Thursday, January 16, 2003

Ultimate Spider-Man #35: A Review

Let’s get this out of the way first. I don’t like Venom.

I have yet to see any good stories done with the character since Amazing Spider-Man 300. I think that half the problems with the Spider-Man books throughout the 90’s can be pinned on the symbiotes and everyone who ever tried to sell the idea that a psychotic Spider-Man who killed bad guys was cool needs to be beaten about the head with a herring.

I should be worried. I really should. My amazing Spidey-Fan Senses started tingling the minute I heard them say they were going to bring Venom into the Ultimate Universe. Because I LOATHE Venom.

And yet, I liked this issue. And I still love this book.

In case you missed it the first few times I whined about it in this article, yes, this issue does deal with slowly bringing Venom into the Ultimate Spider-Man universe. This may be a bit of a spoiler, but Marvel isn’t bothering to keep it a secret.

In fact, they’ve gone so far as to put Venom on all the covers of the book since the start of the current story arc, so I don’t see any way I can hide that little secret from you all.

Besides, this is a magic show story. We all know that the magician is going to escape from the trap unscathed. We just watch the show to see how he’s going to do it. In the same sense, we know that Venom is going to be created through this story. We’re just reading to find out how. And that much, I can protect you from, as far as spoilers go.

Thankfully, Bendis’ writing is as sharp as ever and there is a lot more reason to read this issue besides watching the creation of a new Spidey villain.

The issue centers around Peter discovering the benefits of his new costume as he takes a spin around New York, doing whatever a spider can. This includes a humorously brief encounter with an old villain, who Peter had no troubles with even without a suit that makes it’s own webbing and a rescue mention involving a pop star who IS DEFINITELY NOT BASED ON ANYONE FAMOUS and please do not sue us, thank you very much!

Mark Bagley’s art matches the writing and is, as always, excellent. There is a sense of motion to all Bagley’s work, so even the most static of situation always seems to have a certain life and energy to it.

My one complaint about the story (aside from my personal dread about the end that we know is coming) is that there almost seems to be TOO much rush to reach the end. The story starts out with Peter reveling in his new powers, and by the end he has more than an inkling that there’s something not quite right about his new suit. It just seems like there’s so much of a push to get to from point A to point B, that the journey isn’t being savored.

If you aren’t reading this book by now, there’s probably not much I can say to convince you otherwise. But you’ll be hard pressed to find better stories about a teenager trying to balance superheroics, a job, school and a love life anywhere else in the industry today.

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