Ultimate Spider-Man #122
By Zak Edwards
June 4, 2008 - 21:44
Writer(s): Brian Michael Bendis
Penciller(s): Stuart Immonen
Inker(s): Wade von Grawbadger
Colourist(s): Justin Ponsor
Cover Artist(s): Stuart Immonen
$2.99 US, $3.05 Canada
Brian Michael Bendis presents to his readers another one-shot story, teasing his readers with hype towards the story arc to follow these diversions. A symbiote war is approaching and Bendis is willing to toy with his audience a bit. But unlike last issue, which was more of an emphasis on the fighting, this one works to flesh out an unsuspecting character. The whole effort pays off as Ultimate Spider-Man continues its amazing run of near perfection. This series is almost bullet-proof right now.
This issue differs very much from the last in both tone and purpose. Where last month was a fun and enjoyable read filled with classic Spider-Man dialogue and fighting blended with Peter Parker’s life outside the pajamas, this story takes a cold, hard look at Ultimate Spider-Man’s whipping boy, the Shocker. The Shocker has always been a source of humour for Peter Parker’s alter-ego, easily and hilariously taking the character out from time to time, apparently weekly. But Bendis takes this month’s story to delve into the man behind the humiliation, and succeeds in adding depth to a purposefully shallow character while reminding readers that, while it is mostly an entertaining read, Ultimate Spider-Man is capable of much more emotion and adult material. It is i this issue that I was reminded of Uncle Ben’s death, that issue with Aunt May talking to her therapist, and the issue just after the death of Gwen Stacy where the main cast is in detention. While those stories and moments are forever engraved on the series much more than this single issue, it is through the dialogue between Peter, and make no mistake, this is Peter and not Spider-Man, and the Shocker that reminds of those past experiences. Bendis also uses this story for two other very important factors that have yet to be addressed, namely Spider-Man’s police situation and the former girlfriend versus other girlfriend conflict between Kitty Pryde and Mary-Jane. It looks like Peter Parker may have another ally in the NYPD to replace the corrupt Captain DeWolf thanks to the alliance of Peter’s former/current girlfriends. Why couldn’t the same happen in my own life? The final confrontation with the police fleshes out Ultimate Spider-Man’s world, but it is the final, loaded line of “Oh, it’s this guy again...what a joke” that takes a character purposefully a joke to one that actually evokes pity. A complete character turn-around and development, all within a single issue.
Stuart Immonen, by now almost every reader of Ultimate Spider-Man either loves or hates his art and I personally enjoy his pencilling. Seeing Immonen get a handle on the two-page panelling, flow, as well as improving the the dramatic pieces while retaining his grasp of the action sequences has been a fun ride. Some of the emotion can become flat at a distance and is especially apparent in some panels where important characters are back further. But the pencilling is past the point of fitting the script, but enhancing it. It feels less and less like someone trying to draw Bendis’ script and more like a collaboration. Bagley who?
8/10 While still another stall, this stand-alone issue works in a different and better way than last month’s fight scene.