I’ve been catching up on my Ultimate Spider-Man, for reasons various and sundry. The volumes that haven’t been reviewed at Bureau42, I’ve reviewed here. However, this storyline – the introduction of the Ultimate Universe’s version of the Sinister Six, has been reviewed there. Thus, I’m taking my review of this storyline to my blog here, so I can kind of review it in my own little way, with a bit of an aside about the state of your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. This review contains some spoilers.
First off, I enjoy the Ultimate Spider-Man part of the Ultimate Universe, but it’s the only part of the Ultimate Universe that I like. Mark Millar’s work rubs me wrong in almost every respect. Ultimate X-Men turned me off the moment they decided that Ultimate Cable was future Wolverine (as if Wolverine wasn’t over-used enough). However, Ultimate Spider-Man has managed to balance Peter Parker’s angst with the more light-hearted face that Peter puts forward as Spider-Man in a way that the comics in the main Marvel U haven’t, for reasons that I can best tell are related to Editorial fiat.
For instance, I like Peter being in a steady romance, say with Mary Jane. Editorial doesn’t. I liked it when Peter was a science teacher in High School. Editorial didn’t. I like it when Peter has moments of happyness in his own life, and when he has a steady anchor to come back to. To be absolutely honest, if they’d kept Peter’s marriage with Mary Jane, I wouldn’t have been upset about Aunt May’s death. I can understand why they did One More Day/Brand New Day. Civil War stuck them into a corner thanks to Peter revealing that he was Spider-Man while he was Pro-Reg, and then going to the Anti-Reg side. Nonetheless, I don’t have to like the fact that they did it in the first place.
So, putting that aside, Ultimate Six is a good story. It is not, however, a good Spider-Man story. The series is based around, as I mentioned earlier, the Ultimate Universes’ version of long time Spider-Man enemy team, the “Sinister Six”, with a tweaked lineup for the Ultimate Universe – specifically, Doctor Octopus (Otto Octavius), The Green Goblin (Norman Osbourne), The Sandman (Flint Marco), Kraven the Hunter and Electro (Max Dillon). Each villain has been previously beaten by Spidey and imprisoned in SHIELD’s version of a Super-Max for Super-Villains (Omega-Max?). If you’ll notice, that’s just five.
Well, as is to be expected when the series starts off like this, there is a break-out by the villains. Their goal – destroy Nick Fury, and to force Spider-Man, who Norman calls “his son”, to join them. The ultimate problem (no pun intended) is that Spider-Man really didn’t need to be a part of this story. Seriously. Yes, there are segments which have Spider-Man (and Mary Jane, and Aunt May) in them, but does Spidey have any actual agency in this story? No.
Who takes down the Six (well, Five)? The Ultimates.
Who does all the fighting against the Five? The Ultimates.
Does Spider-Man do anything for most of this except get exposited to or watch events happen? No.
That said, this will have some impact on the future of the Ultimate Spider-Man series (such as Harry Osborne watching his father be defeated by Iron Man), but frankly, there isn’t a lot of Spider-Man in this series that couldn’t be cut out entirely without changing anything, except maybe making this a issue or so shorter.
If you’re getting into Ultimate Spider-Man through TPBs of back issues, then I can reccomend getting it, but this is not the Ultimate Spider-Man series finest hour.