Thursday, November 25, 2010

Ultimate Spider-Man #150

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

To celebrate the holiday (and yes, I know it's only a holiday in the U.S. - but we're thankful for those of you reading in other countries) let's take a look at the oversized Ultimate Spider-Man #150.

Of course, that number is a good trick since the last issue was what, #15? (Oh Marvel, with your '40s-era random numbering system. And no, I'm not sure how 133 issues plus 15 plus one equals 150.)

Actually, it's impressive that this series has already reached that number, since it has only been around for 10 years. That would add up to 120 issues for most series (if they were lucky) - but it's a tribute to the speed of writer Brian Bendis and penciller Mark Bagley that they're so far ahead of the game.

To celebrate the milestone, this 104-page issue features two completely different adventures. The first story features Iron Man, Captain America and Thor as they flash back to their previous meetings with Spider-Man.

The stories are a great mix of humor, adventure and action as The Ultimates consider how to solve a problem like Spidey.

The second story is a reprint of a past Super Special and it reads like a mash-up of the original Ultimate Marvel Team-Up comic, as Spider-Man suffers a crisis of confidence and seeks advice from as assortment of heroes.

Frankly, the writing is a bit mushy on this issue - it's not up to Bendis' usual work. There are some surprises and quite a few laughs, but the whole thing is just too disjointed - and that's because of the army of artists required to bring this beast together.

There are no less than 11 artists on the first story and 27 (that's right, 27) on the second story. That makes for a fun version of "spot the artist," and there's some great work on display by artists like Alex Maleev, Frank Cho, John Romita, Sr., Michael Avon Oeming, Mark Bagley, Bill Sienkiewicz, P. Craig Russell and Dave Gibbons.

But the shifts in art give the whole thing a "crazy quilt" feel, and the story tends to get lost in the process.

Still, the book is a lot of fun, and the opening story sets up an interesting new direction for the series.

I'm really grateful this comic is still around, since I gave up on the original Spider-Man comic a while back.

As I've said before, this is the best Spider-Man comic around - and has been for 10 years now.

(What's that? They're planning to kill (Ultimate) Spider-Man next year? Son of a...)

Grade: B+


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