(Or, “Ultimate Spider-Man vol. 23” for those of you keeping track at home.)
After the hiccup that was “Ultimatum,” writer Brian Michael Bendis sweeps most of it under the rug and gets back to telling stories about comics greatest hard-luck superhero. On one hand, he’s now appreciated by NYC’s police force. On the other, he has a crappy job, a new supervillain to contend with in the form of Ultimate Mysterio, and girl trouble up the wazoo. Uh... that’s “up the wazoo” in a dramatic sense, not something that would involve his wazoo.
If you’ve been reading the series for as long as I have, then you’re going to get enough enjoyment out of Bendis’ dialogue and seeing him put Peter through his paces as usual. He does add some new wrinkles to the formula as Johnny Storm and Bobby Drake wind up coming to live with Peter, Aunt May and Gwen Stacy. It’s cool to see Aunt’ May’s house becoming a “home for wayward teenage superheroes” and the characters get an engaging dynamic going in this setting. That said, we find out early on that Peter and Mary Jane have broken up AGAIN for reasons that have yet to be revealed. This will probably make all the fans who wanted to see him hook up with Gwen happy -- as she’s his new squeeze -- but this is getting ridiculous. They’ve already broken up and gotten back together twice, so unless Bendis is REALLY serious about making this new dynamic work (which I doubt) then we’re well past the point of diminishing returns on this particular plot twist.
New regular artist David LaFuente is a worthy successor to past pencillers Mark Bagley and Stuart Immonen. He has his own distinct style that maintains artistic consistence with how we’ve seen the characters before, but he also knows how to handle the flow of an action scene and to depict convincing facial expressions and body language. So overall, it’s another entertaining volume in the series. Those of you who worried that “Ultimatum” ruined the Ultimate Universe should know that it didn’t ruin this series.