By Zak Edwards
January 13, 2008 - 18:45
How is it that Brian Bendis can spend an entire issue discussing Norman Osborn, a.k.a the Green Goblin, and things about his character readers already know and then deliver an extremely rushed ending in the same story line? If there is a fault to be found in this otherwise stellar story arc, it would have to be pacing. Brian Bendis, with the help of artist Stuart Immonen, has brought Ultimate Spider-Man up to being one of the best super-hero comic books around, and is very accessible for many different audiences. Fans of lots of super-hero action can find that in this title, as well as readers looking for time spent outside the super-hero costume. A warning before I get into the review: Spoilers ahead!
The plot mainly involves Harry Osborn, whom his father Norman transformed into the Hobgoblin, fighting his father in a blur of big Goblins beating on each other. The fight is continually interrupted by Spider-Man, who serves little purpose this issue despite being the title character. Fighting is also interrupted by the new fledgling director of S.H.I.E.L.D, Carol Danvers. The climax of Norman killing his own son is lost, with the page count being used instead to show their fighting with fists and the emotional impact is simply not present. The same with the off-panel possible death of Norman Osborn, there is no conveyance of emotion or significance to the action, Norman is presumably shot in between pages and his body is not even there anymore.
The most effective display of the significance of this arc does play itself out in the end of the issue with Peter discussing Harry Osborn in class, but I felt this to be melodramatic and only half true. This ‘eulogy’ scene made Harry out to be more than he was, I think. Peter is a hero, Harry was a scared child for most of this series, and yet Peter describes how much of a hero Harry was. I found myself disagreeing with Peter rather than sympathizing which is obviously not the point of the scene. Another great story arc in Ultimate Spider-Man is almost ruined by the concluding issue, but I am confident that Brian Michael Bendis has brought this series back to its former greatness and will continue to keep it there.
Stuart Immonen’s art had some problems this issue as well, lacking an ability to convey what was going on in the less action-heavy scenes. While his pencils are still very well done, perhaps a combination of a sub-par script and poor layout has led to this issue being unable to portray the emotion that is going on. Harry’s death was shown but not felt until Peter’s eulogy scene at school, probably because Bendis attempted a more silent approach to his death and it did not work as effectively as he likely hoped.
The action sequences were much more effective, with some of the bigger panels featuring some great art. Much of the smaller panels worked well to bridge between these bigger panels. So overall Immonen’s art worked well as the issue was so action heavy, but the conveyance of emotion and consequences of these fight scenes was lost.
5.5/10 Ineffective storytelling with both the art and script. A low point in an otherwise very solid arc.