Pick of the Week

Pick of the Week – 11.24.2010 – Ultimate Spider-Man #150

What did the
iFanboy
community think?

545
Pulls
Avg Rating: 4.6
iFanboy Community Pick of the Week Percentage: 14.3%
 
Users who pulled this comic:
Writer: BRIAN MICHAEL BENDIS
Artist: DAVID LAFUENTE, SKOTTIE YOUNG, SARA PICHELLI, JOELLE JONES & JAMIE MCKELVIE
Colorist: JUSTIN PONSOR, SUNNY GHO & SAKTI YUWONO, MATTHEW WILSON & JEAN-FRANCOIS BEAULIEU
Letterer: CORY PETIT
Cover: DAVID LAFUENTE

Size: 104 pages
Price: 5.99

Over the past 10 years of collecting comics, I've been lucky enough to see some quality comics and comic creators make amazing comics.  Within those 10 years, in my opinion, there have been several honest to goodness phenomenons.  We're talking once in a lifetime, never going to happen again type of phenomenons that defy the odds, that you would never predict would be as successful as it is.  At the top of that very limited list, I would firmly place Ultimate Spider-Man
 

When they announced the Ultimate line of comics, as to be predicted, we all hated it.  "Re-imagining" of these established characters outside of canon/continuity never worked, and while conspiracy theorists felt that this was paving the way towards an entire universe refresh (which still makes me laugh to this day), others simply objected to it existing at all, especially given that it was being written by, at the time, a relative unknown indie writer, Brian Michael Bendis.  Now while the entire Ultimate line hasn't proven to be as successful as Ultimate Spider-Man, something happened with this title.  Lightning in a bottle, so to speak.  A legendary run of 7 years and 111 issues with the same creative team of Bendis and pencilier Mark Bagley was a milestone in comics history.  But then something funny happened, the phenomenon proved to have a second act.  After a great, but brief run with art by Stuart Immonen and an awkward relaunch of the line, Ultimate Spider-Man (not Ultimate Comics Spider-Man Ultimate Style! or any title nonsense like that) persevered and not only continued, but with the addition of David LaFuente on art, it seemingly got re-energized.  Which brings us to today.  After restoring the original title and numbering, Ultimate Spider-Man celebrates 10 years of publishing an 150 issues with Ultimate Spider-Man #150.
 

Leave it to Brian Michael Bendis to take the opportunity of this milestone issue to turn around something really special that not only celebrates the past of Ultimate Spider-Man, but almost gives us a glimpse of what the next 150 issues could be, all while moving the story forward.  Story-wise, Spider-Man has become a public problem for Carol Danvers, who is now the head of SHIELD.  She's unsure what to do, so she turns to The Ultimates: Captain America, Iron Man and Thor, seeking their opinions and advice on what to do with the teenager running around in pajamas, ultimately trying to do good but causing millions of dollars of public damage in the process.  We get a fairly standard point of view through flashbacks story, as each hero recounts a run in with Spider-Man, which leads to Danvers to come to the conclusion that it's time to start providing guidance to Spider-Man by forcing him to be trained as a super hero.  In the afternoons, after school, of course, with Aunt May's approval.  Something that could only happen in the Ultimate universe and makes total sense in the grand view of the entire run of this title and Peter's adventures as Spider-Man.


Much like the stories told after the ridiculousness of the Ultimatum tidal wave disaster, Bendis takes this opportunity to examine and celebrate what makes Peter Parker so special, while at the same time inching the story forward, preparing us nearly for a new status quo with the next issue.  I don't think there has been a single writer who has been so locked into a single character and his world for longer or more consistently than Bendis and Ultimate Spider-Man.  It really is a phenomenon.  I don't know if it's being freed from continuity or just happenstance, but for 10 years Bendis has consistently told great Spider-Man stories.  I realize as I rave about this book, that I've actually read Ultimate Spider-Man for longer than I've read Amazing Spider-Man (which I've picked up and dropped over the years).  I'm not by any means a "Spider-Man" guy, but somehow, Bendis has captured something here with this title.


Much was made of his pairing with Bagley on that epic 111 issue run, but as I mentioned above, the second act for Ultimate Spider-Man is purely linked to the art.  I can't imagine this book being any better with anyone other than David LaFuente.  I've been screaming about how good LaFuente is for this book for a couple of years now and I'll gladly do it again here.  He has a youthful energy to his art style that fits this book to a tee.  He is able to depict the emotional ups and downs of the soap opera of Peter's life just as well as he's been able to depict the action, fights, explosions and all the fun super hero stuff.  The recent addition of Sara Pichelli not only compliments LaFuente so well that the trade off between artists is not jarring and is quite enjoyable, especially when the book is guaranteed to ship on time, but also gives us the treat of Pichelli's wonderful and nuanced characters and art style.
 

There was a time where I couldn't have imagined anyone but Bagley on Ultimate Spider-Man, until we got an annual with art by LaFuente and I caught a glimpse of what could be with another artist and I've got that same feeling here with Ultimate Spider-Man #150.  To make this issue special, we get not only LaFuente and Pichelli in the same issue, but for the flash back scenes, we're treated to three artists I would never have thought would ever grace the pages of this book.  I laugh because Bendis referred to these guests artists in interviews as "indie artists" that he'd love to work with, meanwhile they're 3 of my favorite artists for some time now:  Skottie Young (oh, I'm sorry I mean, multiple Eisner Award winning Skottie Young), who has gained fame from his amazing work on the Wizard of Oz books from Marvel;  Jamie McKelvie, best known for Phonogram and my personal pick for one of the biggest artists of the next decade; and Joelle Jones, whose work over at Oni Press on books like You Have Killed Me and 12 Reasons Why I Love Her have left me speechless.  Each individual artist couldn't be more different than the other, and yet through their own styles were able to capture that energy and certain something that makes Ultimate Spider-Man unique.  From seeing Jones first colored work (for me at least), to seeing that awesome, unique Skottie look complete with dot pitch and scratchyness, to the subtle, elegant emotions and acting of McKevie's characters.  I found myself getting upset when each artist's section ended.  I wanted more and again, Bendis has allowed me to see a possible future.  Perhaps , if we're lucky, in a few years one of these three artists will step into the shoes of Bagley, LaFuente and Pichelli for the next act of the Ultimate Spider-Man saga.  Who knows. But for right now, I got a taste and I liked what I saw.  I could go on and on raving about each artist, like Joelle Jones surprising the hell out of me with her Iron Man armor, or Jamie McKelvie (and the amazing Matt Wilson on colors) delivering some amazing explosions and action, like Captain America jumping and rolling into punching an AIM thug, or Skottie Young's Peter and Gwen at the museum and Peter trying to change into his costume in a closet.  Just amazing.  Each artist showed why they're so good and if you're not familiar with their work, I strongly urge you to go check them out.
 

There you have it.  I tip my cap to Brian Michael Bendis for 10 years of consistently good comics that have left me satisfied and wanting more month in and month out.  I welcome the second act of the book (which has been awesome so far) with David LaFuente and Sara Pichelli , which make the book a joy to pour over issue in and issue out.  And finally, a big high five to Joelle Jones, Jamie McKelvie and Skottie Young for showing off how great they are and leaving me wanting more.
 

Ultimate Spider-Man is a special comic book and Ultimate Spider-Man #150 is just a taste of what makes this title a true phenomenon in the comic book industry.  When I get asked what super hero comic books are good and should be read by people, I always include Ultimate Spider-Man in my list and I'm happy to see that I will continue to for hopefully a long time to come. Here's to another 10 years, another 150 issues and continuing to defy the odds with the book that never should have worked.

 

Ron Richards
Excuse me while I go admire my page of orignal art now…
ron@ifanboy.com

Comments

  1. Oh man, the Seattle comics are stuck in Portland because of the snow! I’ll make sure and pick this up Friday, if the comics are here yet.

  2. This was an absolute joy to read. It left wanting me for more, and *gasp* Craig Thompson from Blankets as one of the guests, how great was that?

     

     

     

  3. Okay, Richards, I clicked the "PULL" button. You better know what you’re talking about! 😉

  4. This was just so … awesome

  5. lol i knew this was coming when i saw that ron had the pick of the week, it was a tight race for me with detective and USM and i figured he didn’t even pull detective

  6. I actually did pull and read Detective. It was quite good. Listen to the podcast this Sunday to hear my thoughts

  7. ^^yes! next up for ron richards: superman. I fear the world may end if that happened

  8. Not to nit pick on continuity here, but isn’t ultimate daredevil dead? I thought the main story was great as per usual, but there were some serious flaws with the backups. I thought that they would be much better suited for the 616 spider-man. I mean the fantastic four part, come on! Bobby Drake lives with Peter!

  9. This issue was fantastic.

  10. @ato220

     The second half of this comic is actually an old reprint of the first Ultimate Spidey Super Special #1.  I think it’s kinda weird they tossed it in here, but I won’t complain.

  11. That explains it. I retract my previous comment

  12. @atto The backup story takes place in the past. (Bagley, pre-ultimatum, era). Notice the crappy haircut and the fact that he is with mj and she’s the only one who knows who he is.

  13. ^^ lol i was ready to forget about that haircut and move on but then that special brought me right back in

  14. A 6 dollar comic WTH!!!

    I will wait for the HC instead,

    Matthew

     

     

  15. I took the day off and picked up my comics on a Wednesday–the first time in I don’t know how long–and this was the first thing I picked up. 10-12 pages in, I was looking around the counter a Fred 62 practically begging someone to ask me what I was reading. I had to talk about it with someone. This was a total pleasure, and though I know I read that last bit somewhere (#100?)–I didn’t mind at all, I was stoked to read that story about the hero Peter always wanted to talk about, but never had the chance to.  

    What a great framing device too–ugh, so much to talk about, but suffice to say, Ron–good pick, I agree with you entirely…this is once in a lifetime here, this is real genius, and it’s so fantastic to be witness to it. Great article, Ron!

     Now to the rest of my books.. 

  16. Hmmm, guess I’ll go an pick this one up 🙂

  17. Wow, its amazing how this title brought me into comics & it’s still going strong. If McKelvie ever gets to be a regular artist for this title I would be in complete ecstasy!

  18. I miss Fred62.

  19. This was excellent. I haven’t read Ultimate Spidey in a while, and jumped back on for Young and McKelvie, and I’m glad I did!

    However, I was a bit peeved to find the second half was a reprint. Just when I was getting into it and enjoying the issue for more than the art…BAM. Here’s a thing you read a few years ago.

    Oh well, it was still a great issue. 

  20.  Nice review Ron… After a Thanksgiving meal that couldn’t be beat, your review sent me back to my LCS. When I got there, it was CLOSED! Never heard of a Comic Book store being closed on Thanksgiving before. 

  21. It always makes me want to cry when something good actually happens to Peter Parker. It’s like those few rare times on Married With Children when Al Bundy wins. The agony and the ecstasy. Great issue.

  22. As I listen to the Foals track ‘What Remains’ I can’t help but wonder what next for this astounding title…..

    I can honestly say that although I rave more about my favourite titles (Scalped & F4), I don’t think there is a book I look more forward to each month than USM. It’s as much a surprise to me as it is you….especially given that I barely read this book prior to it’s "re-launch". 

    It just feels as if this title seems to grab the best parts of early teen angst, regret, self-doubt, and cliched dramatized shows like Saved By The Bell, The OC, and Glee – and manages to wrap it into one hell of an on-going.

    This book might not be ‘The Wire’, but, what’evs – – every now and then I need to know what’s going on with Zack, Slater, & the gang – just to remember what it’s like to live and deal with normal life – – – with a little superhero thrown in………….oh, and drama, drama, drama.

    ……I mean, who doesn’t want to swing from building to building? C’mon!!! 

  23. I think a few people have said it, but I will repeat it because I agree. The main story was great, not been a fan of this artist before but every artist in here was great. Such a high price comic though I got worried when I reached "to be continued" less than half way through and then found a reprint of something I already own! I ventured back to Ultimate Spider-man and was burned…bad Marvel, BAD!

  24. ah goddamn, feel totally screwed by this issue. As Zeppo said, the last two thirds of the comic is a reprint for a few years back. Seriously not happy about this, in essence I’ve payed 6 bucks for a single issue and something I already own. Seriously marvel, not fucking cool at all.

  25. The older (616-Universe) Reed Richards kept bugging me. 

    The saving grace for me is that the parts with Reed Richards was not part of the main story. 

  26. Seattle is still comic-less…well, new comic-less (there are plenty of back issues). Shipments are coming Monday morning, so Monday I’ll finally get to experience the joy on this issue.

    And yes, we’re Comic-less in Seattle. (Hmmm…really not that funny, huh.)

  27. Spiderman is using Yiddish words like "Shmegegies"????  LOL

  28. @gruvenreuven: He’s been doing that for ten years under Bendis.

  29. I dont think I have ever wanted to read the next issue of a series as much as I want to read the next issue of this book. This issue was amazing in every way.

  30. This was basically just another excellent issue of Ultimate Spidey with "special" art. My main problem with it is that I already own the Ultimate Spider-man Special twice so it was totally wasted on me. This would, of course, be a lot less problematic if it weren’t for the fact that it takes up something like 2/3 of this issue and is clearly a large part of the insane $6 price tag.

    Anyway, I’m still in the middle of this week’s comics but I doubt it whether anything will be able to beat the sheer bloody brilliance of Detective Comics. The way it sets a very different Batman in a very old-school Batman story works incredibly well and the art was a perfect match for the story as well. Also, for a first time Batman writer, it’s astonishing how well Snyder has got the voices down of everyone from Dick Grayson to Harvey Bollock. 

  31. Oh and @PostMan87: It probably helps to think less of Glee and the OC and more about Freaks and Geeks when it comes to the teenage angst of Ultimate Spidey. Benis has admitted to being a big fan of the show so I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to imagine he drew at least somewhat from it.

  32. I really liked this issue, after I finished it 8 years later. The multiple art styles were jarring to me. Each style in and of itself was nice, though some felt inappropriate to Spiderman. Also, while the story takes place in the Ultimate continuity they seem to cross over mainstream characters. Particularly the FF… the Ultimate versions are about the same age as Peter unless something happened to change that… which is possible since I haven’t read them in a few years.

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