||[Aug. 10th, 2010|03:16 pm]
Today I finished all 133 issues (and 3 annuals, plus 2 "Requiem" limited series) of Ultimate Spider-Man. And it has to be one of the best ongoing comics series I have read.
I think it was back in 2001 I picked up the first trade paperback. What made it great for a young reader like me was the accessibility; unlike the regular comics, it didn't have an intimidating 40 year (at the time) history. It was a fresh take on a character I was only partially familiar with due to a watered-down Saturday morning cartoon, in a modern setting I could relate to. Unlike the mainstream universe where Peter Parker was now a teacher, married, had clones running around, and his enemies and friends have all died and come back a handful of times, Spider-Man was back to basics: A teenager struggling with his new super hero identity and high school life. I managed to get up to #25 until losing interest and ultimately forgetting about it due to the movie hype dying down. There was also a video game released in 2005, with an original story set between the comic, which I enjoyed, but not enough to get me back into the comics.
Earlier this year, I decided to finish the entire thing after hearing it was concluded. Even with over 100 issues to read through, it's just as fun and accessible as it was back when I first read it. It takes the best of the Spider-Man mythos, and makes it just as fresh and interesting as it must have been back in the day. It also adds new things that I'm sure would make old writers think "why didn't I do that?". What makes it all mesh together is that it was all done under a single writer and artist team, Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley, which keeps it consistent throughout, unlike most comics where writers come and go, picking and choosing which of their predecessor's work should stay and go. I believe they even hold the record for longest writer/artist collaboration since Stan Lee and Jack Kirby's Fantastic Four back in the 60's. Bagley left the comic after 112 issues, and replaced by another great artist, Stuart Immonen until the conclusion.
If you're looking to get into Spider-Man or superhero comics in general, this is a great place to start. Although what goes on in this series doesn't reflect what's happening in the regular marvel universe with it's secret wars and civil invasions and whatnot, so don't expect to come out of it knowing who Unus the Untouchable or Paste Pot Pete is.
The series continues as "Ultimate Comics Spider-Man", and a new cartoon series based on Ultimate is being produced by Man of Action (The Ben 10 guys), and Paul Dini (Batman TAS) is helping write alongside Bendis himself.