Ultimate Spider-Man

⭐⭐⭐⭐ averaged across 1 books.

tl;dr: The series that reinvented the world's favourite web slinger, not once, but twice.


MarvelGraphic Novels

Power & Responsibility

Spoilers Ahead: My reviews are not spoiler-free. You have been warned.

I've owned the first half of the Ultimate Spider-Man run for almost six years, but I only recently managed to finish out the main plot arc, so figured now would be as good of a time as any to restart my read-through. Well, the opening volume is just as good (and corny) as I remembered. Sure, some of the distinctly turn-of-the-Millenium slang is hilariously dated now, and there are more than a few cringeworthy moments in terms of the way women or people of colour are treated, but there's nothing too egregious and (for the most part) these shortcomings are framed around the villains, rather than the heroes, so can at least be read as clunky attempts at making them as evil as possible.

But the real focus here is on the rebooted Peter Parker, who now finds himself in a much more diverse, modern, and realistic New York City. I like the additional back story around his parents, and his dad's work tieing into the creation of the web formula is a nice touch (even if it is a little deus ex machina). Plus, the slightly younger Aunt/Uncle dynamic is fun, and breathes a little more depth into proceedings; they give Peter a little more scope to be a wise-cracking kid with a strong sense of morality. Of course, their biggest role is Uncle Ben's death, which hits all the right emotional beats and takes a slightly frustrating Peter and turns him into the hero we know and love. Again, this feels like a little more realistic of an origin story, one way and another.

On the other hand, Norman Osborn has devolved into the biggest douchebag in the world. I know Osborn is never played as a particularly good father or even that likeable, but here he's ruthlessly evil, which does feel a little odd. Spider-Man's villains are normally redeemable, to a degree, but I can't see how they bring someone back who purposefully murders his own wife and most of his colleagues. From what we've seen of him, Doc Ock may not be getting a much better deal either...

Still, the design of this Goblin is very sinister and matches the more exaggerated style well. Indeed, the art is great throughout, with a clear aesthetic that suits the characters and story well, whilst still feeling distinctively unique in its own way. Pacing and dialogue are both also great, too, and by the end of the five or so sections the story, world, and main characters are all set up, well rounded, and ready to go.

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