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Book review: Ultimate Spider-Man: Vol. 1

Ultimate Spider-Man: Hardcover Vol. 1 Ultimate Spider-Man: Hardcover Vol. 1 by Brian Michael Bendis


My rating: 2 of 5 stars
A modern retelling of Spider-Man's origin, set in the early 2000s rather than the 1960s. The artwork is pretty good; a variety of colors, well-portrayed emotions, and dynamic action scenes. Unfortunately, the script falls short; it seems written for modern teenagers, who, apparently, have a much more limited vocabulary and greater use of slang than teens did in the 1960s (surprised?). I'd guess that only Spidey fans will enjoy this one.

I've been a Spider-Man fan since childhood, growing up on the 1990s cartoon and toys. I may have read a few of the comics at friends' houses, but they didn't interest me much. In the early 2000s, Marvel rewrote most popular comic books to take place in the present day. Ultimate Spider-Man was one of those comics.

I read a few issues in high school, because friends let me borrow them. When Marvel launched DotComics (a PC program for downloading and reading comics) in the early 2000s, I downloaded as many free comics as I could, many of them from the Ultimate line.

When I saw this book on the library shelf, I recognized the Ultimate Spider-Man title from a decade ago. Since I wasn't able to get every issue from friends or online back in the day, I checked it out.

I was somewhat disappointed. The trademark one-liners that Peter/Spider-Man is known for spewing during fights were mostly lame. The stories weren't particularly compelling. There's not a lot of character development for Harry Osborn or Liz Allan. Mary Jane was the worst; other than a few scenes of her studying, she's mostly represented as vapid eye candy.

The story is based on the original, but there are several changes; for example, Norman Osborn has Peter followed, and he discovers that Peter obtained his spider powers from the spider bite in his lab.

The Green Goblin and Kingpin are the main villains, but Electro and other minor ones appear as well.

One redeeming quality of this book came at the very end: a full-color reprint of the original Spider-Man comic book: Amazing Fantasy #15 from 1962, by Marvel legends Stan Lee and Steve Ditko.

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