Marvel’s various Ultimate series began as retellings of classic Marvel comics, simplifying decades of back-story for readers who would otherwise never catch up. The Ultimate versions can have interesting differences with “real” versions. In “real” life for instance, the Fantastic Four was the first big Marvel hit, but in the Ultimate universe, the Ultimates (Avengers) are more established, and the FF recent additions. Even more confusing is the central role of Nick Fury, who’s now a Black man in (most, but not all) Ultimate stories.
Spider-Man was the first Marvel character to get the Ultimate treatment, and ICPL’s newest is one of his best. It begins with a team-up with Spidey’s new girlfriend, Kitty Pride of the X-Men, which evolves into a jungle adventure with the X-men being hunted by anti-mutant racists. There’s a nice twist at the end that saves Peter Parker from getting busted by his Aunt May. Appearances by Blade, Daredevil, and the Punisher follow. While none of these characters really does it for me, the storytelling remains good, the artwork top-notch.
“Wait a minute,” you’re thinking, “back up. Everybody knows from the movies that Peter Parker’s in love with Mary Jane. What’s this about a new girlfriend?” Good question. Mary Jane knows about Kitty, and confronts Peter here, a touching scene. Author Brian Michael Bendis writes the best dialog in the business, and is at his best when Peter talks to the women in his life. --JohnFrom Staff Picks Blog