Nut Ink. Mini reviews of texts old and new. No fuss. No plot spoilers. No adverts. Occasional competency.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Ultimate Spider-Man: Volume 1: Power and Responsibility (2001)

Author: Brian Michael Bendis | Illustrator: Mark Bagley | Page Count: 200

Above is some brief information about why this title launched. You can ignore it if you’re not interested.

There’s no flaffing around in Brian Michael Bendis’ Spider-Man.  It introduces the teenage Peter Parker, his friends and family, sets up the relationships he has with them and gives a glimpse of the world in which they all exist.  Then BANG!  The spider bite, the transformation, and the crux of the story takes hold.

Comics are often filled with narrative boxes that document what a character is feeling; it gives a reader an insight into the head-space of the Hero but an overreliance on them can be a crutch.  Bendis makes use of them, it's difficult not to, but he keeps them at a minimum in the early stages.  What he does instead is revert to a ‘show don’t tell’ attitude that gives the story a real vibrancy and immediacy; it filled me with a desire to get to the next page as hurriedly as possible, which is the opposite of what I normally do because I like to take in all aspects of the work (construction, style, art etc).

Artist Mark Bagley understood this approach and fills his panels with everything necessary to communicate the unspoken parts.  In just a few pages writer and artist show Peter’s isolation, Mary Jane’s compassion, Harry Osborn’s arrogance, Uncle Ben’s paternal longing and Aunt May’s stern but sensitive role-play.

I know Bendis has his haters but I would argue that when he didn't dilute himself across multiple titles he was damn good at what he did.

If you want a Spider-Man origin story that closely resembles the Sam Raimi film version, and you want a great comic that starts strong and keeps on giving, then Ultimate Spidey is highly recommended.

The book collects together Ultimate Spider-Man issues 1 – 7.

4 after school activities out of 5

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