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‘Ultimate Spider-Man #1-6’ (review)

Written by Jonathan Hickman 
Art by Marco Checcetto and David Messina
Published by Marvel Comics

 

I was a big fan of the original Ultimate Spider-Man run by Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley for many years.

I felt the book eventually fell off the rails the longer it went on but there was enough there to really enjoy for quite a long time. It was also the real last time I enjoyed a Spider-Man book (the recent Nick Spencer stuff was okay, but didn’t end in a satisfying way).

When I heard that they were rebooting the series, I was rather unexcited. Why do we need this?

Then I heard Jonathan Hickman was writing it and I instantly got excited.

Hickman has been responsible for some of the most interesting comics books in the last few years.

Some of his books were more well received than others.  (I loved his X-Men books) but he’s always doing something new, always something interesting. He takes what is there, and he mixes it up in a smart and interesting way each time. So, I immediately perked up and got VERY interested in this series. Then I found out the incredible Marco Checcetto was drawing this, hot off his run on the recent and amazing Daredevil series, and I just couldn’t wait to read it.

I wasn’t disappointed at all.

From the very first few pages, I was hooked. Peter Parker is an adult married to Mary Jane and they have two young kids. Peter was not bit by the radioactive spider in this version and he feels that there is something indeed missing in his life. He works at the Daily Bugle as a photographer with his Uncle Ben and J. Jonah Jameson, who quickly quit once the Kingpin takes over. The world is skewed but delightfully so.

Jameson and Ben Parker eventually strike out and form their own newspaper of sorts.

Peter though finds out from a gift from Tony Stark that a force stopped him and others from becoming heroes. There was a big incident a few months back that killed a lot of people too, and this world now needs those heroes to come forth. Peter then has to make a choice: to live the life he has now or to take the chance and become the hero he was meant to be?

He chooses the latter and it leads to some pretty awesome places.

Peter immediately fails a few times in the first few beats of his new superhero life. The funniest parts happen when he encounters the Shocker in the second chapter. The Shocker gives him every excuse he can muster to distract Peter and the results are really laughable out loud funny. Eventually, Peter’s young daughter, May, finds out her dad is Spider-Man. This leads to some really great interactions between the two as May helps Peter find the visual representation that would be most effective.

There is also a version of the Green Goblin floating around, causing trouble for the Kingpin. Who are they? What is there purpose? That is all explained in some of the later chapters, but it is very compelling. Peter and the new Green Goblin form a friendly relationship and not in the way you would expect. They even go out for a dinner with their respective spouses (which is another surprise entirely). It is all well done in a way that we haven’t seen before.

All of the various plot lines and characters are handled with perfection.

The feeling that this book gives reminds me of the way I last felt when Ultimate Spider-Man was at its peak. Except this book might be better. The thing I like most about it is that it does mature the characters sure, but it is never depressing. Quite the opposite actually, it is full of joy, laughs, and even moments that would make any comic fan cheer. It is truly just wonderful.

For his part, Jonathan Hickman writes a terrific story that works on every level. He pushes himself into new territory here, and he’s never been so loose as he is here. It’s great. The artwork by Marco Checcetto and David Messina is really top notch stuff, just wonderful stuff.

This book is one of Marvel’s best releases in years and it is certainly the best Spider-Man book in ages. I hope it has a good long run and the quality remains this high.

Thank you to the entire creative team for making something worth reading.

RATING: A+

 

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