Review by Frank Plowright
This the final volume, at least to date, where readers can choose between the hardcover Ultimate Spider-Man collections, or the bulky paperback Ultimate Collections, which seem to have stalled in 2017. From here on the choice is the hardcover combining what are two slimmer paperbacks, in this case Hobgoblin and Warriors.
The first, and longest of those stories features the return of Harry Osborn, deemed by Nick Fury not to require any further psychiatric observation. It’s no great spoiler to reveal that’s a poor diagnosis, and Brian Michael Bendis is on great form here, establishing that Harry’s had so much hypnotherapy he has no idea which of his memories are actually the truth. This doesn’t prevent him being deceitful and manipulative, as we discover early when he lies to Mary Jane Watson and to Peter Parker. It’s an interesting route to take, as we’re so used to knowing when people are lying because it’s usually given away to the audience on TV. Seeing it here, static, is surprising. That’s not the biggest surprise, however, which occurs a fair way into the story. Jaws will drop as readers realise how Bendis has pulled one over on them. The fear all the way through is that Harry will use his father’s formula and transform into a goblin creature. Will that happen? Let’s just say Harry’s story ends here with a spectacular action sequence, despite Peter’s decision that he’s no longer going to be Spider-Man.
That action, of course is down to Mark Bagley, as proficient with two super-powered people knocking seven shades of hell out of each other as he is with the civilian scenes of Peter and his school friends. There’s a pleasant naturalism to these, and they’re emotionally intuitive and attractive. There’s more of it over a Mary Jane solo chapter, not Bendis’ best moment, and on the following story, which has less to do with the supporting cast, but offers Bagley the opportunity to lay out some spectacular action scenes. As with so much of his art, it’s all in service to the story, so the effort he makes can pass us by.
The reason for more action scenes is the multitude of guest superheroes looking to take down the Kingpin. We’ve already seen the Black Cat, but the others aren’t that far removed from their main Marvel universe counterparts, just younger, which makes Spider-Man more at home in their company. There’ll be a reprise a couple of volumes down the line, but this is a satisfying crime story also featuring Hammerhead, and after the way he’s usually treated, it’s nice to see Spider-Man finally have a friend on the police force.