Friday, 3 January 2014

‘Ultimate Spiderman (Ultimate Collection) Book 2’ – Bendis, Bagley (Marvel)

When Hope was a little younger, we went through phases where all she wanted to watch on the telly was Peppa Pig. I can handle Peppa Pig in small doses (especially when Brian Blessed is playing Grampy Rabbit!) but there’s a limit to that and I reached it very quickly. What I did then was put on all my old superhero DVDs in a frantic attempt to find something that we could both watch on a Saturday morning… and it worked! Hope loves watching the ‘X-Men’ (favourite characters: Wolverine and the ‘blue Beast’) and ‘The Fantastic Four’ (favourite characters: Johnny Storm and the ‘big orange Thing’) but her favourite by far is Spiderman. Hope now has more Spiderman DVDs than I do, and can’t get enough of watching him, so when I saw the ‘Ultimate Spiderman’ book, on sale, it seemed like a no-brainer. Shows what I know… Hope gave it a polite once over and went back to her Spiderman toys and DVDs… It’s a good job I enjoyed it then :o)

‘Ultimate Spiderman Book 2’ collects ‘Ultimate Spiderman ‘ #14-27 and has Peter Parker going up against Doctor Octopus and Kraven the Hunter (as Spiderman) as well as the return of the Green Goblin. If that wasn’t enough, Peter has to deal with all the stuff that any high school student deals with on a daily basis. And how is he going to fight crime if he has been grounded…?

I’d never really read too much Spiderman (no ‘Ultimate Spiderman’ at all) until Hope got into the DVDs; I was pleased then to find out that you don’t really need much background knowledge to get into this book, it may break down into a series of very simplistic confrontations but it all builds from the ground up with only the merest of connections to previous issues. You get that sense of continuity then but it doesn’t swamp the reader, I wish more comics could be like that.
With confrontations lining up to be had then, this book is all about the action with Bendis and Bagley combining well to deliver stunning sequences that really benefit from the added context. It all happens for very good reasons and it also felt really fresh and interesting to see familiar faces doing the same kind of stuff but in slightly different ways. Doctor Octopus, for example, has real motivations for his actions that raise him well above being another cartoon supervillain.

With all of this going on then it’s real credit to Bendis that he gives Peter Parker’s ‘normal’ life the same kind of intensity and pulls it off at the same time. Peter’s life is full of problems and they all carry equal weight, whether it’s fighting the Green Goblin or trying to hold down a job at the Daily Bugle. We might have our own ideas about what the important stuff is but Bendis has really nailed that part of Peter Parker that wants to do the right things all the time. And don’t we all want to be a little bit like that?

Bagley’s artwork is a tough one to call, coming across as a little too cartoonish for my tastes but hitting the spot dead on when it really matters. Bagley really instils that sense of the acrobatic in Spiderman and makes the ‘wall crawling’ and action panels eye-catching to the point where I sometimes had to remind myself to keep reading. Lovely stuff at just the right moments.

‘Ultimate Spiderman Book 2’ is a well-balanced and well-drawn piece that I had a lot of fun with and I reckon Hope will too, if she finds that’s she after a bit more than just the DVDs. I don’t know if I’ll ever find the other books at a reasonable price (thank you Amazon, thank you very much) but I’d certainly read more.

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