Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #155 - 'Death Of Spider-Man: Prelude' - Bendis, Samnee & Ponsor
Story - Marvel have been trumpeting the upcoming 'Death Of Ultimate Spider-Man' on the covers of the last 3 issues of Ultimate Spider-Man, but for the life of me, I couldn't tell you how the events of any of these comics are building up to something as big as this, all we've basically had is a team-up with Iron Man and the Black Cat, the return of Mysterio and the Zodiac Key. It's all very much business as usual for Ultimate Spidey, so much so that it almost seems stupid of Marvel to plaster a big warning sign on the covers, if they hadn't, when Spider-Man dies, it would actually be a massive surprise, which is something sorely missing in modern comics, and is one of the things the Ultimate line should be doing more of.
However, even if this comic wasn't labelled with Death, I think this issue may have aroused some suspicions, simply because things are actually going well for Spider-Man, and as we all know, if nothing bad happens to Spider-Man for a while, something catastrophic will happen, as soon as he's happy, God or a Goblin comes down and crushes him.
This issue was like a lot of my favourite USM issues, it wasn't a big action issue, it was about the characters, it was about conversation, it was a calm before the storm. The main chunk of this particular issue was the relationship between Peter Parker and J Jonah Jameson, who in the aftermath of the recent Chameleon arc, now knows that Peter is Spider-Man. The scene is brilliant, really illustrating the differences between this world and the world of the regular Spider-Man. JJJ is Spidey's longest-serving nemesis, but now he's supportive of Peter, giving him a regular job that he won't be fired from for doing Spider-business, and paying for his college. So far, so good.
Of course, there is a bit of action in this issue, as Spider-Man and Kitty Pryde/The Shroud take out what I assume are a group of Ultimate Rocket Racers, after this brief interlude of pesky action, Kitty returns, which is more good news, but does however provide my only problem with this issue, which is how Bendis writes out the character of Kong. Kong has been part of the book since issue one, and his growth from Bully to actually becoming friends with Peter has been a nice running subplot, to have him disposed of as a chicken who ran away to Wisconsin rubs me the wrong way. Hopefully he'll return, but without that stupid Mohawk.
The final scene is Peter Parker's birthday party, which he celebrates with all his "Amazing Friends", as well as Aunt May, MJ, Gwen, and who I assume is Sue Storm and Ben Grimm. He even gets some awesome new web-shooters, and kisses MJ, who agrees to get back together (They DO NOT have sex, don't believe some other misguided, sex-crazed reviewers).
So yeah, everything looks peachy for Ultimate Spider-Man, new (old) girlfriend, new job, new web-shooters, the return of his friend Kitty, and the trust and admiration of society. Yep, peachy. Time for him to die!
It's just a pity Marvel had to ruin it by advertising it really.
This was another solid issue of Ultimate Spider-Man, after over 150 issues, we pretty much now what to expect, the level of quality has remained remarkably consistent really, and Bendis still manages to surprise us. I just hope the equilibrium of the series isn't upset by the upcoming event, much like Ultimatum did.
Art - Chris Samnee is one of my favourite artists at the moment, and someone who I foresee big things for. I loved his work on DC's "The Mighty" and his sketchblog is brilliant. He does good work here, it's probably a bit more traditional than most artists who have graced these hallowed pages, but it works, his facial expressions are particularly good. His work here actually reminded me of John Romita's work on the 616 Spider-Man, particularly his Mary-Jane. I also liked how he snuck in Lockheed onto Kitty's hoody. Good stuff, here's hoping he gets to do more high-profile Marvel stuff.
Best Line - 'What am I walking into? (Swinging into....)'