Comics : Ultimate Spider-Man #158

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This review was first published on: Jul 2011.

Background...

Norman Osborn along with Dr. Octopus, the Vulture, Kraven, Electro and the Sandman have broken out of a S.H.I.E.L.D. containment facility but before they can find and deal with Spider-Man, the Green Goblin and Dr. Octopus get into a fight that results in Dr. Octopus’ death. After learning about the escape Spider-Man rushes home to warn everyone there and then he heads to the Queensborough Bridge to help out the Ultimates, who are having a pretty big battle there. Spider-Man manages to save Captain America’s life by knocking him out of the line of fire from the Punisher and in doing so manages to take the bullet himself.

In Detail...

Ultimate Spider-Man #158
Sep 2011 : SM Title
Writer:  Brian Michael Bendis
Pencils:  Mark Bagley
Inker:  Andy Lanning
Cover Art:  Andy Lanning, Justin Ponsor, Mark Bagley
Lettering:  VC's Joe Sabino
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

The Vulture, Kraven, the Sandman, Electro and Norman Osborn have shown up at the Tinkerer’s laboratory for some upgrades, the Vulture in particular. The Tinkerer gives them crap about not paying him from before but then Osborn transforms into the Goblin. Not so much scared for himself but for his equipment, the Tinkerer backs down, telling the Vulture to take his new suit. It won’t fit on anyone else anyway and the only way he’s getting any money is if they get back into the game. Kraven and possibly everyone else use this opportunity to open up a tab and procure some new armaments, which doesn’t make the Tinkerer too thrilled.

On the Queensborough Bridge Spider-Man, cursing the genetically altered spider that bit him and gave him his powers, pulls himself up off the ground after having been shot saving Captain America, who appears to be nowhere in sight. Actually no one is there except for Spider-Man, which really bums him out that the Ultimates and Nick Fury would just leave him there bleeding to death. Getting to his feet he tells himself after he gets to the hospital that this is it for him.

Spider-Man thinks that if he shows up to the hospital with a gunshot wound that by morning everyone will know that Peter Parker is really Spider-Man. And if everyone knows who he really is then he can’t continue to be Spider-Man any longer. As he webs up his wound to stop the bleeding he looks up and sees the Green Goblin and company go flying by. Realizing what must be done he swings after them.

Walking back to Peter’s house, Johnny Storm and Bobby Drake are talking after their double date. Actually Bobby is more complaining, saying that it sucks that they are living such normal lives as nobodies. That if they could just be who they really are, the Human Torch and Iceman, that their lives would be so much better. Johnny tells Bobby that the only reason he is so upset right now is because he struck out on this date and Bobby completely agrees with him. If everyone knew he was really Iceman everyone would be treating him like a rock star and not like a nobody who can’t get a girl.

Inside the house they find that it is deserted and they also find a cryptic note left by Gwen telling them to leave and go somewhere safe. Bobby says how weird this is and that shouldn’t Peter’s house be a safe place, but Johnny reminds him that just seconds ago he was complaining about how normal their lives are now. Opening the front door they come face-to-face with the escaped villains. Their lives are about to get much more exciting.

The villains want Peter Parker but Johnny and Bobby are not backing down. Once Johnny recognizes Norman Osborn he turns on his flames and Osborn goblins out. The two start fighting and Johnny really holds his own against the Goblin, knocking him out, until the Sandman jumps in and puts Johnny’s flames out by engulfing him in sand. Iceman then enters the fray but he’s on his own because every time Johnny gets his bearings the Sandman slams into him again. Electro then focuses on Iceman and electrocutes him.

Standing rather heroically out in the street is Spider-Man who has just arrived in the nick of time. The Vulture gets sent into a rage by the sight of Spider-Man and flies directly at him but a quick web to the face and Spider-Man then sends him soaring over the roofline. With the Goblin down from Johnny and the Vulture dealt with, Kraven, Electro and the Sandman look on astonished at a now unmasked Spider-Man asking them who is next.

In General...

The now five super villains pay the Tinkerer an unexpected visit so that the Vulture can get a new flying suit. While there Kraven gets a few upgrades as well. With new weapons they now make their way to Peter Parker’s house in Queens.

While traveling there they manage to fly over a wounded Spider-Man who just moments ago was unconscious from the gunshot wound that was suppose to be for Captain America if not for Spider-Man’s daring act of bravery. If they just looked down they could have seen him, but no. On the ground Spider-Man was thinking of heading to the hospital to get himself patched up and maybe putting away the superhero tights for good, but thankfully for us (if not for himself) he sees the villains fly by over head and decides a better course of action would be to follow them.

Because of his gunshot wound, the villains arrive at Peter’s house before he can catch up and there they meet up with Johnny Storm and Bobby Drake who turn into their alter egos to take on the villains. Johnny manages to take out the Green Goblin all on his own but the Sandman using his sand powers is too much for the Human Torch, and Electro is the perfect weapon against Bobby’s powers.

Just then Spider-Man arrives and quickly deals with the Vulture before turning his attention on Electro, Kraven and the Sandman, the only villains now still standing.

Overall Rating...

I really don’t understand why Marvel can’t get the covers to these comics sorted out by now. This is such a trend with this book with the cover just not matching what’s going on inside. At first I was excited to see the Green Goblin, Kraven, the Sandman, Electro, the Vulture and Dr. Octopus on the cover fighting with Spider-Man because that seemed at least close to what was going to happen; oh wait, Dr. Octopus died last issue so why is he now on the cover of this one? The only thing I can think of is that the covers are created and finished long before the actual comic is done so that Marvel has an image to use on their web site and in the Previews catalog that is used to order comics coming out in a couple of months. Whatever the reason is just feels lazy and unprofessional.

Why, towards the end of the comic, does Spider-Man all of a sudden not have his mask on anymore to fight the remaining escaped villains right outside his house so that any neighbor who happens to look outside to see what all the noise is from will see who he really is? When Spider-Man started to follow the bad-guys he still had his mask on. Then when he finally catches up to them – no mask. What happened during his chase did we not see? Who knows; maybe we’re supposed to use our imaginations to fill in the blanks that the story is leaving out.

I know a bunch of my reviews lately have been a touch on the negative side but this book has so much potential to be great because I remember reading it when it was great and I can still see the greatest that is there, its just these little inconsistencies that drive a great book down to just a good book.