Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man #2
By Zak Edwards
September 28, 2011 - 21:01
Writer(s): Brian Michael Bendis
Penciller(s): Sara Pichelli
Colourist(s): Justin Ponsor
Letterer(s): Cory Petit
The argument that every superhero comic is simply telling the same story over and over again can certainly be a convincing one, especially if the person arguing it wants to name drop Joseph Campbell somewhere in the middle of it, but I think one of the things that draws us to comics, and indeed most genre stuff, is their ability to be new in something old and expected. This is certainly the logic of the Ultimate Marvel Universe: it takes something extremely familiar and makes these things seem new again, even if they aren’t. Perhaps the major downfall of the Ultimate line in recent years was a sort of waking up to this fact as things began to be predictable and overly familiar. The reckless abandon of the early Ultimate X-Men turned into the predictable retellings of older stories until one of the final stories, which used the same artist as a story told in the regular continuity less than a year later. Through all this waking up, however, Ultimate Spider-Man seemed to be immune, or at least self-sustaining. The stories, sometimes retellings, sometimes new feeling, seemed fresh and certainly remained entertaining. Looking back, it’s hard to point to a single long line of issues that were out-and-out bad or borrowed too heavily. It's an accomplishment when you think about it, especially considering the main Marvel universe is practically constructed by the writer of Ultimate Spider-Man. But I think Ultimate Spider-Man, in this newest incarnation, has finally hit this point, this awakening as it were. At least I feel like I'm finally waking up.
All this being said, Sara Pichelli can officially draw any book she likes in my opinion. An extremely talented artist I love more and more every time I pick up one of her books, she has an unmatched handle on emotion and expression, not to mention characters that look like people rather than the problematic adolescent pin-up fantasies seen in the DC books (namely the outrage at Catwoman #1 and Red Hood and the Outlaws #1, an outrage I completely agree with). Pichelli’s characters never have a default facial expression, they are constantly expressive rather than the default bored look some characters can get, and these continually changing faces just make every panel so much more communicative in context. These are people who look like people in theory and in practice, but with energy and style as well rather than an attempt at photorealism. The aforementioned joke, where Miles attempts to show off his powers to his friend, is a perfect example of Pichelli’s ability to convey emotion without dipping into hyperbole like many artists with this amount of energy tend to do. It is, simply put, a perfect page, and I think I’m going to continue reading this book for her art, even if this story doesn’t convince me to stick around.
Grade: B Good for newcomers, bad for old fans, but still wonderful to look at.
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