Friday, September 25, 2009

_Ultimate Spider Man_ vols 15 and 18, by Brian Michael Bendis

I like what Bendis has done with Spider-Man in the Ultimate books, and I've been reading whatever volumes I bump into in the library. Since I know a lot of Spider-Man continuity anyway, I don't find this to be a problem.

With the Ultimate Spider-Man taking Spidey back to younger days, we get a lot of fun interactions between Spidey the teen hero and older denizens of the Marvel universe. And there's a lot of focus on how heroing messes up Peter Parker's life. Notable in these two volumes are a relationship between Peter and Kitty Pryde, a sequence where Flash Thompson is kidnapped by mercenaries who think he is Spider-Man, and in vol. 18, a great scene where Peter tells Aunt May about his secret life.

Aunt May comes off really well in this updating, as a smart, funny, strong older woman who has problems of her own. She's relieved to learn Peter = SM: "You don't know this but I - I was kind of obsessed with why this Spider-Man was so close to my life. Why was Spider-Man alwasys in the neighborhood? Why was Spider-Man there when Ben died? Why is he at your school? And now I see it's no mystery, it's just how unbelievably careless you are."

This leads to a sequence where Peter retells one of his superhero fight his Aunt. This lets Bendis' dialogue skills really come out. Peter's voice is great as he talks about fighting some guy with weird black-hole powers that even geeky Pete doesn't understand.

Peter: "These spots...he controlled them and they seemed to be maybe little balck holes, or little doors of antimatter, or little -- I don't know - he could toss black spots onto things and push objects and himself through them."

May: "I - I can't even fathom what you're talking about --"

Peter: "I know. I know. That's my point. You'd need to be a genius doctor of particle physics to even know the terms that describe what was happening and how they defied all of those terms and laws."

May: "Black spots?"

Peter: "I'm standing here and - and he's standing allt he way over there and I'm trying to find out what is happening and all of a sudden I'm being punched in the back of the head ... by him!"

I was charmed by how this sequence brought home the surprises of a superpowered encounter and Peter's point of view. I feel like comics readers lose some of that wonder after the fiftieth supervillain of the week shows up, and this sequence restored some of that.

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