I remember when I first heard of Ultimate Spider-Man and I winced. Fresh from Byrne's Chapter One I feared anyone touching the origin but Bendis won me over.
Even though his Green Goblin was lukewarm, his Norman was spot on. His Spider-Man was FUNNY. ("Who sent you?" "Carson Daly?") New additions like Kong were actually great. Kong's a bully like Flash but not a tool so you find yourself liking him.
Then came Ultimate Venom. Frankly you could really tell Bendis was fighting Jemas every step of the way here and the story was really rushed so my enthusiasm tempered.
Then I read Ultimate Six and was convinced Bendis just didn't want to do this anymore. Dragging the Ultimates in and having most of the fights happen off camera (I wanted to see Thor VS Electro dammit) really disappointed me. Then I heard Gwen gets killed by Ultimate Carnage and thought screw it and set the series aside.
Flash forward a few years and because I was psyched for Spidey 3, I bit the bullet and bought volumes 5-9. Despite Spidey 3, I was still psyched about the books and burned through them.
Volume 5 The bitter taste Ultimate Six left in my mouth had overshadowed how awesome the Spidey movie arc was but not his time. So many awesome little touches like Spidey being an Evil Dead 2 fan, Arad being a complete scumbag, Bruce Campbell starring as Mysterio and turning out to be an utter coward, Kong's one line in the movie... fun stuff.
Volume 6 Reading all the Special Feature notes from 4 I was quite saddened to see all of Jemas' retarded ideas reused for Carnage and Gwen killed in what was essentially a re purposed deleted scene.
Spidey and Logan switching bodies only really worked because of MJ's revelation at the end that Logan (in Pete's body) was up to NO GOOD.
Volume 7: After turning Harry into the Hobgoblin (no Ultimate Roderick Kingsley? Almost as big a travesty as the apparent lack of Ultimate Ted Sallis!) Bendis is back on track with a story about Hammerhead making moves on Kingpin's territory. Holy S Word, the cynical in me sees this as a mere setup for Ultimate Knights but c'mon! Iron Fist! Shang Chi! Moon Knight! Electra switching sides mid-fight! Black Cat's strong advances on Spidey followed by her flip flopping in the fight too. This book is the single biggest Geekgasm Bendis ever incited.
Volume 8 Peter dates Kitty. Hoorah. This will be awesome as long as Bendis doesn't run out of steam and write Kitty off in a complete non ending. But wait I'm getting ahead of myself.
The Peter/Kitty chemistry is fantastic and the more Bendis writes her the more I see why so many of my fellow fanboys were enamored with her.
Other than that, Ultimate Morbius and Silver Sable were fine but not terribly memorable.
Except of course, Flash Thompson selling out Spidey to Lifetime. Heh.
Volume 9 (Clone Saga) Fanboy whining: Why the hell isn't this thing numbered "9" on the side so it will fit on shelf next to the other 8 who all large numbering on their sides? Will the next volume be 9 or 10? If it's 10 (which it technically is) then that means I'll have 1-8 lined up, CS shoved in there, and then 10. Which would bother me in a completely compulsive way.
What a mixed bag this is. I'm actually not one of those people who sees the original CS as the low point in Spider-Man history (I'm about to drop $30 on E-Bay for a Scarlet Spider figure) but I wasn't sure if I wanted Bendis to go here. Both Venom and Carnage were stories he didn't want to tell, and when he told them you could tell.
The fact that this turned out as well as it did makes me think it was his idea.
The good: The FF's role.
Reed getting up in Fury's grill.
The big reveal of Otto as being the Doc behind the mess.
The Tinkerer geeking out by watching the confrontations. The Spider-Man/Spider-Woman VS Ock showdown (including them stepping on each others jokes)
Peter telling May his secret, then proving it, awkwardly grinning as he clings to the roof and Aunt May is just disgusted.
Fury's speech to Peter where he admits that circumstances pointed to Spider-Man becoming the world's greatest super villain.
The bad: I'm willing to accept the Scorpion as a Spidey clone ONLY if I get me some Ultimate Scarlet Spider. Where was he Brian?
The X-Men showing up so late all they could do was have Kitty catch Peter kissing MJ. What a poor sendoff for that relationship.
MJ infected with Oz. Um... no. Just no super MJ ok? I was so afraid Spider-Woman was an MJ or Gwen clone so my relief was tempered by MJ becoming a red evil furry monster.
Gwen-Carnage. Just a continuation of the Ultimate Symbiote Mess.
The most interesting clone, the black suited, 6 armed, Tarantula-haired/Wolfmanesque guy, gets punked and dies so easily. I would've got a kick out of seeing him running around the Ultimate Universe. Not only is he a clone but he looks like a freak. Like, Nightcrawler would awkwardly pause before talking to him freak. So much dramatic and comedic potential wasted.
Hopefully someone else has thoughts on this as rediscovering Ultimate Spidey has reignited my comic reading and if you're off the wagon maybe this can get you back on.
Just uh... don't spoil anything after the first 9 HCs please.
Through various means, I've been able to read all of the Ultimate titles, and I probably enjoyed Spiderman the most. However, the Clone Saga SUCKED. It seemed like every page was making more angry and frustrated than the last.
The first run of The Ultimates, with a sexually frusterated and belittled Banner running loose on New York was excellent. The writing then was up to snuff as well, what with callback to Ultimate Marvel Team-Up of all things. There was that dialog with the Avengers/Ultimates talking about who would play whom in the movie roles too. Everything since that first half of the first run of The Ultimates has been wa-a-a-a-y too slow to produce and when an issue would come out, way too political, as Millar is wont to be.
Is anybody running a sale on those first nine Ult Spidey hardcovers, because I'd love to pick them up as one.
I'm not sure how I missed this one, but Dave Arneson, co-creator of D&D passed away (kotaku.com) earlier this week. I'm just old and geeky enough to remember Blackmoor and Arneson's much lighter approach to D&D.