Ultimate Spider-Man #23

We left Peter Parker with Norman Osborn in his study after Norman had injected himself with the chemical that made him the Green Goblin. That was one heck of cliff hanger if you ask me. One aspect of the Ultimate Spider-Man stories that I have loved have been the way Brian Bendis has found ways to keep you moving forward as the reader. You get a full story in one particular issue yet you get enough of a hook to reel you in for another go round in another issue. The important thing to remember in comics, and in writing period, is that you have to keep the readers with you. Whether it be to keep them moving to the next page or wanting them interested in the world you’re creating to get them to purchase the next book in your series, you have to be mindful that the story has to move along in some way, shape, or form. If you lose readers at any point, you’re letting them down as readers and frankly, you’re selling yourself short as a writer.

Once Peter and Norman leave his office they head into his living room to watch a video that a news organization made about Norman making a comeback. There’s one page that is a great combination of art and words together that shows the anxiety and fear Peter is going through as he is trying to digest everything he had just gone through. That’s the beautiful thing about comics. The words in the scene are pure exposition. Exposition is quite the tricky beast to tell in a story because for the most part, you’re just telling the audience facts and that can be boring. You have to have some hook to give the information the audience needs to know for later in the story without boring them to tears. Think of Back to the Future. Doc Brown had a lot of information he had to tell Marty, and by default the audience, about time travel. Reading the words in the script I am sure your eyes would glaze over but Christopher Lloyd was able to give one hell of a performance that kept the audience entertained all the while telling them what they needed to know for later in the film. For this issue, we were able to see Peter getting freaked out with every second that went by and ultimately saw what drove him to run to safety.

I have to say that while I enjoyed the development with Gwen Stacy in this issue, it came a bit out of left field. It has already been established that Gwen probably has a bit of a crush on Peter, that much I get but I do not recall a scene that established she knew where he lived. Maybe, just maybe, the link is with her father, the police detective who interviewed Peter after Uncle Ben was murdered and if that were the case I wish that were better established that she took that info to head to Peter’s home. I have to say though it was great to have more Gwen in the story. One thing the Ultimate comics did was pretty much, at least for me, supplant Mary Jane Watson with Gwen Stacy as Peter’s preferred girlfriend of choice which for this universe is not a bad thing at all. I just wish we had some clue in this issue as to why she came to Peter’s house. That hint around that things are not as they should be at home, and with her pulling a knife on Kong I say DUH, but we’re basically left with her popping up at Peter’s home just cause. Folks may say it gets explained later on. Sure, yeah it does. But there could have been a little more than hinting around as to why she showed up.

Bottom Line:

Not much of consequence happens in this issue but don’t take that as a bad thing. Seeds are being planted for the future here, especially with the cliffhanger in the last panel. One thing I have enjoyed in the Ultimate line of comics is that no matter what you’re reading, Ultimate Spider-Man, Ultimate Fantastic Four, Ultimate X-Men, etc., much work was done to make sure that the universe they were creating was as cohesive as they could make it. When you’re building a universe as big as what is being presented, you have to be very careful what you’re doing. Planning has to go into making sure every character, every scene makes sense in the grand scheme of things. Some of the issue folks have with comics coming from the big two, DC and Marvel, have to do with the fact that the universes they create can become so damn unwieldy. While the Ultimate universe did end up becoming a little bloated near its end, at this stage things are still going along at a nice clip. Even a bad issue is one you can’t miss.

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