Friday, April 8, 2016

Trade Tales! - Ultimate Spider-Man Volume 9: Ultimate Six

Let’s see if I can keep the Ultimate Spider-Man juice up for a while. As for the latest news, we have finally seen what Spidey will look like in Captain America: Civil War. It was only a glimpse but he did look fine. It’s definitely got a classic look to it.  I’ve gotta see what’s up with those eyes though. I still wish other movies didn’t get pushed back for another Spider-Man movie, but I just have to get over that.

Today’s trade is a bit of a mix. Ultimate Six includes Ultimate Spider-Man #53 and a seven-issue mini-series that came out between 2003 and 2004. As you could probably tell by the title, it has to do with this universe’s version of the Sinister Six, a team of Spider-Man’s villains. Not only is it that, it’s also a place where the Ultimates (This universe’s Avengers) basically get to do something after their first series came to an end. Brian Michael Bendis writes it all. The regular team of Bagley and Thibert handle the USM issue. For Ultimate Six, Trevor Hairsine is the penciller and Danny Miki handles the inking. Former EiC Joe Quesada also penciled some pages of the mini.

Ultimate Spider-Man Volume 9: Ultimate Six
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Pencils: Mark Bagley, Trevor Hairsine, and Joe Quesada
Inks: Art Thibert and Danny Miki
Colors: Dave Stewart, Ian Hannin, Avalon Studios, Transparency Digital, and Richard Isanove
Letters: Chris Eliopoulos

The trade actually starts out with Agent Sharon Carter giving a debriefing about an incident involving Flint Marko, aka Sandman. It turns out that SHIELD is on the lookout for ones that have illegally had their genetic code changed. The event in question actually took place right after Spider-Man’s big battle with Doctor Octopus in Volume 3. Her team finds Marko and he violently attacks them. Luckily, Spider-Man is still around to help out and subdue the villain. After Carter goes on a rant about the illegal genetic mutation (and kind of sets up Ultimate Six), she goes her way.

Ultimate Six itself begins with the Ultimates apprehending Electro (Max Dillon) from the hospital. Later on, they end up apprehending Kraven the Hunter after he was done with a TV interview. It turned out that he wanted payback against Spider-Man, so he went out and got his genetic code redone.  We find out that SHIELD has these two as well as Norman Osborn (Green Goblin), Otto Octavius (Doctor Octopus) and Sandman in a hidden area. Since they’re obviously a danger, the plan is to try and rehabilitate them and remove their powers. Hank Pym/ Giant Man is overseeing the project. Nick Fury lets the other Ultimates know about this and Captain America is a little upset about the whole thing since this stems from the Super Soldier Program.

Things go for a shift when Fury visits the inmates. Osborn almost starts something when Dr. Pym squashes the situation literally. Things start to look up when Octavius starts to talk to the scientists with hopes of rehabilitation, but that gets squashed when he turns on them with his tentacles. He breaks the others out their bonds and they go to town on the installation. A lot of SHIELD agents get killed and Dr. Pym is seriously injured. Fury and the rest find out at the Triskelion. Fury wonders what could happen with them out there and he immediately thinks about Peter Parker.
Definitely not your father's Sinister Five.

He sends Agent Quartermain to find Peter and bring him to the Triskelion. He also gets Aunt May secured and has agents trailing Mary Jane. While Peter (who looks weird in this whole mini) meets up with the Ultimates, Fury gets called by the White House. It turns out that Osborn knows someone at the White House and he tells the President about Fury’s little secret. Osborn also blackmails them. Of course, the President chews Fury a new one over the whole thing. The Ultimates find out where they villains are hiding and head there. Unfortunately, it all turns out to be a distraction when the villains attack the Triskelion and take Peter (who’s in his costume without a mask for some reason).

Fury and the Ultimates return to the Triskelion and survey the damage done. While some lives were lost, their prisoners (Bruce Banner/Hulk and Magneto) didn’t get out or anything. At the villains’ new base, Peter wakes up and is greeted by the villains. It turns out that Osborn kidnapped Peter so he could be the sixth member of their sinister group. Peter refuses, but Osborn forces him into a deal by threatening to hurt Aunt May and MJ. At the Triskelion, Cap and Fury get into an argument about SHIELD and the government messing with genetics when Fury realizes what the villains might do next: attack the White House.
Dang... Also, where is your mask, boy?

His assumption turns out to be correct as the villains show up on the White House. Norman’s blackmail was ignored, so the group takes out the battalion that’s guarding it. Peter does nothing but watch the carnage. Luckily, the Ultimates show up with the Helicarrier in tow. Our heroes take on the villains in epic style. Spidey doesn’t know what to do, so he tries to attack Capt. America who assures him that his family and friends are safe. After those assurances, Peter decks Green Goblin. The villains start to drop like flies as Wasp takes down Doc Ock, Iron Man takes down Sandman, and Kraven gets shocked by Thor. Thor also takes down Electro.

Fury uses a different method to take down Green Goblin: Harry Osborn. Harry tells his dad to stop and he does start to transform back, but an untimely gene blast from Iron Man does something to Osborn. He’s left unconscious in mid-transformation state. Peter tries to console Harry, but Harry basically says he’ll kill all of them one day for what’s happened to his dad. In the end, the villains are incarcerated separately and Peter reunites with Aunt May. The story ends with Cap and Fury talking about how the next war that’ll be fought will be a genetic one.

While this isn’t one of the best from the volumes, it’s fine. This was definitely a departure from Peter’s world in Ultimate Spider-Man. It’s more in the venue of the Ultimates but without Mark Millar’s writing. It’s less a Spider-Man story and even an Ultimates story for the most part. If anything, it’s Norman Osborn’s and Nick Fury’s story since they pretty much push everything that happens here. I thought the idea of the Six including Spider-Man was an interesting way to go with the concept. I thought the way Fury and the government was used was interesting.

I like how it handles the villains here. They’re all clearly defined and have different motivations. This is definitely a team you shouldn’t mess with since they end some lives here. I like how they basically fool the good guys on almost every occasion. While Spidey has a limited role here, I did like how he was used. He was kind of stuck in a sticky situation. I thought the Ultimates themselves were okay. I’m not a big fan of the group in the Ultimate Universe, but I think Bendis helped make them a little more likable here. I also liked the small scene with Aunt May. It was also cool that we got to see Harry Osborn for a little bit. Know that he will return one day…

I don’t have many negatives for the story itself. It does take its time a bit too much. It doesn’t have much a whole lot of action in it. We get a few snippets of the Six (technically Five) doing things, but we really don’t get a big battle till the end. Luckily, the battle which takes two issues does bring the action.  I also think it feels a bit dull at times since the non-action bits weren’t that interesting at times. I did think that the ending was pretty rushed. After the battle, everything gets wrapped up really quickly. Lastly, what was up with Peter not wearing his mask at all in the mini? There is a story reason (he wasn’t wearing it when he was kidnapped) but I just thought that was a weird decision.
Man, who knew the Ultimate George W. Bush had a mouth?

Then we get to the artwork. The artwork in the USM issue was good as usual. I know it seems like a broken record, but Bagley and the rest bring their A-game on that art. I have no complaints there. As for the art in the mini, I’m pretty mixed with it as a whole. I did think Quesada’s few pages were good. Trevor Hairsine kind of does what Bryan Hitch did for the Ultimates and adds a lot of realism to the artwork. There were places where it worked. I thought the action scenes themselves were fine.

Where the artwork for the mini fails for me is the faces. They tended to look weird at times. Peter’s face especially looked weird. He didn’t even look like someone named Peter Parker. They could also look inconsistent at times even with the same character. They’d even sometimes look muddled. I think either the coloring or inking wasn’t really too my taste with the mini itself. The artwork may be why I’m not thinking of the whole mini in a good light.

Unmaskings/Revealings of Spider-Man: 2
Peter doesn’t wear his mask at all in this mini which is something that really perplexes me. He didn’t have his mask on when he was kidnapped, so there is a reason. Still, that doesn’t sit well with me. Now all those other villains know his identity. Osborn and Octavius knew his identity already since they played in his origin. Dillon knew of his face but the rest didn’t know until now. The rest of the Ultimates also learn of Peter’s identity and that does make sense because Fury and even Wasp have known for quite sometime. Man… I think I know where Arrow and Flash get the “everyone knows their identity” thing from now.

Total Unmaskings/Revealings of Spider-Man: 11

Here are my highlights for the trade as a whole which aren't many:
-Doctor Octopus’s escape - Doc Ock's plan to break everyone out was pretty cool. It had a creepy feel to it since you don't necessarily see it coming. It's also here where we find out that he can control his tentacles from long distance.
-The Final Battle - The final battle on the White House grounds was cool. Not much to say there.

Overall, this trade is okay. It’s not the best of the run but there is merit to it. It does lack some Spidey goodness. I also think my dislike of the Ultimates is why I’m not feeling this one. It has good things though. If you want to see villains team up, you’ll probably like it. Well, that’s another one down. Next time, we move back to the standard USM books. We meet (or re-meet) a classic foe and someone else finds out Pete’s identity… yay. Until then, Peace and God Bless.


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