Review by Ian Keogh
As the Ultimate Marvel Team-Up series continued, it more obviously became a home for artists who’d not normally work on a superhero title, with Brian Michael Bendis to some extent tailoring his scripts to suit their approach.
This opens with Spider-Man meeting the Ultimate universe versions of the Fantastic Four, except when they were subsequently launched in their own title there were considerable differences. There’s not much variation between this Fantastic Four and the original versions other than they’re being treated as comedy by Bendis and Jim Mahfood. There’s nothing wrong with that, other than it’s not very funny.
Moving on, we have the introduction of the Man-Thing and the Lizard, a narrative largely carried by two written letters and the art of John Totleben. It’s not as tragic as it’s intended to be, although Totleben draws a nice updated version of the Lizard, all humanity absent from the features.
Chynna Clugston-Major’s draws the story that’s closest in tone to the scripts Bendis was producing for the Ultimate Spider-Man series at the time. Cartooning with manga touches suits Peter Parker and his school friends taking a day at the mall and running into the X-Men. It’s a deliberately awkward follow-up to Wolverine meeting Spider-Man in Vol. 1, mainly conversation, and without any costumes, yet a standout chapter.
Having Ted McKeever illustrate Doctor Strange and his world seems such a no-brainer once seen, that it’s surprising it hadn’t happened before. It’s a different Doctor Strange whose world looks unlike any interpretation before, dark and off-kilter, then astonishingly bright, and with a wonderfully distorted Spider-Man thrown into another dimension. Bendis runs the story longer than necessary, but as the result is more mad art from McKeever, that’s just fine.
This is a stronger collection that the lacklustre first outing, and offers some hope for Vol. 3. It’s also worth noting that for some reason Marvel decided to leave out a three chapter Spider-Man team-up with Daredevil when moving from Ultimate Marvel Team-Up Vol. 1 to this collection. Never mind, it’s found in The Best of Spider-Man Volume One, Daredevil by Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev Vol. 3, and the Ultimate Marvel Team-Up Ultimate Collection.