they want to see, but how he’s able to do the things that he does make the character seem really fresh.

Unfortunately, his schtick isn’t that original either, and it takes Spider-Man mere moments to figure out that the giant 80-foot spiders attacking downtown isn’t real, but rather it’s an attempt by Mysterio to rob the gold reserve.  For years we’ve seen Bendis and his two artists put Peter Parker through a variety of fight scenes as he attempts to bring down the bad guy, and for the most part, it all seemed mundane.  Here, the fight is drawn so cinematically, that if flows from frame to frame and page to page, and the horizontal panel layout across a double-page spread helps convey the story.

Sadly, that’s about as good as the art gets.  I realize the Manga is all big, but in the pages of Ultimate (Comics) Spider-Man, it just falls flat.  Personally, I think it is a gimmick, it comes off as an attempt to attract the young crowd to a comic they are probably already reading – that is if they young kids know where to buy comics these days.  In some of the situations, the art works well, but the sharp noses, exaggerated expressions, and right out of the clothing magazine staged posing that makes me wonder how much longer I’ll be able to stomach the art before quietly informing my comic book store proprietor that I’m dropping the series.

Beyond the Mysterio storyline, there are still a few more surprises to be held within the pages of this issue.  While readers were shocked over the making out between Gwen and Peter, it’s an even greater surprise to find out Mary Jane is the one who broke up with Peter that drove him in that direction.  My guess it has something to do with that whole “I thought you were dead! How could you do this to me!?” incident that occurred as the last series concluded.
There’s also the question of how much longer Peter Parker’s identity will be kept secret now that Johnny Storm is moving in to the Parker household, turning the residence into the Wayward Home for Lost and Missing Superheroes. And with Jessica Jones pushing hard on MJ to dig up who really is behind the mask for the school online newspaper, things are going to come to a head and possibly blow up in Marvel’s face by issue ten.

The biggest problem in deciding how to score this issue is the line between the writing and the art.  Bendis does a fine job in crafting the story, and having the words flow from the character’s mouths naturally, but the art lowers everything because of the overly done Manga styling.  Sadly the issue could have earned a solid 4 or 4.5 had Marvel opted to stick with the previous art team, but I can only give Ultimate (Comics) Spider-Man #3 3 out of 5 Stars.

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