Sunday, August 15, 2010

Ultimate Spider-Man #13

I've been a big fan of the Ultimate Spider-Man series since the beginning because it's been a good balance of strong writing, great art, terrific action and lots of humor.

This issue, not so much.

That's because the ongoing storyline is moving into some dark places that just doesn't fit this title. Leading up to this issue, the Chameleon has taken Peter Parker's place and has uncovered Spidey's big secret. (I should mention that the Chameleon is very different in the Ultimate Universe - here he's apparently a con man who's always looking for a way to steal money and he acts completely without conscience).

In this issue, the bad guy uses Spider-Man's costume and webspinners to start doing some very bad things - and of course Peter is getting the blame.

It's a dark, grim storyline that seems to work against the strengths of the artist, David Lafuente, who's much better at lighthearted stories. The art is good here, it's just not a good match.

The issue is disappointing because it leans on one of my biggest problems with Ultimate Spidey - namely, that everyone knows his secret identity! Mary Jane knows, Aunt May knows, the Human Torch, Iceman, Gwen Stacy, Nick Fury, most of SHIELD, Norman Osborn, Peter's classmates all know - it would be shorter to list the ones who don't know his secret ID.

It just makes it too easy for the fight to always walk in his front door, and it takes him further away from being a regular kid in the "real world" side of his life.

It's rare when an issue of this comic doesn't rate a grade in the "A" range - but everyone slips up now and then, and for writer Brian Bendis, this is such a time.

Grade: C+

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