Ultimate Spider-Man #85


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Ultimate Spider-Man #85


  • Words: Brian Michael Bendis
  • Art: Mark Bagley
  • Inks: Scott Hanna
  • Colors: J.D. Smith
  • Story Title: Warriors- Part 7 of 7
  • Publisher: Marvel Comics
  • Price: $2.50
  • Release Date: Nov 2, 2005

The star-studded, action-packed "Warriors" arc concludes with more than its share of surprises.

This arc sounded good from the start. We were promised an introduction to the Ultimate version of Moon Knight! Then Shang-Chi and Iron Fist rose from the embers of Ultimate Marvel Team-Up and Ultimate Spider-Man #½ (respectively)! Then Black Cat returned from the dead! Then Elektra returned! And to top it all off, Hammerhead emerged as a legitimate threat to the Kingpin’s criminal empire! So many exclamation points in one tiny paragraph because this story was just that darn good!

Hammerhead…the name is appropriate for so many reasons. Seriously, these criminal "masterminds" never learn do they? Even the best laid plans for taking down the Kingpin never work. He’s too powerful, he’s everywhere and owns or influences just about every life in New York City--he’s like the Bill Gates of crime, only chubbier. So why Hammerhead thinks he can go around shooting a few people, crushing a few heads, employing the likes of the Enforcers and STILL be more than a temporary annoyance to the big man is a real mystery. Of course, Black Cat has a score to settle with Mr. Fisk, and Moon Knight is a wild card of sorts, so that at least levels the playing field a bit. Especially if Spider-Man isn’t willing to let any of these psychos get away with killing each other…if he can escape the NYPD to do something about it that is.

Ultimate Spider-Man has always been a solid book, but even with all the deaths and betrayals and new characters there hasn’t been a storyline this thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish since "Learning Curve" (#8 thru #13). Not coincidentally, that was the first time Bendis gave us Ultimate Wilson Fisk, a.k.a. Kingpin. Bendis may be well known for superhero writing these days, but all his current success is rooted in the mid to late 1990s when he was primarily writing independent crime comics. Though he writes some of the snappiest Spider-Man comedy dialogue to be found (both here and in New Avengers) those roots shine through most clearly during heavily crime-based arcs such as "Warriors". There is a take-no-prisoners mentality that dominates the storytelling, and lends a great deal of credence to each and every brutal beating, surprising murder and controversial betrayal. By the way, this very issue has at least one of each of these horrible yet fascinating acts (well, honestly, is anyone ever dead-dead?), and it breaks the potential for future acts wide open.

The name Mark Bagley is now synonymous with Marvel Comics, quality and especially the Spider-Man character gallery. It’s almost supernatural how much work the guy does in such a small timeframe. Not only that, but he doesn’t miss a beat--I don’t think Ultimate Spider-Man has gone past its monthly solicitation once in eighty-five issues, and during much of that time Bags was contributing to more than one book per month. There are writers that have difficulty keeping that schedule (and they know who they are!). Now, pile on the fact that he can mix subtle emotion and kinetic action in the same panel, and you get an artist who could never be paid enough. If there is a flaw in the art, it normally can be attributed to Hanna going a little heavy with the inks or Smith taking the colors a little too dark…even for a crime story. Most of the time, though, the art is just as much of a treat as the writing.

Eighty-five issues strong now and the team of Brian Bendis and Mark Bagley are putting out some of their best work yet on this title. Ultimate Spider-Man feels familiar only because of the characters, but the stories are some of the best ol’ Web-head has been a part of for decades.

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