Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Graphic Novels - Ultimate Spider-Man: Power and Responsibility

Well, here it is…ULTIMATE…SPIDER-MAN…Yeah. Not X-Men. I don’t know if I will ever do that GN on here. Anyway, since Amazing Spider-Man has just come out (and I still haven’t seen it), I thought it would be good to look at a piece that may have influenced this movie a little bit.

 For those who don’t know, Ultimate Spider-Man was the first of a new series by Marvel Comics. Basically, it was a whole new modernized universe with the characters we love. We would see their origins modernized and up to date. Spider-Man and the X-Men pretty much started out this Ultimate Universe and it was a success. The Ultimate Universe is still around in some fashion today but things have changed a lot. One thing about this universe I like is that literally anything can happen. And yes, ANYTHING, even horrible crossovers.

The creative team for this GN and the USM book at the time was Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley. Bendis is pretty much known for the Avengers stuff and other things like his run on Daredevil and a book called Powers. I don’t know much about Bagley. I do know that he used to be on the Spidey books back in the 90’s. The issues in this trade are the first seven issues of USM. For this, I’m going back to the issue by issue format.

Part One
We start out with Norman Osborne and his scientists working on various projects at Oscorp. Some of these projects include things like using the chemical called OZ on spiders. At a mall, we get introduced to Peter Parker, a 15-year old kid. Some other guys start to mess with him while Mary Jane Watson watches on in sadness. Luckily, Pete’s uncle, Ben Parker, shows up and the guys stop messing with Peter. The next day at school, Peter is still getting picked on by Flash and his friend, Kong. Luckily, Harry Osborne shows up, stops them from picking on them, and even picks on the bullies. Later, at Peter’s home, the two study for a bit until Pete gets lost in his own sciency stuff. Harry head back to his father’s place, but Norman has no time for him.

The next day, the students go to Oscorp for a field trip. On the trip, a spider breaks out of its cage and bites Peter. He passes out from the bite while the spider gets crushed by Kong. They patch him up and he's fine. Unknown to them, Norman wants Peter watched. The next day, we get an idea of what the spider has done to Peter as he “accidently” takes out Kong and passes out again. At the hospital, someone working for Norman gets a sample of Peter’s blood. Through a sample of blood, Norman finds out that Peter will die from the bite he wants a hired hand to kill him anyway.  Later, the goon tries to kill Peter, but he gets away thanks to his ever growing powers. After he gets into an argument with Ben and Aunt May, he heads to his room and realizes that he has powers.
I remember when I used to do that...oh wait, Never mind!

Part Two
The issue starts out at school. While Ben Stein puts everyone to sleep with Voodoo Economics, Peter has suffers a side effect from the bite and breaks his desk. Flash and Kong pick at him again. Later, at gym, Flash tries to put the moves on MJ and Pete ain’t having it. He throws a basketball at Flash, so you already know these two are gonna fight. After school, they fight…or Flash swings and Peter dodges. The fight freakishly ends when Flash hits Peter and that breaks his hand. Ow.

At Harry’s house, Kong tells Harry all this while Norman spies on the conversation. At the Parker house, it turns out that the Parkers have to pay Flash’s bills. Another argument breaks out between Peter and his aunt and uncle. Later at night, Peter leaves and heads to a secret place where can test out his powers fully. The next morning, he apologizes to Ben and May. Later, Harry takes Peter to Oscorp to show him around. It turns out that this was trap set up by Norman to lure Peter there and Harry didn’t know about it. A doctor, Doctor Octavius, takes his blood and Peter runs out of there. At the lab, Octavius tells Norman that the OZ isn’t killing Peter but that it’s making him stronger and healthier. Norman then decides to recreate the accident by using himself as a guinea pig…..That should turn out well!

Part Three
The issue starts out with Osborn telling his scientists that that he wants to be the next guinea pig. Naturally, the look a little worried. We then shift scenes to another familiar scene. Peter, MJ, and a couple of others are at a wrestling match. The announcer announces that if anyone can beat Crusher Hogan, they will win 500 bucks. This gives Peter an idea. Later, we see him trying on a makeshift costume in his room. Later, we see him fight Hogan and kick his butt. The announcer gives him the money and offers him a spot in the arena. Peter agrees and leaves to anonymously give his aunt and uncle the money. Aw. The next day at school, Peter is approached by the coach and he asks him if he can take Flash’s place on the basketball team. Peter, who’s on a roll, agrees and we get a montage of him playing ball.
Peter: I'm King of the World!!!
Crusher: PUT...ME...DOWN!!!!

After he accidently ticks off MJ, he’s on to the arena again to fight and get paid. After the match, the announcer names him Spider-Man. Later on, the two talk business and the announcers a little worried because he doesn’t know who under the mask. Spidey tells him that’s the way it has to be. The announcer then gives Peter a new costume…I  think it looks familiar. At the house, Peter tries it on for the first time. We then cut back to Oscorp as Harry sees the experiment about to take place. Norman’s assistant kicks Harry out of the lab as the OZ is injected into Norman. The issue ends with a yell.

Part Four
We start out by finding out that the lab has been horribly wrecked. A lot of the scientists are dead including Osborn’s assistant. Harry and Octavius are still alive though. Norman is missing and is presumed dead. We then cut to Spidey at the arena winning another match. Afterwards, situations get tense. The announcer can’t find the petty cash, so he assumes that Spidey stole it. Spidey tells him and the rest of the wrestlers that he didn’t do it, but they don’t believe him, so he hightails it outta there. As he walks home in his clothes, he runs across a robbery taking place. He could have stopped the robber from escaping, but he doesn’t and tells the store owners that he has his own problems to deal with. Our hero, ladies and gents! At home, he finds out that his grades have been slipping. He gets into another argument with Ben and May and he then storms out of the house. For some reason, he heads to Kong’s house and  Kong lets him stay.
 An example of some off artwork.

Later on, Kong has a party. While Kong talks to Flash and another guy, Pete is getting hit on by a drunk Liz Allen. MJ is at the party as well and she sees them together. She runs out and Peter chases after her. He then runs into a P O’ed Uncle Ben. The two go outside and argue about how things are going. Ben gives him the speech we all know well about power and responsibility. Still, Peter storms off into the night. Elsewhere, we see a hulking figure tear through trash in an alley. We then cut back to Peter and he decides to tell Ben and May about his powers. When he gets home, he sees the cops and an ambulance.

Part Five
We start out with a scream waking Harry Osborn. It turns out to be his Mom, so he runs toward here room and finds her dead and the room ablaze. He then sees the hulking figure from before. The figure shoots fireballs at Harry, but he dodges them and runs out of his house. The figure leaves by leaping out of there. We then cut back to the Parker house. Aunt May tells the cops what actually happened. A guy broke in and Ben tried to talk him down. The guys shot and killed Ben and left.  Peter overhears a couple of cops say that the killer is held up in some warehouse, so he leaves and suits up to take care of the guy.
All we need is some awesome music here...Ah!

At the warehouse, Captain George Stacy is trying to tell the perp to come out, but he doesn’t. Spidey sneaks in and kicks the crap out of the perp and he finds out that it was the robber from before. He ties the guy up and throws him out of the window. Capt. Stacy only sees Spidey for a second. Elsewhere, Peter realizes he inadvertedly caused this and now realizes that he needs to use this power responsibly. We get an awesome montage of him kicking butt and taking names. He heads back to his house and sees MJ waiting for him. They talk and Peter begins to break down in tears. The part ends as MJ consoles Peter.

Part Six
The issue starts out as we get first glimpse of the Daily Bugle staff holding off everything to make Spider-Man the main thing. At Parker house, Peter is putting the finishing touches on his web slingers. It turns out that this was a project that his dad worked on but never finished. For some reason, he’s decided to work on this in his briefs. Put some pants on! Anyway, doing all of this work can pretty much drain you, so the next day at school he’s knocked out. He ends up going through another desk-breaking incident. Funny. After class, we find out that Peter has quit the basketball team. Then Harry shows up. Everyone goes over to console him about his losses. Suddenly, it all goes bad as an explosion happens at the school. Harry knows that it’s the figure that’s come after him.
The Green Goblin??? I guess I can accept that.

Peter is able to get away from everyone and change into costume. He heads back into the school and finds the figure, who I’ll just call ‘Goblin’ from now on. He and the Goblin fight and mostly tear up the school. The Goblin gets a head on Spidey as they go through the roof of the school. As they fight, Peter realizes that this Goblin knows who he is.

Part Seven
Spider-Man and the Goblin are still fighting in the air. Goblin drops Peter to his death, but Peter naturally uses his web shooters to rebound and the fight continues. Everyone at school is still trying to see what’s going on. The fight then eventually moves on to the Brooklyn Bridge.  Eventually, the cops, in helicopters, get involved and the end up attacking both Spidey and the Goblin as those two fight. The cops shoot at the Goblin and that hurts it a little bit. Pete tries to stop the violence it doesn’t stop. After they gun the Goblin down, he jumps in to the river.

The cops then set their guns on Spidey. Spidey tries to explain himself, but they shoot anyway. Spidey does the natural thing and gets out of there. Later, he gets back to the school and changes back into his civilian clothes. He gets back with his class and Harry starts to lose it. He tells everyone that the Goblin was his dad, Norman. Of course, everyone doesn’t believe them but Peter does believe him a little. Pete’s aunt and MJ’s mom show up and do the usual motherly thing.  The issue ends with Peter worrying about Harry. At the bridge, bubbles are coming up from where the Goblin fell in.


Wow, that was pretty long. I think I know why I stopped doing it like this. Actually, I don’t have too much to say about this. It’s GOOD, Very good. I like the modernized setting, the characters and the story. The artwork is pretty good. Everyone looks like what they should look like. I did notice that this origin doesn’t deviate too much like most of the other origins for other Ultimate characters. We get a lot of detail with these characters and the world they live in. We feel for Peter during certain times in the book especially  when that moment happens. I also felt that a lot from this story reminded me of the first Spider-Man movie. For example, we have a fight with Flash, Green Goblin’s the villain, and MJ’s the main girl.

I really don’t have many complaints I do think the artwork gets wonky in the fourth part though. It’s not bad, but it feels off from all of the other parts kinda like it was rushed or something. Also, this version of the Green Goblin takes some getting used to. Mix the Hulk and The Human Torch and you get this guy. It's not bad, but I do like the original version better. It's like someone said "We need Green Goblin to look EXTREME!!!" or something. This version is  leagues better than the Green Goblin aka "Random Power Ranger Villain" from the first Spider-Man movie though.

After I read this first volume, I set out to find the other volumes. They’re actually pretty cheap at this one book store I go to. I have 2-4, 6-8, and 11 as of now. I have thought about doing this series like I did Teen Titans a way back when. By the way, I really need to finish that. Well, I’m out. Next time, it’s gonna be a Batman tpb.


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