Ultimate Spider-Man

Friday, May 3rd 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

It would be difficult to find anyone who isn't familiar with Spiderman. I mean, C'MON!! One of the most recognized comic book characters the world over, probably second only to Superman and/or Batman. He is, quite literally, a cultural icon, and has been for at least a generation. It is with these facts that I justify yet another of my superhero comic reviews that so vex those of alternative tastes.

But, seriously, this one is overdue. Ultimate Spiderman, by Marvel Comics, is one of the best-selling, and most popular Spiderman comics to be produced in years.

When Marvel first announced their "updating" of the character, an attempt to make him appeal to today's younger audience, I was one of the blanching naysayers, denying the value and announcing the eventual failure of the endeavor. I've rarely been more pleased to be wrong, and with very good reason.

Writer Brian Michael Bendis has taken a product that had grown incredibly stale over the years, and made it interesting and exciting again, using nothing more than the original mythos, slightly tweaked. His portrayal of today's teen culture, including speech, attitudes, motivations, etc., are closer than any comic adaptation I have ever seen (after 13 years working with teenagers). The stories are engrossing, and well written. The characters are immensely interesting, with a like-new shine that belies their decades-old history.

The art is no less pleasing. Probably the best modern-age Spiderman artist ever, Mark Bagely's drawing style is incredibly suited to this book. He demonstrates his mastery of character expression on every page, deftly handling low-key, contemplative scenes. Then, he switches gears, causing the action to practically explode in the reader's face. His visuals are a big part of the book's appeal.

Ultimate Spiderman is recommended for all ages, as it has helped put the "fun" back into superhero comics.

Find the two trade paperback collections Ultimate Spiderman: Power and Responsibility and Ultimate Spiderman: Learning Curve at comic shops, trade shows, bookstores or online catalogs.