Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Ultimate Spider-Man, Volume 7

My review of Ultimate Spider-Man, Volume 6 was kind of lukewarm. While there were fun elements of it, I really felt like Brian Michael Bendis shied away from the more emotional aspects of the story.

I'm happy to say that with Volume 7, Bendis shows what he can really do. Now this was a good story. Spidey meets Hobgoblin, and what a mess that is for the poor guy. The guy is scary psycho crazy and dangerous, but he is also Peter's friend Harry Osborn. Peter wants to help him, but can he? And in the next story, there are guest stars gallore in a big gang war with the Kingpin. We see Iron Fist, that boring kung-fu guy, Moon Knight (somewhat less lame than the regular Marvel universe version of him), Elektra, Black Cat, and Hammerhead. We see some cool fights, but we also see Peter grappling with whether or not he should follow Kingpin's wishes and take out Hammerhead. After all, Hammerhead is no doubt a bad guy, but is he really going to do what Kingpin wants?

What makes this book so much stronger than the previous volume is what happens in between all of the action scenes. Mary Jane, it turns out, used to date Harry and never told Peter about it. She manages, yet again, to find herself in peril, in part because she didn't heed Peter's advice to stay away from Harry. Peter decides that he loves her too much to put her at risk, so he breaks up with her. Both of them are utterly heartbroken. Peter starts to question whether it shouldn't be "Spider-Man no more," but rather "Peter Parker no more." If he can't handle having both identities, maybe the super heroic one is the one to keep. Can he truly be close to anybody? And where is he without people he loves like MJ and Aunt May? This story had a lot more heart to it, and that made all the difference.

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