From what I read the main reason the Ultimate line is relaunching is so that the titles - Ultimate versions of Spider-Man, X-Men, Fantastic Four and Avengers/Ultimates - could reference each other more easily. One of Bendis' comments was that he couldn't reference or react to anything happening over in any of the other titles, in USM, because their schedules were different, and by the time he could get around to it, it was too late. I don't know, I kinda liked that Spider-Man was unique that way. What happened in Ultimate Spider-Man was pretty much what happened to Peter Parker and Spider-Man. It was Peter's universe. There were only a couple of instances that Reed, Johnny, the Ultimate Fantastic Four or Logan, Kitty and the Ultimate X-Men came calling in USM and it always seemed to be on Peter's terms. I liked that.
It seemed pretty natural. Like it was part of a story that Bendis was working around Peter and just happened to branch out or spin out and include other characters. For the longest time - at least for me - Ultimate Spider-Man was an oasis from the madness that was consuming all the rest of the comic book universes. It was very much like what James Robinson had done a few years before in Starman. That sentence right there may sound a bit obsessive of my passion for that title, character and writer; but what he's doing now with Superman is so much more mainstream than the small corner fo the DCU he carved out over in Opal City. Bendis pretty much managed to do the ame thing in Queens with Peter Parker. And life was good.
What concerns me about this new re-tooling and relaunch is that it'll be much more mainstream and much easier to not only reference what's going on in the other Ultimate titles, but develop crossovers. That was what I liked getting away from in USM. There wasn't an annual event going on in. Just good, solid storytelling. Like I said, it was an oasis, and I enjoyed it. Now, there's a risk that the Ultimate titles will all be tied together with Spider-Man over in X-Men, Fantastic Four and Ultimates/Avengers. Not that there's anything wrong with that. It just seems that after awhile it becomes less and less about the story and more about product placement and selling books.
Whether you and I like it or not, Marvel, DC, Bendis, Robinson, Johns - you name any one of them - they are all about selling stories as much as they are about telling stories. If you are a creator, you are, too. You have to be, otherwise you're me, just writing a 'blog for kicks.
Another part of the announcement, was that Peter Parker might not be Ultimate Spider-Man anymore. And the only way to find out is to pick up Volume 2, starting in July. Bendis has introduced a bunch of cool characters in USM. His version of the Clone Saga was pretty good, and I had never read the original Clone Saga. It was nice to see something happen that just seemed to be well-planned and laid out - again, like what Robinson did over 80 issues and something like five years in Starman. There really wasn't a whole lot of waste or fluff. USM wasn't going from one issue to another by the seat of it's pants like most titles. Somthing happens and then something else happens and then something more else happens. It looked fresh and original - even thought it might have only been re-imagining storylines from over forty plus years of Amazing Spider-man - but, when you look back over each issue you see that each issue was just a single pixel or brush stroke that made up a larger picture.
Well, it looks like all of that is coming to an end. I gotta say that this Ultimatum crossover is kinda lame. But, see, I'm seeing it through the lense of Ultimate Spider-Man. I picked up the first issue of Ultimate X-Men, and it just didn't do anything. Of course there are about a dozen different X-Men books out there, so there you go...For me, there really didn't seem to be anything unique about it going in. If you loved it, God bless you. There are folks that hate Bendis and hate USM - and I appreciate that. I liked Ultimate Fantastic Four for awhile, unitl my wallet stopped liking the cover price. The Ultimates was good. I didn't really like where The Hulk or Hank Pym were going. But, hey, y'know different strokes for different folks. USM worked for me.
Now, I have to decide if I'm going to stick with Volume 2 or not. The economy, cover price, change in focus. What will be relevent and compelling about it anymore? Probably be easier to guess at the stock market...
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