Ultimate Spider-Man #123
By Zak Edwards
June 29, 2008 - 15:30
Part one of the new story arc for Ultimate Spider-Man has fallen flat despite a solid effort on the parts of both writer Brian Michael Bendis and penciller Stuart Immonen. The series, chronicling a younger Peter Parker in high school, has been on a high note for over thirty issues now, consistently providing quality stories filled with high-flying action and teen drama. That is why this issue, despite being good, is a disappointment.
The problem is the shift in narrative voice and style for this issue. The issue is a single monologue of Eddie Brock, aka Venom. The host of the Venom symbiote is holding a pity party for himself (themselves?), explaining to random people on a park bench his life story. While this narrative style worked for Forrest Gump, it does not pan out as well here. Eddie Brock is not as interesting as Forrest Gump, and does not bring the same level of story as a man who did everything through some really cool points in American history. Much of Brock’s story has already been explored in depth in the past Venom arcs, making this issue a recap rather than a revival. It is the same style of story that was the low point of the ‘Death of a Goblin’ arc, where Bendis utilized the villain’s voice to recap their predicament and feelings. That story was terrible, bringing nothing new to one of Spider-Man’s most constant threats. The same can be said here. But the story does not become frustrating like the ‘Death of a Goblin’ story. It can get repetitive (I get it, Eddie Brock is hungry) but perhaps this is more necessary then Norman Osbourne’s. Brian Michael Bendis has made it clear this arc will tie into the Ultimate Spider-Man video game released three years ago, and so the recap is necessary for those without the video game, hence the random and unexplained appearance of Silver Sable and her Wildpack and their attempt to capture Venom. It’s unfortunate the change does not work, Ultimate Spider-Man has benefitted from the shift in narrative voice away from Peter Parker in the past. Most notably with Aunt May’s therapy session and issue #118 which chronicled separate monologue’s of some of Peter’s classmates. But the change does not work, making this issue a disappointment.
Stuart Immonen is great, seriously great in my opinion. Watching his development has been an added bonus to a series which has been at the top of its game for a long time, including almost every issue he has pencilled. When I learned of this Symbiotes arc, I was excited to see Immonen’s Venom and he does not disappoint. Tentacles and all, this Venom is both original and a throwback to Bagley’s own interpretation. The second last panel is a great homage to Bagley while being unique and discreet. Seeing the numerous action sequences with Venom, Immonen’s strong point with this title, are a gift. He continues to add to this already excellent title.
6.5/10 A drop in quality makes this book still the best mainstream superhero comic book on the shelves. Start reading it if you’re not!
Last Updated: June 23, 2021 - 00:45
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