Ultimate Spider-Man #66 Review

Reviewer: Tim Stevens
Story Title: Even We Don’t Believe This

Written by: Brian Michael Bendis
Pencilled by: Mark Bagley
Inked by: Scott Hanna
Colored by: J.D. Smith
Lettered by: Chris Eliopoulos
Editor: Ralph Macchio
Publisher: Marvel Comics/ Ultimate Marvel

(Sort of spoilers ahead. Sorry, I just can’t discuss the issue without giving away the gag)

The Peter Parker of the Ultimateverse has been having a tough time of it as of late. For the past year, he has had a movie made about his superhero career without his permission, gotten beaten up and kidnapped by Doc Ock, nearly shot by his friend Gwen Stacey when she figured out he was Spidey, reconciled with her, donated his blood to science only to have a life sucking monstrosity cloned from it, said monstrosity killed Gwen, and Parker was forced to destroy it. Needless to say, his world perspective changed a bit and his faith in humanity was left greatly deteriorated.

All of it was well told, but somewhere after the first or second chapter of “Hollywood” Bendis stopped bringing the funny. It was understandable, given the subject matter; it would, after all, seem a bit inappropriate to have Spidey cracking wise over the corpse of one of his closest friends. However, after 6 or so months of the doom and gloom, as well told as it was, it is easy to forget that Ultimate Spider-Man is, at times, one of the funniest books on the shelves.

This issue reverses that trend effortlessly from the pre-amble on. The issue opens with a shiny globed Bendis warning that this is not a story that the writer needed or even (really) wanted to tell. Meanwhile, poor Bagley toils away at his drawing table, chained in place. And from there, we are dropped right into the morning of the story where both Logan and Peter wake up to find that things… are a touch different.

The issue is filled with amusing little moments that reveal the real person living in another’s skin. Logan’s reactions to Aunt May, Mary Jane, and the cheerleaders (as well as Aunt May’s reaction to him) are priceless. Plus, it does nicely to recall the “issues” Wolverine has with teenage redheads in the Ultimateverse.

Parker’s reactions are far less calm and pleased with the state he is in. While Wolvie is only annoyed with the switch (and school in particular) Parker is utterly panicked. And panic more often than not leads to him stabbing himself with his (or Logan’s…) own claws.

Closer in tone to the Ultimate Spider-Man Team Up stuff that Bendis did a few years back (the X-Men and Fantastic Four issues in particular) than the past year or so of Ultimate Spider-Man, this issue is a welcome relief. I had no idea how much I was missing the humor of this book until it came back, a credit to both the way Bendis writes serious and comedic storylines.

As always, the art team is on key. By this point, I am fairly sure that Bagley, Hanna, and Smith could do this book in their sleep. Every issue is clean, clear, well laid out, and seemingly never rushed. After 66 of these, the fact that this level of quality is maintained is laudable.

I’ll give a shout out to Eliopoulos here as well, just because I don’t think anyone ever shows the letterer love.

This one won’t move mountains or change the world, but it sure is a lot of fun.