Comics : Ultimate Spider-Man #157

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This review was first published on: Jul 2011.

Background...

Peter and MJ are back together again. Norman Osborn is still alive and has broken out of a S.H.I.E.L.D. containment facility along with Dr. Octopus, Electro, Kraven, the Vulture and the Sandman. During Spider-Man’s second super hero training session, this time with Captain America instead of Iron Man, Cap gets called away for a big fight and tells Spider-Man not to come along. Spider-Man wanting to help out follows Cap anyway. And now we’re all up to speed.

In Detail...

Ultimate Spider-Man #157
Aug 2011 : SM Title
Writer:  Brian Michael Bendis
Pencils:  Mark Bagley
Inker:  Andy Lanning
Cover Art:  Justin Ponsor, Mark Bagley
Lettering:  VC's Cory Petit
Colorist:  Justin Ponsor
Executive Producer:  Alan Fine
Publisher:  Dan Buckley
Chief Creative Officer:  Joe Queseda
Editor In Chief:  Axel Alonso
Senior Editor:  Mark Paniccia
Assistant Editor:  Sana Amanat
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Review

Swinging away from the Queensborough Bridge where the Ultimates are having an epic battle, Spider-Man is agonizing over whether to stop and help out or to leave to go make sure that his family and friends are safe from Norman Osborn, who has just recently escaped from a S.H.I.E.L.D. prison. Seeing as how he is currently swinging away from the Ultimates fight Spider-Man’s mind is already made up.

Osborn, Dr. Octopus, Kraven, the Vulture, Electro and the Sandman are laying low in a random, empty New York apartment after their escape from S.H.I.E.L.D. while they watch on the news a report of what’s going on with the Ultimates. Kraven mentions that they should use this time while the Ultimates are busy to escape New York, but Norman has other plans. He wants to stay in New York but not everyone agrees with him. Dr. Octopus tells Norman that he’s out. He thanks him for breaking him out but that he just isn’t interested in being a super villain anymore. Otto just wants to get out of the country so that he can get back to being a scientist and to continue his work. He mentions that they shouldn’t kill Peter Parker: that they shouldn’t see Spider-Man as their greatest enemy but as their greatest achievement. It was their work that gave Peter Parker his powers. Norman is furious at this and in his rage he transforms into the Goblin and smacks Dr. Octopus out of the window to the street below where they continue their fight. The other four super villains can just look on as they know that S.H.I.E.L.D. will soon take them all down now that Otto and Norman are using their powers making them traceable.

At Queens, while Aunt May and Gwen are watching the home shoppers network and ordering things for themselves, Spider-Man comes in and tells them to grab anything they need, get in the car and leave the city as fast as they can. He then explains to them that Norman is alive and he and a bunch of Spider-Man’s worst enemies know who Spider-Man really is and where he lives. Aunt May wants Peter to come with them but he tells her he has to stay and help however he can. With a hug from both of the women they leave and Spider-Man swings away.

The Goblin and Dr. Octopus are still fighting down on the streets. Osborn is still furious that one, Otto wants to bail out on him after everything he has done for Otto and two, Osborn believes it was all his doing that lead to the creation of Spider-Man. This rage causes him to really lay into Dr. Octopus smashing his mechanically arms into so much chunks of metal bits and pummeling the defenseless Otto in the face. The Goblin stands over him, arms raised triumphant.

Spider-Man, after just leaving his home in Queens, gets a call from MJ (again) telling him she just watched the Goblin kill Dr. Octopus in midtown on her television. Spider-Man makes his way there to see the remains of Otto Octavius. He asks the nearby witnesses where the two combatants came from and they all point up to the apartment building where the villains were hiding (for all of 5 minutes). Inside it is completely empty and the television has been left on the news channel covering the Ultimates fight on the Queensborough Bridge. Hearing the police make their way through the halls Spider-Man leaves before they can blame what has happened on him.

At the Queensborough Bridge Spider-Man swings in and notices a gunman (the Punisher) up on the scaffolding aiming down at Captain America, who is standing over Nick Fury. Spider-Man tries to fire a web line up at the Punisher but just misses hitting the scaffolding right in front of the Punisher instead. With all his might Spider-Man swings down and, amazingly, knocks Captain America out of the way and takes the bullet for him, entering his back near his left kidney and passing right through him.

In General...

After getting a call from MJ letting him know that Norman Osborn is still alive and along with a bunch of other super villains is probably going to come calling on the Parker home, Spider-Man rushes back to Queens in order to make sure Gwen and Aunt May are safe. At home he finds that they are fine and gets them both to get in the car and get out of the city.

After another call from MJ this time telling him that she has watched a news report about the Goblin and Dr. Octopus fighting each other in the city and that the Goblin eventually killed Dr. Octopus. Spider-Man rushes to the scene to find the remains of Octavius but no Goblin. He asks around and the eye-witnesses point him in the direction of the apartment that the fight started from. Inside Spider-Man finds that the TV has been left on the news channel covering the Ultimates fight at the Queensborough Bridge so he decides to head there.

Once at the bridge Spider-Man notices the Punisher up in the scaffolding about to assassinate Captain America down on the bridge below. He swings in, knocks Cap out of the way and takes the bullet that was meant for Cap in his back.

Overall Rating...

The action is really ramping up in this storyline but I couldn’t get past the use of the News letting everyone know what’s going on and Mary Jane continuously calling Peter to let him know something is going on in the city that needs his attention when he can’t get to a television to watch the news himself. One time is good but it’s getting old that this is the only way that the story can move forward; with MJ playing Oracle and the News channel letting both superhero and super villains know where they should currently be.

Since I don’t read the Ultimates comic book I’m really left in the dark about what is actually taking place at the Queensborough Bridge and why it is at all important. It is barely mentioned here but it seems like such an important storyline. We’re told that the Ultimates are in a big battle at the Bridge but we’re not told with who and why. When Spider-Man finally shows up at the scene we see Captain America standing over a fallen Nick Fury and the Punisher about to shoot and kill Cap. What the hell has been happening here. I suppose this is a way to get people to pick up the Ultimates book, but I remember a time when a comic book editor would add a little text box letting the readers know something that is happening in another book that they might not be reading. Here it just comes off as, “hey, you don’t read that other book – that’s your problem.”

The cliffhanger at the end really makes up for some sore spots in the comic and the fight and resulting death of Dr. Octopus by the Goblin also adds a big dose of drama and action to the book.