"Ultimate Spider-Man, v.22"
Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Illustrated by Stuart Immonen
(Marvel Comics, 2010)
Wow. So, I guess this is the last volume of "Ultimate Spider-Man," which is a shame since this was the best of all the Ultimate titles, and the only one that never had a dip in quality -- Brian Michael Bendis definitely had the right bead on the Peter Parker character, and never let this book fall into the violence-for-simple-shock-value quagmire that brought the other Ultimate books down. From start to finish, USM has been a great book, with great heart, intelligence, wit and warmth.
Anyway, if you're going to go out, go out with a bang, right? In this volume, Bendis starts out with a teen-scene domestic drama -- Peter and Mary Jane talking about whether they should have sex yet -- that picks up the slack left by the cancellation of the also-superior, girl-oriented "Mary Jane Loves Spider-Man" series. After this strong and thoughtful beginning, the book slips into the apocalyptic "Ultimatum" storyline, in which Magneto lays waste to the New York City and, I guess, Marvel cuts loose the various Ultimate titles. Spidey's role is central and gripping, as he webs his way through the ravaged metropolis, saving as many lives as he can. Each episode builds on the last, coming to a conclusion that has a believable air of tragedy and finality. Along the way, Spidey's team-up with the brutish Ultima-Hulk is stunning, one of the best portrayals of Hulk I've ever read, and a great showcase for Bendis' version of the patent-pending Peter Parker/Spider-Man sense of humor. This was a great book, and a fine accomplishment on the part of Brian Michael Bendis. Congratulations on a job well done. Too bad it's (apparently) over. (DJ Joe Sixpack, ReadThatAgain book reviews)