As a reader and reviewer, I haven’t always been kind to Marvel’s Earth-1610 Wall-Crawler and the secondary universe that he pioneered.  But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t things the Ultimate universe got exactly right…  Your Major Spoilers (Retro) Review of Ultimate Spider-Man #91 awaits!

Ultimate Spider-Man #91 CoverULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #91

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Penciler: Mark Bagley
Inker: John Dell
Colorist: Justin Ponsor
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Editor: Ralph Macchio
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $2.50
Current Near-Mint Pricing: $3.00

Previously in Ultimate Spider-Man: The bite of a genetically-altered spider granted high school student Peter Parker incredible, arachnid-like powers!  When a burglar killed his beloved Uncle Ben, a grief-stricken Peter vowed to use his amazing abilities to protect his fellow man.  He learned the invaluable lesson that with great power must come great responsibility…

Having recently broken up with his girlfriend, Mary Jane, Peter started dating Kitty Pryde, member of the super-powered mutant team, the X-Men.  But Peter’s about to discover that the love-life of super heroes is a complicated thing…”

This is a great opening shot, one that really represents the best of Ultimate Spider-Man, combining Bagley’s lovable, kinda scrawny Spider-Man combined with the sardonic wit that Bendis does a well as any other writer in the industry.  Spidey’s embarrassment in justifiable, too, as it turns out that his opponent is The (ultimate) Ringer, who wants to make it clear that he is “straight up, from Waldorf, Maryland!”

Ringer’s anti-mutant racist rherotic earns him a really solid right hook from Spider-Man’s new as-yet-unnamed partner, who proceeds to lay down the metaphorical smack that her encircled web-friend cannot.  It’s actually pretty impressive stuff, including some solid trash talk about hula hoops being passe and his technological suit being no match for her tech-disrupting phasing powers.  When things don’t go as planned, though, she has the sense to go for the team-up…

Phasing Spidey out of his bonds (and his shirt, a moment when she teases is a “bonus for me”), our mysterious heroine takes the time to flirt with the Wall-Crawler as the villain makes a run for it.  A quick wall of webbing puts the lie to that would-be escape, allowing her the time to figure out what went wrong the first time…

The explosion is sudden and intense enough that Spider-Man cries out in concern, “KITTY!”

Which, now that I think of it, is pretty bad secret identity work from a man in a full-face mask…   Regardless, The Ringer is laid low and unmasked, and weirdest of all?  He’s not from Maryland, he’s from Ohio!  As they make their exit, Kitty takes the time to mock Spidey for his lame-o villains, mocking The Shocker by name, causing Spider-Man to point out that his rogue’s gallery is better than The Ultimates’.  This leads Kitty to the funniest line of the entire issue, pointing out that all the Ultimates do is fight one another, which is both true and some really sharp satire.  Kitty explains that her new look is so that they can be super-team partners as well as dating, which prompts Spider-Man to say, “So, I am to believe we’re going to date in real life?”

That’s when things get a little awkward…

What follows is the patented, perfectly written Bendis back-and-forth conversation, where Kitty wants them to be a real thing, while Peter hedges about Aunt May and openly dating an X-Man.  Kitty refuses to hide her mutant status and points out that her identity is in no way secret (“It’s online,” she reminds him), and Peter worries about whether or not Aunt May could handle it.  Their talk is interrupted by the automated arrival of the X-plane to pick her up, leading to an adorable moment between our teenage heroes…

It’s so sweet, and so perfectly constructed, reminding me of how this particular couple is one of the best parts of the entire Marvel Universe, regardless of which Earth.  It also shows off the simple, wonderful linework of Mark Bagley, a truly underrated talent in modern comics.  And, of course, since it’s a Bendis book and Bendis does complex, nuanced characters who feel almost human, Kitty breaks off the kiss (by phasing through him) and sets off for home awash in self-doubt and worry…

Terrified that she scared off her new beau, Kitty returns home to the X-Mansion to find it empty, seeking out some sort of companionship.  She finds Wolverine, which is a problem on many levels…

…not the least of which is the ol’ stabbity thing.  Even stranger, the “electrical” attack actually hurts, leaving her confused and injured when she encounters Storm, who likewise tries to kill her.  Racing through the walls of her home, Kitty accidentally takes out the communications array with her powers, but is smart enough to come up with a last-ditch plan: She sets the robot X-plane off, sending it back to the last destination, where Spider-Man (after getting freaked out that Aunt May clearly has a hot date) sees it hovering.  Entering the plane, Spidey is surprised when it suddenly takes off…

Spider-Man is rushed off to the Mansion, where he sadly misses all the cues that should tell him that something is wrong.  (We readers know, as we saw his girlfriend get zapped seconds after sending the plane to fetch him, but c’maaaahn, man!  Spider-sense!)

As he loses consciousness, Spider-Man barely registers Kitty’s features twisting as a holographic disguise is turned off, to reveal…

…DEADPOOL!

It’s ultimate Deadpool, y’all!  And in 2006, that meant even more than it does now!  This isn’t the quirky, fourth-wall-breaking merc with a mouth we know and love, though, and he’s commanding a squadron of cyborg Marauders, which doesn’t bode well for the future…  but none of that is why we’re here.  We are here for the awkward teen romance and Ultimate Spider-Man #91 is a perfect slice thereof, featuring two wonderfully written, nuanced portrayals of young heroes, trying to balance their tight-costumed attraction with matters practical, with incredible dialogue, strong art by the always-amazing Mark Bagley and the most relatable, human Spider-Man since Gwen Stacy died, earning a well deserved 4.5 out of 5 stars overall.  The episodic nature of Ultimate Spider-Man is a lot of fun and very retro in its presentation, and with the exception of what feels like a rush to get to the cliffhanger, it is a darn-near perfect issue of comics…

As a reader and reviewer, I haven't always been kind to Marvel's Earth-1610 Wall-Crawler and the secondary universe that he pioneered.  But that doesn't mean that there aren't things the Ultimate universe got exactly right...  Your Major Spoilers (Retro) Review of Ultimate Spider-Man #91 awaits! ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #91 Writer: Brian Michael Bendis Penciler: Mark Bagley Inker: John Dell Colorist: Justin Ponsor Letterer: VC's Cory Petit Editor: Ralph Macchio Publisher: Marvel Comics Cover Price: $2.50 Current Near-Mint Pricing: $3.00 Previously in Ultimate Spider-Man: The bite of a genetically-altered spider granted high school student Peter Parker incredible, arachnid-like powers!  When a burglar…
Young love, realistic teens, mockery of Spidey's lamer rogues AND a robot plane! This one has everything...

ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #91

Writing
Art
Coloring

Young love, realistic teens, mockery of Spidey's lamer rogues AND a robot plane! This one has everything...

User Rating: 3.9 ( 1 votes)

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4 Comments

  1. Marshall Nisbet
    April 9, 2018 at 12:36 pm — Reply

    This was a fantastic review, Ultimate Spider-Man was the book that got me back into comics. For the longest time the Ultimate titles were the only books I was reading. This is definitely a standout issue, and the relationship between Peter and Kitty is one of my all time favorite couplings. Would have loved to see them last much longer. I agree the Ultimate books at times had their issues, but I found them overall really enjoyable, Spider-Man was my favorite. Anyway, I loved the review a just had to say something, with the Ultimate universe gone it seems like it never gets talked about.

    • April 9, 2018 at 10:23 pm — Reply

      The ultimate universe is back…

      • Marshall Nisbet
        April 10, 2018 at 11:16 pm — Reply

        Is it really? How did I miss that? Did the universe just come back into existence cause I can’t find any new Ultimate titles.

      • Marshall Nisbet
        April 11, 2018 at 4:45 am — Reply

        Alright, well I was able to answer my own question pretty easily. ( Ultimate universe is back, it’s been a part of some events, but no new Ultimate comic titles ) But is clear that the major take away here is that I’m not reading as many Marvel comics as I should be. Thank you for the heads up, it’s time to get some new books.

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The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.