Friday, 15 October 2010

Review - Ultimate Spider-Man Vol.21: War of the Symbiotes TPB

‘War of the Symbiotes’ collects Ultimate Spider-Man issues 123-128 by Brian Michael Bendis and Stuart Immonen. I don’t own any of the previous volumes in this series but I have read them all. The stories are not always that great but Bendis writes a good Peter Parker and they are usually fairly enjoyable reads, at least, even if they aren’t exactly the sort of thing that I want to keep on my bookshelves forever.

Unfortunately, this is one of those Ultimate Spider-man books where the story is not that great at all. This usually doesn’t matter because Bendis’ witty dialogue and strong characterisation often make up for what the story lacks. However, this volume is big on action and low on witty dialogue, which meant that the weaknesses in Bendis’ writing seemed more prominent. A lot of the time in this book, Bendis’ dialogue was just a bit annoying, which is what I often find when I try to read one of his Avengers titles these days. My main problem with this volume, though, is that the villain is Ultimate Venom. I was not reading many superhero comics at the time the original Venom first arrived on the scene (the late-1980s) and have read very few comics featuring the character since, so I have no interest in the Ultimate version at all. The same goes for Silver Sable (actually, I don’t think I have ever read a comic with her in it before) whose Ultimate version also appears in this book.

We also get the return of the Ultimate Gwen Stacy, who was killed by Ultimate Carnage a few books back and has now returned from the dead as the new Ultimate Carnage. I remember thinking that it was a shame when they killed her off, so I’m not that bothered that they brought Gwen back, but the fact that they brought her back as Carnage, a character I know less about and care less about than I do Venom, just compounded the lack of excitement I felt reading this book. We do get a guest appearance by the Ultimates, which is fine, but most of this book is just action, featuring some characters I care little about, and it makes for a very quick, forgettable read.

On the plus side, the art is very nice. Stuart Immonen is a much better artist than previous USM artist Mark Bagley. Bagley’s art did grow on me after a while, but I didn’t like it at all when I started reading the title and it was always a bit too 1990s for my tastes. Immonen, though, has a nice modern style and does some really good work here. I thought the scenes of Spidey swinging through the city in #127 were particularly good.

Under normal circumstances, I would come back for the next book anyway, as, based on past experience with this title, the next book could quite easily turn out to be a good one. However, the volume after this is the one that tied in to the Ultimatum event, in which Jeph Loeb ruined the Ultimate universe forever, so I think I might give that one a miss.

Cost: This didn’t cost me a penny – Paul gave it to me (although I did give him some stuff, too, so I suppose it did end up costing a few quid but don’t ask me how much).


  1. It was a gift, although I think you felt uncomfortable with this and sent me a copy of Planet Hulk.

  2. Which I appreciated and enjoyed incedentally, thank you very much.

  3. My pleasure. Sorry for moaning so much about the Spider-Man book, which I also appreciated.