Thursday, April 14, 2011

Ultimate Spider-Man #157

He's still not dead yet - at least at the beginning of this issue.

But judging by the subtitle of this comic - "The Death of Spider-Man" - it doesn't look good for Ultimate Spider-Man.

And certainly the situation is dire. The issue begins with Spidey discovering that the New Ultimates and the Ultimate Avengers are in an all-out war in the city (that fight you can catch in the mini-series running parallel to this comic).

At the same time, all of Spider-Man's greatest foes have escaped from prison, including the Green Goblin, Dr. Octopus, Sandman, Kraven, Electro and Vulture.

And if you thought the Marvel Earth's version of Norman Osborn was crazy, the Ultimate version makes him look mild-mannered in comparison.

This issue includes a truly stunning event that has somehow gone without spoiling - and I won't cross that line, either - but it's a credit to writer Brian Bendis that he managed such a surprise on his readers.

I have to admit I haven't been following the other mini-series, but aside from the last couple of pages, I don't feel as though I missed much - and even that sequence is self-explanatory.

Nothing against the artists who have worked on this comic since he left - they're all talented, frankly - but this book really feels right with Mark Bagley back on the art. Over his 110-plus issues, he really put his creative stamp on it, and it gives the book a feeling of having come full circle.

He's lost nothing in his absence - his work crackles with energy, emotion and enthusiasm, and runs the gamut from tender scenes to brutal super-powered battles.

This story has been building slowly, but this issue - and the next - will tell the tale about whether or not this "Death" is all it's been built up to be. Here's hoping!

Grade: A


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