Comic rants: Ultimate Spidey #130 & New Avengers #49

1003841_fulUltimate Spider-Man #130

Coming off the heels of the asinine house-cleaning crossover event Ultimatum, Spider-Man has his hands full: conflict, supporting cast members, and an overarching storyline boiling over. Let’s try to get you up to speed:

Ultimate Spider-Man is a ten-year long endeavor to re-tell Spider-Man for a more modern audience. Yeah, they’re doing that in the regular books too, but this is done well. It’s a teenage Peter Parker who became Spider-Man in the 2000’s, as opposed to the ambiguous 1964-era. Since then, we’ve seen writer Bendis and artist Mark Bagley reinvent and invigorate some blaze characters and stories and make them into timeless, prudent, interesting canon. When Bagley left and artist Stuart Immonen took over, there was very little concern. I can see why, as the artist took over the reigns without any real struggle, giving the book a new-yet-familiar look and continuing its tradition of excellence.

Along with Spidey, we got a lot of other revamped versions of characters. Captain America, Iron Man, Hulk, The X-Men, etc. It’s all part of a new universe of characters.

Anyway, our issue here picks up with Aunt May being taken into police custody due to everyone on the planet pretty much knowing Peter Parker is Spider-Man. She tries her best, but anger spouting cops nearly ruin her composure. It’s then that events from Ultimatum (a gigantic tidal wave killing half of New York) rolls in and fucks everything up. Aunt May leaves the building, to discover the carnage wrought by the wave. People are dying, property destroyed– it’s a mess. A typical Parker, she immediately jumps into protector mode and tries to help everyone in sight, most notably one of the cops who tried to put her away. It’s then that Spider-Man’s female clone swings in and incriminates May further (admittedly, by accident). And yes, it makes sense in the grand scheme of the story.

Spidey’s additional supporting cast including former X-Man (and former girlfriend) Kitty Pryde, her current boyfriend (and former Peter-bully) Kenny, and the always-around girlfriend Mary Jane. Oh, and Gwen Stacey, brought back to life through cloning and living costumes. Everyone tries to get their bearings, as they run into the pickiest bunch of bigots on the subway, who nearly refuse salvation from Kitty due to her icky mutant genes. Frustration and fear leak into the group as they all wonder what Spider-Man is doing.

Spider-Man does his best to save people from a watery grave, though he admits the devastation may be too massive for him, alone. Re-capping events from the mini series Ultimatum #1, Professor X tells Spider-Man (and all the heroes at once) that Magneto caused the wave with Thor’s hammer, and a big, cool fight needs to happen. Spidey wonders just how trite that could be, right before the Hulk appears holding a car over his head, bringing us to the events at the end of Ultimatum #2.

What’s great about this book is that you don’t need to read Ultimatum to enjoy this comic, as the artist and writer take painstaking effort to recap the bullshit from that other comic for you. In most stories, I find this re-telling annoying. As Ultimatum is pretty horribly written, I don’t really mind. Especially since I read Ultimate Spider-Man from the very beginning. And that’s why this stupid crossover isn’t quite as stupid as other crossovers.

If you read Ultimate Spider-Man from Vol. 1 till now, you will be rewarded with character development, fun and interesting story arcs, and resolution. Bendis was given the keys to Ultimate Spider-Man back in 2000, and he hasn’t looked back. I personally hope he sticks around as long as possible, because it’s just about the best damn mainstream thing he’s writing.

Four flags, because I wish it were a story on its own.

New Avengers #491003829_ful

Coming off the heels of Dark Avengers and the similarly titled event Dark Reign, New Avengers fills in the gap between the last issue of New Avengers and the first issue of Dark Avengers. How does it hold up? Pretty well.

Luke Cage and Jessica Jones, leader of the New Avengers (sort of) and wife of Luke Cage (and former superhero) had a baby named Danielle sometime before the Secret Invasion hit. After the Secret Invasion finished, their baby was kidnapped by Skrulls, and the New Avengers display their ineptitude by asking the Fantastic Four for help and fail. Cage is then forced, as a dutiful father who let his kid get taken by aliens, to make a deal with the Green Goblin, current leader of the world.

The Goblin brings meathead Venom along to a super secret prison where Skrull prisoners of war are being held, along with Mr. Cage. The group meet two Skrulls in custody, and after Venom eats half of one, the other tells our crew where the Skrull who took Baby Cage might be.

Being absolutely right, Cage asks for the baby back. Flying in the face of expectation, the Skrull tries to negotiate the release of his comrades, and then immediately caves and gives Luke the baby. The kidnapper’s brain then explodes, revealing a sniper many blocks away– Bullseye. And yes, he even says it. Yes, just like in the movie Daredevil. It reads exactly as retarded as it was in the movie, too.

Luke delivers the baby to his wife like he was giving her a Valentine’s Day card, and then promptly beats the living shit out of Bullseye and Venom with a magic crowbar he stole from a supervillain tens of issues ago.

Goblin accuses Cage of being a man of dishonor, which makes Cage freak the hell out. He escapes through the window of a thousand-storey office building, and returns to his fellow New Avengers. The superheroes awkwardly stand around, the presence of a baby immediately revealing the ridiculousness of men in superhero costumes. They click on the TV and are privy to the last page of Dark Avengers, throwing the group into a frenzy (except for Spider-Man, who remains just as ineffectual and useless as he is in the mainstream books, now).

Clint Barton (aka Hawkeye, aka Ronin) gets the team together and invites them to kick some ass. The group seem mildly interested, by the last page, in instigating a grandiose fight for the soon-to-be-classic 50th issue.

One of my main criticisms for this book is the complete lack of effectiveness these Avengers have. They fight someone, and then leave them to escape. They talk about fighting someone, but don’t do it. They change their ranks, only to change them back. Surprisingly enough, there are a lot of scenes where the New Avengers hang out in living rooms. That should tell you something about this comic.

Was it a good read? Sure. The art isn’t terribly great, I’m afraid. Spider-Man looks like Rocky Dennis is under that mask. Captain America couldn’t look more awkward standing around these characters if he were doing it on a unicycle. I understand– this is The New Captain America, and he doesn’t have many friends, so he’s feeling uncomfortable. Still, this guy looks uncomfortable in his own body, much less in his own house (which is now their main headquarters, by the way). He does some great action when Cage hits Venom in the face with his crowbar, and he does a nice Danielle Cage, showing good expressions on the baby’s face. Otherwise, however, it’s a little off.

Two flags, especially compared to the first ten issues of New Avengers (which would all be fives).

~ by Crivelliman on January 29, 2009.

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