Monday, August 06, 2007

Review - Ultimate Spiderman #111

Ultimate Spiderman #111
By Brian Michael Bendis, Mark Bagley, and Stuart Immonen
Colors by Justin Ponsor, Letters by VC’s Cory Petit
Published by Marvel Comics, July 2007. $2.99

After two game-changing action-packed arcs - The Clone Saga and Ultimate Knights - Brian Michael Bendis has grabbed our shaken, frail bodies and forced us to sit with him and have a quiet chat. Between fighting various mutated freaks, dealing with the Ultimate love triangle, going to school and working at the Daily Bugle, Peter has had no time to deal with his disapproving Aunt May who once figured so closely to his daily life.

Aunt May’s guilt over Uncle Ben’s death became known in an issue similar to #111, "The Talk", the appropriately titled “Guilt,” issue #45. In “Guilt,” Aunt May talks to her psychiatrist about her inability to cope with a world where vigilantes run around in their pajamas doing whatever they want. She is relieved at the assurance her nephew is not involved in this fast growing trend. Issue #111 brings her growing concerns full circle. May has come to know the ugly truth: Peter Parker IS Spiderman. Yes, it’s time for that talk. I enjoyed reading Peter’s rationalization of the Spidey-sense, and Aunt May knowing the full story of the day the infamous radioactive spider bit Peter. In an odd, subtle moment, he tosses off the once traumatizing incident when Green Goblin threw Mary Jane off Brooklyn Bridge as mundane.

The one disappointment with this issue is a flashback to a battle with Ultimate Spot at the ROXXON labs just before picking up Aunt May at the hospital. The artist Stuart Immonen, to whom regular artist Mark Bagley is passing the Ultimate torch with #111, illustrates this sequence. The reader has the unfortunate position of only seeing their dialogue along the margin. I am disappointed this dull “staged reading” effect was implemented. While I love the witty exchange with May’s comical inability to understand what Peter is saying, and that the trashed lab hurt Peter’s young scientist heart, I would have expected a more ambitious execution of the conversation. Interspersing the intimate kitchen chat with the fight would have proved more engaging, especially if Bagley’s softer style had been integrated with Immonen's contrasting angular take on action sequences. This section felt like there was a last minute decision to include Immonen on the story; as a result, it felt lazy.

In the end, this issue delivered great moments for Aunt May. Her questions are just the right ones, as she feels increasingly nauseous the more she unweaves the delicate web of deceit. May discovers that Ben's familiar wise words of; "with great power..." is the great motivator for Spiderman. In her smile, I can see her relief. She can have a conversation with a superhero, thus providing the perfect bookend to “Guilt.”

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