Comics : Ultimate Spider-Man Annual #2

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This review was first published on: 2006.

Background...

After a major gang-war which brought Moon Knight, Elektra, Spider-Man, Iron Fist, Shang-Chi and others into a massive conflict, Spider-Man has an ally in Captain Jean DeWolfe in the fight against organized crime... not knowing she's a double agent for Wilson Fisk, the Kingpin.

In Detail...

Ultimate Spider-Man Annual #2
Oct 2006 : SM Title
Summary: Daredevil, Punisher, Moon Knight
Editor:  Ralph Macchio
Writer:  Brian Michael Bendis
Pencils:  Mark Brooks
Inker:  Jaime Mendoza, Mark Brooks, Mark Morales, Victor Olazaba
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 Reprinted In: Ultimate Spider-Man Reprints (Hardcover) #8

Captain DeWolfe shows up at the hospital when there's a change in Moon Knight's condition, only to discover that he's woken up and disappeared.

Spider-Man takes out the Shocker yet again, and as he makes a quip about always having to pick up Shocker and web him up, Foggy Nelson advises him to go to the police and bring charges against the Shocker.

As a man in a Speedball costume is cuffed and taken away by a police officer, Spider-Man arrives at the station with the Shocker webbed up and delivered. DeWolfe gets the officers to put down their guns, and speaks to Spider-Man on the roof about a new crime boss who's making waves, but she can't touch as he hasn't done anything officially yet. She advises him about this man, the "Kangaroo", and Spider-Man takes off to take a look and if he sees him doing anything wrong, take him down. After Spider-Man leaves, DeWolfe calls Kingpin and tells him about sending Spider-Man after the Kangaroo, before setting up a future rendezvous.

Spider-Man sees a fight break out, and enters in only to see Daredevil beating up on the Kangaroo. Daredevil throws Spider-Man out of the fight, and flashes back to how he got the information about the Kangaroo in the first place. As Spider-Man tries to web up the offending parties, Daredevil senses the Punisher on a rooftop as Peter reacts to him with his spider-sense. As the Punisher fires into the bar, he flashes bakc to how he got out of prison, and ended up on top of the building and firing down at Kangaroo, Daredevil and Spider-Man.

Suddenly, Moon Knight shows up and tries to take down the Punisher, as Spider-Man scrambles up the building. Moon Knight flashbacks to when he woke up from his coma, and another insight into his inner workings as he returns to his hideout and gets his costume, prior to taking on the Punisher. As Punisher, Moon Knight and Spider-Man all fight on the rooftop, Daredevil takes out the Kangaroo. Kangaroo flashes back to a day before, when he was confronted by the Kingpin. In the present, Kangaroo gets thrown out of the bar window. The police arrive and take in Kangaroo, as Spider-Man tries to web up Punisher and Moon Knight. As Captain DeWolfe cuffs Kangaroo, Punisher manages to get a shot off, and shoots DeWolfe through the chest, killing her.

Spider-Man attacks Punisher mercilessly, as he reveals that DeWolfe was a dirty cop, which Daredevil then confirms. Spider-Man takes off as the police arrest Punisher, and Daredevil follows Moon Knight home. Daredevil tells Moon Knight that they should band together as a more cohesive unit, to fight types like the Kingpin. While they think Kingpin is laughing up on high, he's hurt by the loss of DeWolfe after her assassination.

In General...

This is the first Ultimate annual to come out this summer, and although it's definitely of fairly high quality, and enjoyable on the whole, it just doesn't feel as important or as integral as last year's annual. Last year's annual was heavy on characterization and character development, and although it seems as if this issue was supposed to do a bit of the same for a variety of different guest stars, it never seems to really be effective and work nearly as well as last year's annual.

This issue felt like there was too much crammed in, and as a result there was a lot of half-explained moments and ideas which didn't get to reach their full potential. The Captain DeWolfe angle could really have been utilized more fully, but instead felt almost wasted. There felt like there was no real reason for Moon Night or Punisher to even show up, and, by the end, it felt like a smorgasboard of smaller, wasted moments which ultimately didn't add up to really mean anything. Even Spider-Man felt like a bystander in the issue, not really doing anything or adding anything, just going along with the flow and seemingly having no backbone or individual traits at all, and even the jokes seemed phoned in. The writing by Bendis was still decent, but not up to his usually fairly high par, and the plot and scripting did leave a fair bit to be desired.

The art by Brooks was good, although not as good as last year's annual. His depiction of the Punisher in particular I found jarring and almost juvenile, although he really managed to illustrate a great Daredevil, and the art really went along nicely with Bendis' depiction of Daredevil in his script.

Overall Rating...

The issue felt a little rushed and muddled, mostly because of all the different characters which were jammed into it. The ending could have meant more, but instead wasn't given the time it needed to really have an impact, and ultimately felt a tad wasted. Not a great start for the annuals this year, as it was okay but couldn't rise above that level.