Comics : Ultimate Spider-Man #27

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This review was first published on: 2004.

Background...

The evil industrialist Norman Osborn is back, and what's more he can control his transformation into the Green Goblin with Oz injections. Before Peter knows it, everything has gone to heck - Norman has turned in the Goblin, and has his nasty hands around our hero's neck.

In Detail...

"Illegal"
Ultimate Spider-Man #27
Nov 2002 : SM Title
Summary: Spider-Man vs. Green Goblin
Editor:  Ralph Macchio
Writer:  Brian Michael Bendis
Pencils:  Mark Bagley
Inker:  Art Thibert
Cover Art:  Mark Bagley
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Review
 Reprinted In: Komikai Ultimate Spider-Man (Promo Reprint) #27
 Reprinted In: Spider-Man TPB (Ultimate) #4
 Reprinted In: Ultimate Spider-Man Reprints (Hardcover) #2
 Reprinted In: Ultimate Tales Flip Magazine #14

Spider-Man manages to break out of the chokehold and tries to drench the mutated Green Goblin in webbing. Spider-Man chucks a desk at Obsorn and hits him, but the desk ricochets off of him and out of the window. Spider-Man manages to catch it with his webbing before it can harm anyone below. The Green Goblin takes advantage and is about to kill Peter when Harry drives a piece of wreckage into his father's back. The attack on Peter stops and the Goblin reverts back to his human form.

Before Peter and Harry can talk, he passes out again. S.H.I.E.L.D. arrives on the spot, taking the Osborns into custody, Harry to be deprogrammed of all the hypnotherapy and restored to a normal life. Nick Fury tries to assure Peter that it all ended as well as it could have, and recommends that Peter enjoy his youth? Why? Because once Peter, the illegal, unnatural mutation, turns 18, he belongs to Nick Fury. Shocked and in tears with this dramatic cap to this trauma of a day, Peter bolts out of there.

Finding Mary Jane in the abandoned Warehouse, she expresses her relief, but then when Peter asks why she went to Osborn, Mary reminds Peter (and us) that she knew NOTHING about the Osborns. When she asks what happens to Harry, Peter is reluctant to share, heeding Fury's advice earlier that "Knowledge kills." The comic ends with a bit of distance between the young couple.

In General...

Hands down, this is one of the best Green Goblin stories ever published. Norman emerges in the readers mind as equal parts evil mastermind and deranged psychopath. The seeds are laid for Harry's probable fall from grace. One of the foremost relationships in comics experiences a strain. And, the ramifications of a world under the constant eye of S.H.I.E.L.D. ensure that Peter's life can never..EVER..be a normal one.

Bendis is often criticized for the slow pacing of his story arcs (which average about 6 issues in his other books as well), but that same pacing ensures a well-developed story, which is what we have here. And Nick Fury's involvement ties Peter and Norman's conflict into the greater context of the Ultimate universe. These two, in a way, are genetic heirs of the legacy of super-soldier Captain America. But they are at best illegitimate sons of that legacy, born into the superhuman world by violent accident. As such, S.H.I.E.L.D. and Fury are doing their parts to control them.

And poor Mary. Preivously the main confidant to Spider-Man, she is kept from information by the events on both sides of Spider-Man's mask, by Gwen Stacy's unknowing involvement and the fear Peter has of Norman and Fury's wrath. These two divides will be pivotal in their future interaction, I'm sure.

The action was relevant to the story and not gratuitous, even if it was stretched out across four issues. But it was an extension of the characters' interaction, rather than the characters' interaction being subservient to the action. And it was all masterfully drawn by Bagley as usual, from the Osborn Pentouse as a den of evil to the Queensborough bright ominously hinting at the previous events of another comic book, far far away.

Some may argue that Mary surviving the fall was a cheap way of rehashing Gwen Stacy's death in the mainstream Spider-books. I argue that her survival may have even more ramifications in Ultimate Spider- Man down the road. And the road looks even more treacherous than ever.

Bendis and Bagley do well with the characters of their book. However, when using Fury, who's a regular on Mike Millar's Ultimates, I think Bagley struggled at first to draw him. In #24, Fury looks like Charles Barkley in one panel, like Ice Cube in another, and like Samuel L Jackson in the next. Also, I wonder if dropping Quartermain's name is necessary when it could have been any generic S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, especially when Sharon Carter, a character Bendis has proved he can use, would have worked just as well.

Besides, Bendis has characters of his own that went unused in these last four issues. I can understand the absence of Peter's classmates and co-workers, but Aunt May definitely could have had more time.

Overall Rating...

The end of each issue left me at the edge of my seat. The twist was brilliant. And while the Obsorns are gone, their resurgence will leave an undeniable mark on Peter and Mary, the presence of Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. becomes a double edge swords, simultaneously enhancing the intrigue of the story and detracting from it somewhat. But since giving this arc anything less than four and a half webs feels criminal, I leave you with a near-perfect score.