Welcome to 52 in 52, a look at the vast world of Marvel Unlimited. I will be reading and sharing my thoughts each week regarding a different single arc or event from somewhere within the world of Marvel Unlimited, trying to find things I haven’t read that are relevant to the current comic or cinematic landscape, or completely irrelevant and just fun to read.
One year. 52 tales. One per week. Marvel Unlimited.
Let’s do this.
On the docket this week: Ultimate Spider-Man Greatest Hits *Warning, there be spoilers ahead*
ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #13, 66, 67 & 78
Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Art by Mark Bagley
Release Date: 2001-2005
With the Ultimate Universe being wound down, John has curated a set of Ultimate U “Greatest Hits” for me in the coming weeks of 52 In 52. I haven’t read a ton of Ultimate Universe stuff over the years, but I have read Ultimates 1 & 2, the Hickman run, and everything involving Miles so these Greatest Hits will highlight great issues outside of that set of things I’ve read before.
Starting with Ultimate Spider-Man, we’ve got 4 issues that highlight some of the best/most fun from the Bendis/Bagley era. Two things really stuck out at me while reading these four comics…1) Bendis is one hell of a writer, especially where teen characters are concerned and 2) Mark Bagley’s art is not my bag.
I’m not going to slag on Bagley’s art too much, because I respect the time he put into the epic run on USM and I fully admit that his style just isn’t my bag. I’m probably in the minority, and I’m cool with that. His work is consistent on these issues, and it gets the job done. Kind of like a lot of Romita’s work, it just isn’t my favourite.
Now….Bendis. Wow. I’ve always been a Brian Michael Bendis fan, and that is still true about these issues. The way he writes teen Peter & MJ is fantastic, and I really enjoyed his take on Aunt May. The middle issues feature a Freaky Friday with Wolverine and Peter, and it was just plain fun. There are some solid laughs in there, and Bendis really just gets these characters. Issue #78 is a fantastic MJ tale, and anyone worrying about her joining the cast of Iron Man needs to calm the hell down. In Bendis you must trust, especially where MJ is concerned, because I’d say he’s even better when writing her than Peter.
All four of these issues were accessible and I would consider them “classic” Spider-Man stories in the manner that Bendis totally gets the core of the character. The things that make Peter who he is are fully on display here, and I can see why this run is cherished by so many people. Mary Jane is a force to be reckoned with by Bendis’ hand, and her banter with Peter is flawless. As I’m writing this, my mind keeps going back to how well Bendis’ writes MJ in these 4 issues, even if she isn’t necessarily the “star” of a couple of them.
Brian Michael Bendis is one hell of a good writer, and these 4 issues of USM highlight that. His time with Miles in the “second” run of USM is brilliant and a lack of Brian Michael Bendis writing Spider-Man as the Ultimate U implodes may be the real tragedy of the line disappearing.
On deck: Something…Ultimate!!!
Special thanks to John Ernenputsch for helping to curate this adventure.