Comics : Ultimate Spider-Man #16
Monsieur Bendis has clearly decided to see how long he can run Marvel's flagship Super-Hero without actually having him confront any Super-Villains. The last time Peter actually battled a villain of any note was when he went up against Electro and The Enforcers in Issues 11/12.
Since then, Otto Octavius has completed his transformation into Doc Ock, and this issue we are soon to meet Kraven The Hunter. We've also had Peter and MJ getting it on, plus the introductions of Gwen Stacy and Captain Stacy, plus Justin Hammer, and introduction of S.H.I.E.L.D. Whew. Whatta a lot of character development!
Ultimate Spider-Man #16
Feb 2002 : SM Title
Reprinted In: Komikai Ultimate Spider-Man (Promo Reprint) #16
Reprinted In: Spider-Man TPB (Ultimate) #3
Reprinted In: Ultimate Spider-Man Reprints (Hardcover) #2
Reprinted In: Ultimate Tales Flip Magazine #9
We start with Otto soliliquising. For those among you without classical training, that means "talking to himself". 'Cept he ain't talking to himself. He's talking to a portrait of a guy we haven't met yet. An old guy. Seems that Otto was on the take, industrial espionage, selling Osborn's secrets. Otto believes that his former funders decided to knock him off when his usefulness began to fade.
Problem is, he has amnesia; he can't remember what he was working on at Osborn's place. In fact, it's all a bit of a blur. He knows that S.H.I.E.L.D. took him in when he almost died, but that's about it. OF course, he's supposedly dead, and he's a murderer on the run. And he has come to Hammer Towers, the office of the man slipping him the cash under the table. He has come to deliver revenge, but nobody is home to receive it.
For clarity's sake, let's point out that the man buying Osborn's secrets was Mr. (Justin) Hammer. Ock wrecks Mr. Hammer's place, and steals some stuff that takes his eye.
Cut to Kraven on TV. Kraven "The Aussie" Hunter. Yep, Kraven is a fair dinkum Okker bloke, a hit with the Sheilas, and doubtless never short of a croc for the barbie. Think of a dark-haired "Crocodile Dundee", and add a goatee. Well, so much for the Russian heritage! Anyhow, Kraven is the darling of the TV ratings, and he's heading to the U.S. for a working holiday.
As for the good guys? Well, Peter and Ben Urich are at The Bugle. Ben is trying to track down the Octavius story, by calling Captain Stacy and telling him about the latest happenings. Doesn't sound like journalism to me, I thought you were supposed to find stuff out and then sell the story, not tell the cops everything you know half-way through. Anyhow, Cap'n Stacy ain't interested. He's got problems with Gwen, who pulled a knife out at school.
Meanwhile, S.H.I.E.L.D. is interviewing Mr. Hammer at Hammer Towers, and Spidey, having heard Ben talking to Stacy Senior, heads over in time to eavesdrop. He hears the latest news on Ock, but then gets rumbled and has to leave in a hurry.
And finally... Kraven reaches the shores of the States, and announces that he's come to hunt Spiders!
Lotsa new stuff. Lotsa characters, all running around. Bendis is quite good at that murky pottering around and setting things up... but it works best in a dark, brooding environment, where you can get the full sense of menace. Ultimate Spidey is too colorful and hip to really build up the atmosphere for this sort of story.
We've seen Bendis on Daredevil, Elektra, and even in Ultimate Team-Up with Punisher, and he has made this sort of approach work wonderfully - but for me, he just isn't hitting the high notes this time around.
Of course, it's all still good, and the slick Bagley/Thibert artwork is flawless as ever. But it just isn't quite making the magic happen. Not yet anyhow. I wonder how readership is going on Ultimate?
All the right ingredients, but no explosions... yet.