adventurous emotional funny hopeful lighthearted relaxing medium-paced
- Plot- or character-driven? Character
- Strong character development? Yes
- Loveable characters? Yes
- Diverse cast of characters? It's complicated
- Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes
HANDS DOWN THE MOST INFLUENTIAL SPIDER-MAN SERIES AND ARGUABLY THE MOST CONSISTENT RUN FOR THE CHARACTER!!
This is now my 2nd time reading this omnibus and with the 2nd omnibus *finally* coming out, I had the perfect reason to read it again. ‘Ultimate Spider-Man’ is the brainchild of Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley, where in the fresh year of 2000, they were assigned to do a limited 6 issue series on a modern retelling of Spider-Man’s origin. As most people know, it grew to be a very popular series and continued as an ongoing. This first volume contains the first 39 issues as well a ½ issues, showing Peter Parker as a 15 year old highschool sophomore in a new alternate Marvel universe that starts fresh. We see the same origin of him being bit by a radioactive spider and gaining powers and then losing his uncle Ben and feeling responsible. Only difference is this time around instead of all that taking place in one issue it’s all spread out into a 7 issue intro arc. We see him take on the Green Goblin, only this time he's a monster like hulk being that can throw fireballs. We see him take on the Kingpin who has Electro and The Enforcers on his payroll. Doc Ock gets an arc, Spidey gets introduced to Nick Fury who knows he’s Peter Parker, Spidey tells Mary Jane he’s Spider-Man and they start going out sooner than the OG series, and it all comes to an end with a crazy intro arc to Venom. In between are some non arc specific issues that show his everyday struggle of juggling the life of a highschool teen and a masked superhero.
Brian Michael Bendis is the writer for this series and as I said in my title, he writes the most influential Spidey comic ever! Now sure there are things he took from all the super talented writers to write the web-head before him, but what he does on his own stands out very highly to me and clearly to other people as a lot of what he brought to the character is shown in other mediums featuring Spidey. Reading this run I really saw how much was taken and put into the movies, and I mean *all* the movies. From the original Raimi trilogy, to the ‘Amazing Spider-Man’ duology, and even the later MCU trilogy and appearances in general. I’m talking straight up panels put into film in every film throughout the 20 years that they’ve come out. There’s been video games inspired by this series, cartoon series, hell they eventually took this universe and put it into the original 616 universe (albeit with a different character as Spider-Man, but still). It’s all just a fresh take on the character that is so consistent that in my opinion it is the best overall Spider-Man series. Bednis shows a true masterclass with the writing too, as it all feels engaging and even issues where it’s just characters conversing it still feels like a satisfying read and is important to move the plot forward. Bendis likes his dialogue and will fill a page with it but he’s so damn good at it that it doesn’t feel like blabbing. He also knows when to leave the page silent though, and let the art tell it all. He builds up an intensified shot and lets the emotional reaction of the characters speak for itself. It’s honestly some of the most fun I’ve had in reading a book and could have more and more of it.
On artwork is Mark Bagley and I think there was no better match than him. He is no stranger to Spider-Man as he drew the character quite a bit back in the 90s and in my personal opinion, is the best to ever draw the character. This series was a career defining moment for Bagley cause it showed him drawing a familiar character but his approach and style to it was fresh and new. The whole goal of Bagley and Bendis was to capture that youth of Peter Parker/Spider-Man, and look wise, Bagley executes perfectly. It also shows how prolific Bagley is as a consistent artist. Him and Bendis broke the record for longest artist and writer duo streak, and in these first 39 ½ issues it looks consistently good. His reimaged character designs pay respect to the originals but also hold good on their own. Great action scenes, detailed display of emotion, great body language, and fluent panel to panel transitions.
Overall; This is hands down the best way to start reading Spidey or if you need a fresh take on the character who's been around for 60+ years, even though this series is 20+ years old in its own right, it’s a timeless series that I and many other people love.