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Comic Review:
Ultimate Spider-Man #34, 35
By Matt Martin


Marvel Comics Ė Brian Michael Bendis (w); Mark Bagley (p); Art Thibert (i)

Much is made of Bendis by both the print and online media. Much of what is said about him, I think, is little more than fluff and hyperbole. The man hasnít had a long enough career yet to go proclaiming him as the Second Coming of comicdomís Messiah. However, if the man can be called a genius, I think that this particular story arc of Ultimate Spider-Man provides the most convincing argument for doing so. Simply put, heís done what I had previously considered to be the impossible: heís made Venom interesting.

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And not only interesting, but also downright entertaining. The Ultimate version of Venom isnít tied up in past continuity. Thereís obviously no reference to the Secret Wars (the telltale sign of rough waters ahead if I ever saw one) in his origin and youíre not required to know exactly why it is that Eddie Brock hates Spider-Man. For that matter, youíre not expected to even know who Brock is, since this arc marks his introduction to the Ultimate Universe. At this point in time, there is no such thing as a spawn of the symbiote, making in unlikely that Carnage will rear his head anytime soon. And most importantly, I think, the appearance of Ultimate Venom makes sense, at least from a writerís standpoint.

For a brief moment (basically, #35), it allowed Bendis to sidestep the issue of how the public currently trusts Spider-Man even less after the previous incident in which someone committed a series of robberies using his costume as their disguise. Simple solution: put Spidey in his black costume, a move that draws predictable reactions from the crowds that witness its debut.

However, the sticking point for me so far was wondering how exactly Bendis would rationalize that most ridiculous part of Venomís existence: his illogically twisted facial structure. And even though he hasnít explained how it works, we do have a bit of a why, since the suit is clearly quite criminally insane. Even still, the suitís murderous intent bears out a plot thread that Peterís earlier thoughts began: he feels somehow that the presence of his father, the suitís creator, is imprinted on the suit itself. As the suit knows his thoughts, it lashes out with a vengeance at Benís murderer when Peter finally confronts him.

The scene with Uncle Benís murderer is my only complaint about the arc. I understand that Marvel and Bendis are intentionally keeping Ultimate Spider-Man, and the movie continuity as close as possible. But was making the comic book and movie scene where he catches the killer exactly the same really necessary? It just strikes me as unoriginal, really.

Final Score: 4/5


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