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Ultimate Spider-Man: Ultimate Collection, Vol. 1 Paperback – March 28, 2007
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Top Customer Reviews
The art is--once again--exceptional. It is bright and detailed, and very easy to decipher. Motion looks especially impressive. Also, all of the original overs are included, and in their proper places too. Unfortunately, unlike in the previous ultimate collections, no sketches or bonuses are included in the back. Their place was supposedly taken by the special issue, 1/2.
As for the story, there are mainly two. 28-32 is the first, with the second being 33-39. Issue 1/2 stands alone.
In the first story, the villain Rhino is introduced. Regrettably, he's more of a throwaway character, and serves as a plot device--not a true character. He is essentially featured in a cameo. It's a shame he wasn't devoted more time to establish an origin and full story. His character seems to be wasted, in a similar way to how Shocker was just throw in the first ultimate collection--which, by the way, happens again. While it was nice for a villain to return, we still know nothing about him--or Rhino.
The rest of the story revolves around the relationship troubles of Peter and Mary, as well as the occurrence of an impostser Spider-man. The story is okay. It was nice to see insight on Peter's life, but it seemed too exaggerated. The grief between Mary and Peter was pointless and unrealistic--especially since you know they'll be fine in the end. The tension between Mary and Gwen was unnecessary as well. It feels like Gwen's only in the book to make Mary jealous. She has no real purpose beyond that. The good news is that we get some more SHIELD.
The second story is about Venom. Eddie Brock is introduced, but he seems to be a jerk for no real reason. It's a shame, because we never get a chance to like his character. We never get attached, and we don't care if anything bad or unfortunate happens to him. He has no reason to act how he does. Outside of that, there are some nice character moments and interesting developments.
The 1/2 issue was quick, but complete. It showed something typical in a new way.
I liked this collection in general. It expanded the characters and universe of Peter Parker, and Spider-man. However, it did have some obvious faults. I would recommend this book, as long as you liked the first two.
Aside from the price, what makes this trade paperback so good? The creative team of Bendis and Bagley tell the story of a teenage Peter Parker as he learns about the world around him. They've really hit their stride here, capturing the struggles and frustrations that Peter has in a world that frankly doesn't care about him at times. In the first half a thug dresses up as Spider-Man to rob banks, killing a major character. Then [SPOILER] Peter and MJ break up [SPOILER] which leads Peter to find some old videos and a childhood friend, Eddie Brock. The two collaborate on their parents' inheritance, a project to cure cancer which leads to the birth of Venom!
Vol. 3 collects the superhero action in the life of Spider-Man, as well as the melodrama that's at the core of Peter Parker's life. Bendis writes a lot of dialogue, but there are also these panels of Peter by himself, fretting about his life -- and these moments are all the more powerful.
If you're looking for some great Spider-Man stories at an excellent price, look no further: it's right here.
One thing I really like about this book is Spidy's origin. Instead of rushing it in an issue or so, Bendis takes his time, letting the story progress naturally. Peter doesn't become Spider-man overnight, but instead goes through steps that eventually lead him to do so. This makes the story better overall, as you can see plenty of Peter pre-Spidy, instead of just the usual Spider-man Peter. Another benefit is that Uncle Ben's character gets fleshed out a bit, because he is in it for several issues, instead of just one.
Another review mentioned how the pages are so thin that they threaten to tear just by turning them. I want to make it clear that the pages are nowhere near that thin, and at no point did I come close to thinking that one of them would rip. I can easily read on my back without fear of ruining the book. The pages are fine, and you should definitely buy the Ultimate collections instead of the smaller individual volumes. You'll save so much money that way. I must admit, though, that the cover bends a little too easily, but it's a minor problem.
There a bunch of nice bonus sketches in the back of the book, making this purchase even more worthwhile. A lot of comic books will have two or three extras, but this collection has many, and of every character, too. Another thing that is included is all the original covers. Some books leave out the original covers, but here when an issue starts, you will first see its cover. The cover artwork is really nice, even if most of the covers are boring to look at, as they usually just show Spidery in a different position on a wall.
Some people have complained about some of the character re-designs, but I find most of them pretty cool. However, perhaps I am not upset about the new looks because I have not read their original stories, and therefore am not attached to their original designs. Whatever the reason, most characters look appealing, made even better by the great art.
The stories are really interesting, with lots of references to other Marvel characters. There even appears to be homage to DC's "Dark Knight Returns" near the end of issue 4 (look for the lightning). I really like how Bendis makes Peter's life just as interesting as Spider-man's. Also, he makes it pretty funny sometimes.
All in all, I would recommend this book to anyone. It's great place to start and has so much to offer. Even if you prefer the mainstream Spider-man, I'd give it a shot. This collection is just about 5 stars. I'd say 4.9.
Edit: I have since read some of the original Spider-man issues from the '60s. While I'm sure they get better, I found the first dozen to be lacking compared to this modern take. So if you're not sure which one to start with, I find that the Ultimate stories work better, at least initially.