Review by Frank Plowright
Much has changed in the world of Ultimate Spider-Man. Not least is that Peter Parker now shares his house with Iceman and the Human Torch, which, let’s face it, doesn’t sound the best idea, and as Brian Michael Bendis has been great on the series for years, perhaps it was editorially imposed.
It still doesn’t seem like a great idea when another kid in the neighbourhood develops super powers over the first two chapters, although they’re fun, but with the main story Bendis begins introducing the bigger picture, and that’s a thriller. In this world mutants are heavily policed and not allowed to use their powers ever since Magneto sent a tidal wave crashing over New York. Kitty Pryde has been attending Peter’s high school, and the seeds were sown in The New World According to Peter Parker for that to go wrong. Here it does, via a constantly unpredictable plot where Bendis pulls the pieces together beautifully.
Takeshi Miyazawa draws the first story, also very influenced by manga, but his characters don’t look quite as young as those drawn by David Lafuente. Bendis makes a point of dealing with Peter’s ridiculous hairstyle from last time round, but for reasons best left discovered by reading, there’s a particularly predatory Peter Parker in Chameleons, and the very young way the cast look as drawn by Lafuente makes for uncomfortable reading when those scenes occur. It’s something Bendis even comments on in the final chapter.
Much of what happens gives a new perspective on Peter and Spider-Man, as Bendis has him viewed from the outside. It’s a way of reinforcing how amazing and spectacular he is, while also placing him in a terrifying situation. Another old villain is repurposed for the Ultimate universe, and the variation is well conceived. This is a step up from the previous volume, but again dependent on how much Lafuente’s art appeals. The Death of Spider-Man Prelude is next.