Ultimate Spider-Man is a re-imagining of the classic Spider-Man mythos for modern comic readers.
This collection- a Barnes and Nobel's exclusive- is a real deal! It is comparable to the high quality, over-sized Omnibuses that Marvel has released for things like Brubaker's Captain America and Bendis' Daredevil. The book weighs in a almost 1000 pages. Its dimensions are slightly larger that a standard sized comic. Within this hefty tome you will find the first 39 issues of Bendis and Bagley's acclaimed run. This makes up the first six story arcs.
Storywise, we have an arc covering Spidey's origin and the Green Goblin; one that revolves around the Daily Bugle and the Kingpin; A Doc Ock \ Kraven arc; a story involving Peter's first encounter with Nick Fury and SHIELD; a Spider-Man impostor and the Death of Gwen Stacy's father; and the debut of Venom.
A lot of ground is covered- as you can see- and it is a ably handled by the creative team. Bendis' dialog heavy style of writing may not be for everyone, but I personally enjoy the way he tells these stories. Bendis' builds a great supporting case- one that pays serious dividends in long run of this book. I believe the rich, well round supporting cast may be the series greatest strength,
Long time Spider-fans will no doubt recognize a lot of the ideas \ plots that Bendis put into these stories from the original Marvel comics. However there are often twists and variations on the original setups that will surprise devotees.
All this is would be nothing without Mark Bagley's strong graphic story telling. Though Bagley may not be the flashiest penciller working in comics today, he certainly is one of the most consistent. His characters are always on model. It is always clear who's-who and who's doing what. Bagley's art on this collection is solid but does not have the energy and flair the series would have later under Stuart Immoen.
If you're looking to check out Ultimate Spider-Man, I'd say this collection is among the best places to start. It is currently out of print, but readily available used from Amazon and eBay and the like. Originally retailing at $50, it is still available at or below this price with a bit of patience and digging.
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