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Latest Posts

Marvel Mayhem: Ultimate Beginnings

It turns out those busy bees over at the Complete Marvel Reading Order have been even busier, adding reading orders for Ultimate Marvel, the Golden Age and what they're calling the “Expanded Order”, which begins with the Golden Age, includes all the supplementary stuff that's not part of the main reading order (Earth-616, for those who aren't in the know) and the complete order.

 

As if climbing the Mount Everest of comic nerdery wasn't enough, now these guys are attempting to orchestrate the Moon Landing.

 

I took advantage of this break from the main order to read some of the Ultimate books. A refreshing change of pace, considering the more modern style, which means a) FAR less communists and aliens as the bad guys; b) ZERO Human Torch spin-off stories (yet); and c) much easier reads thanks to the more modern style of comics.

 

Let's dive right in, shall we?

 

1. Ultimate Spider-Man #1

Publication Date: November 2000

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis

Artist: Mark Bagley

 

I think Bendis is one of the most reliable, though overworked, writers in current major-house comics. He does good work here, re-inventing the origin of Spider-Man and noticeably slowing down the pace of the story. Even though this is a tale that all comics fans know by heart, Bendis brings an entertaining take on the matter.

 

Rating: 4 out of 5

 

2. Ultimate Spider-Man #2

Publication Date: December 2000

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis

Artist: Mark Bagley

 

That slow pace continues here, but in this case, the issue seems to suffer from it somewhat. Not a lot happens in this issue, which seems to follow lock-step with the early plot from the first Spider-Man movie. (Not the Andrew Garfield one; the Tobey McGuire one). Seeing a cameo from one of Spidey's greatest villains, before his villainous days, was my favorite part of the issue.

 

Rating: 3 out of 5

 

3. Ultimate Spider-Man #3

Publication Date: January 2001

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis

Artist: Mark Bagley

 

The new series is really starting to hit its stride. Treating Peter Parker's origin as more of a slow burn, stretched out over the span of enough issues to fill a TPB (because it's modern comics and everything has to be shoehorned into TPB format) also allows deeper exploration of how a teenager might react if he had time to adjust to all these powers and changes. Peter Parker the nerd now is a star basketball player and, behind a homemade costume, a wrestling star on the local circuit. Some of my favorite art yet of the series in the sequence where he takes on the Crusher.

 

Bonus points for the new explanation of how Spider-Man acquires his iconic costume.

 

Rating: 4 out of 5

 

4. Ultimate Spider-Man #4

Publication Date: February 2001

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis

Artist: Mark Bagley

 

Lots more action in the preceding issue, and this one takes an introspective approach and delves deeper into Peter's character than any other installment to date. Bendis' story digs deep into his motivations, and we see Peter react to his newfound talents like most teenagers would. By letting his grades slip and getting caught up by his newfound stardom.

 

Uncle Ben's speech is strong. Different than the one in the original, or the one in the movie, but it still has impact and it'll be the foundation of this entire run.

 

Rating: 4 out of 5

 

 

5. Ultimate Spider-Man #5

Publication Date: March 2001

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis

Artist: Mark Bagley

 

A sublime end to this protracted origin story, even though most of what goes on is harrowing. There's a very intense start to the issue involving Harry Osborn, who has some major parental issues of his own taking place while Peter Parker deals with the loss of his beloved uncle.

 

The art in the final issue of this origin arc is simply tremendous. One gripe I have about modern comics is the overabundance of splash pages, but Bagley saved all his ammunition for this final chapter. Take your pick between the two-page depiction of Uncle Ben's unfortunate fate, or the two-pager of Spider-Man's first steps toward fighting crime and living up to the words of his uncle.

 

Just tremendous stuff. I'd recommend this arc to any comics fan, whether it's someone new to the medium or someone who wants to experience this origin story for the first time.

 

Rating: 5 out of 5

 

Arc Rating: 4 out of 5

 

6. Ultimate Marvel Team Up #1

Publication Date: April 2001

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis

Artist: Matt Wagner

 

We get our first look at this universe's version of Wolverine and Sabertooth, as well as some teasers to some other tantalizing introductions (Magneto! Weapon X!) The story told is a simple one but it's told well. The page structure makes it easy to follow a story that's heavy on action and short on dialogue. I really enjoyed the art. The two-pager of Wolverine and Sabertooth hurtling off the rooftop was fantastic.

 

Rating: 4 out of 5

 

7. Ultimate X-Men #1

Publication Date: February 2001

Writer: Mark Millar

Artist: Adam Kubert

 

Lots to like here. Millar provides a fast-paced, but entertaining and altogether engrossing origin story on these X-Men. The short looks at Beast, Storm and Colossus and how they made their way to the team set the table for an eye-pleasing brawl through downtown New York against some Sentinels. And Magneto quickly establishes himself as a top villain. I give it very high marks.

 

Rating: 5 out of 5

 

 

Posted in: Comics