Sunday, August 16, 2009

Thoughts on Ultimate Comics: Spider-man #001

I have enjoyed the Ultimate Spider-Man comic book over the years.  Sure, it suffered a bit from decompression and the dialogue was occasionally long-winded, but it was a decent reimagining of the Spider-Man mythos for the new millennium.

So I was a bit worried when it was announced that all of the Ultimate comic books would be coming to an end with the Ultimatum event.  The few titles to survive the event would be relaunched under the Ultimate Comics brand.

It turned out my worries were at least partially justified.  The Ultimatum event hijacked Ultimate Spider-Man issues #132 and #133, turning them into barely coherent garbage.  Seriously, I hate few things more than when you can’t follow a comic book you have read for years straight because it is tying into an event.

They followed this up with two Ultimatum: Requiem: Spider-Man issues (say that three times fast) which seemed to be an excuse to dump some filler issues that wouldn’t work anymore.  I mean, it has a repentant J.J. Jameson writing Spider-Man’s eulogy and he chooses to write about some time Spidey battled Hydra in Tony Stark’s office?  Please.

Marvel, if you want me to read fill-in issues, please don’t be so brazen as to call it a “mini-series” and charge me $3.99 an issue for it.  This merely insults my intelligence and makes me less likely to buy your comics in the future.

Man he has a big head! Not surprisingly, when I picked up my comics this week I actually intended to drop Ultimate Spider-Man from my pull list.  However, since the comic shop guys had already pulled Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man #001 for me, curiosity got the better of me and I figured I might as well read it.

I am stunned to say I actually enjoyed it.  Starting six months after the Ultimatum: Requiem: Spider-Man, the book manages to ignore most of the garbage that was Ultimatum.  Brian Bendis did use the six-month gap introduce a couple of plot twists for longtime readers.  He also killed off a character that I did not expect him to in the final few pages of the first issue.  In any case, after so many months of disappointment I was very impressed with this comic.

So will I stick with it?  I am not sure.  The biggest factor against sticking around is the price.  The first issue was $3.99, and frankly that is too much to be paying for a mere twenty-two pages of entertainment.

Another problem I have is with the new artist David LaFuente. In general, I enjoy his work in the comic.  Unfortunately, his art style has one fatal flaw that is tough for me to let go: his Spider-Man looks extremely cartoony.  Spidey’s head is extremely large in proportion to the rest of his body.  In fact, his proportions often seem closer to those of a Warner Brothers cartoon character than to a comic book character.

Since I don’t mind stylized art, this probably wouldn’t bug me as much if it was consistent.  However, Spidey is the only character who seems to suffer from this issue, which makes it stick out even more.

Still, maybe I will get used to Spidey’s big head over time (or David LaFuente will tone it down).  On the other hand, the price is not going to go away.

Maybe I should just start picking it up in the trades?