Spider-Man is living with Johnny Storm, Bobby Drake, Aunt May, and maybe girlfriend Gwen Stacy. With all the heroes living in an unassuming house in an unassuming neighborhood in New York, things should be pretty normal, right?
ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #152
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artists: Sara Pichelli and David Lafuente
Colorist: Justin Ponsor
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Cover: J. Scott Campbell and Justing Ponsor
Editor: Mark Paniccia
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Previously in Ultimate Spider-Man: DRAMA! Gwen Stacy ran away from home after not being able to cope with the chaos, but changed her mind and cames home. SHIELD made the decision to send Peter to after school hero training, and Iron Man showed up at the Parker household in the middle of the afternoon looking for the pint-sized hero.
There’s a lot and not a lot of things that go on in the issues. Iron Man comes off as a complete idiot when he shows up in full gear asking around for Spider-Man. For some reason he can’t understand the need for a secret identity, and it nearly causes aunt May to have a heart attack. It’s a good thing Gwen is back and there to calm her down.
Gwen has agreed to stay at the Parker house, but has decided it’s time to end her burning love affair with Peter Parker. It’s for the best, I’m sure. Spider-Man is gonna die (so says Marvel), so best to get him back with Mary Jane before it all comes crashing down. While Ultimate Spider-Man has had a fair amount of teen-age drama over the last decade, it’s been handled well until now. Ever since Ultimatum, it’s almost as if Bendis has been glued to the CW to soak up as much character development as he can, and it certainly reads like a Thursday night teen drama.
The most interesting part of the entire issue doesn’t even feature Peter Parker at all. Black Cat discovers Mysterio is still alive, and has possession of the Zodiac Key – the talisman that kept the Kingpin in power all this time. She makes off with it, and if the tale told is true, there should be an interesting power-struggle just around the corner.
Hopefully before the Death of Spider-Man!
Bendis does his best to keep the word balloons as small as possible, but this is Bendis, so don’t be surprised if half or more of the panels are filled with white interconnected circles. And while I don’t mind the teen drama that plays out, this issue has a lot of wordy words that could have been trimmed.
A TALE OF TWO ARTISTS
There are two artists in this issue, and it is very apparent who is doing what sections of the story; there’s the Peter Parker manga, where everyone has the really sharp noses, and then there is the good stuff. I’ve made very attempt to adjust and take a liking to to David Lafuente’s art, but I just can’t. Don’t get me wrong, he’s not a terrible artist, he’s just not the artist for me, and I don’t think he’s the right artist for Ultimate Spider-Man.
Unlike other companies that mix and match artists from page to page, Marvel did this right by having Pichelli handle scenes featuring Black Cat. This did give the issue a very split feel regarding the story, but at least I didn’t get a page of Lafuente’s Peter Parker side by side with a Pichelli one.
BOTTOM LINE: SKIP IT
With THE DEATH OF SPIDER-MAN drawing ever near, I was hoping we’d see faster storytelling with lots and lots of action. Instead, there’s a lot of relationship babble, and save for a quick one panel appearance, we only get to see Peter as Spider-Man on the very final page of the issue. Bendis is a very good writer, and if he’s trying to really target those that favor relationship drama, then he nailed it with this issue. And if younger readers really are gung-ho for manga art, then this issue nailed it as well. Unfortunately, most of the Ultimate Spider-Man reading audience are no longer the teenagers who started reading this series oh so long ago. Unless you are a completist, you can probably skip this issue and wait for the next exciting installment.