Friday, February 25, 2011

Ultimate Spider-Man #154

I'm generally not a fan of the big cosmic MacGuffins that drive so many comic book stories - the Cosmic Cube, the Infinity Gauntlet, the Ultimate Nullifier - they make for an overpowering, impossible-to-beat enemy - but that just means the hero has to find a way to trick the bad guy, as opposed to actually outsmarting or outmaneuvering him. (There is a difference.)

This issue of Ultimate Spider-Man includes an old weapon, the Zodiac Key, that has been MacGuffined - but writer Brian Bendis re-imagines it as not only a force capable of terrible destruction, but one that the holder can't always control. It's a great twist on a well-worn concept.

The Key has also become something of a hot potato - the Kingpin had it (before he was killed), then Mysterio had it, then the Black Cat stole it, and with this issue we throw Spider-Man (still alive!) and Iron Man into the mix.

The result is a fast-paced scramble that's a heck of a lot of fun.

The art is still being handled, tag-team fashion, by Sara Pichelli, David Lafuente and Elena Casagrande - but the credits don't specify who did what (though it appears that Sara handled the superhero stuff while David did the civilian part). Whoever did what, it's great stuff, and I especially enjoyed the double page 16-panel action sequence.

Also, great cover by Steve McNiven and Dean White!

We're still waiting for (Ultimate) Spidey to die (all the cool heroes are doing it). Hopefully he'll meet his fate at the hands of a more down-to-Earth agent, instead of some cosmic doodad.

Grade: A-


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