I missed the boat on Ultimate Spider-Man. I'm big enough to admit that. I read, what, maybe the first four or five issues or so, and thought "Eh, that's pretty good, but do I need to be reading Spider-Man for?" Cut to, what, six or seven years later and I've devoured all of the Essential Spider-Man, Essential Peter Parker, and Essential Marvel Team-Up books and - finding the current Spider-books lacking - find myself on the lookout for something to provide those old-school Spider-thrills.
Cue ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #112.
I'd been hiding from this book for awhile now, despite suspecting that I'd like it a lot. The idea of catching up with a book that had 100+ issues of tight continuity and references put me off, and I longed for a good jumping on point. And then, as if by magic, Stuart Immonen appeared.
Here's the funny thing, though; as much as I love Immonen's art, the reason this book was enjoyably Good for me was almost all down to Bendis's writing. Immonen's art, in fact, seemed more static and awkward than usual here, with his Peter Parker in particular seeming kind of off (I think it's his tiny little mouth), although there are still parts that impress (His school hallway crowd scene towards the end of the book, for some reason, sticks with me). Bendis's writing, meanwhile, manages to juggle the so-familiar-that-it's-almost-funny sitcom plot of Peter's school life with the none-more-ominous return of Norman Osborne in such a way that he makes it look easy, and this is a book where the Bendis dialogue tics are a strength rather than schtick - Suddenly Peter is funny again, and the angst is legitimate teen angst, rather than dull, "Is my wife going to die," angst. It's such a whole new world that I feel even more dumb for missing the boat the first time around, until I read all the rumors about the Ultimate universe folding up post-Jeph Loeb's involvement...