Comic Review – “Ultimate Spider-Man Vol. 5: Public Scrutiny”

Well, my copy arrived two weeks late, but it was worth the wait.

General Information

Title: Ultimate Spider-Man Vol. 5: Public Scrutiny
Author: Brian Michael Bendis
Illustrator(s): Mark Bagley
Original Publication Date: 2003 reprint of material first published
ISBN: 0-7851-1087-9
Cover Price: $11.99 US, $19.25 Can
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As far as the general public is concerned, Spider-Man has turned
criminal. It reprints issues 28-32 of the comic.

High Point

There are a few great moments, and great ideas. The best is probably
the complete left turn that I never saw coming with Captain Stacy.
Close runner-ups are the entire Rhino issue, the growing feeling of
being part of a more complete universe, the care and assistance from
sources who won’t expend resources without good reason, and the
realistic portrayal of the psychological impact this kind of life
would have on people.

Low Point

The identity of the imposter was something of a let-down. I sincerely
hope he reappears and gets developed into a character that can redeem
this appearance.

The Scores

Once again, Bendis manages to retell old stories in a way that feels
original. I recognize the basis for some of these moments
from the Essential volumes I’ve read, but most of the time, they were
only visible in retrospect. Bendis has mixed in a healthy dose of new
stuff (like the imposter villain; I was expecting Ultimate Chameleon)
to make it feel alive. I give it 5 out of 6.

The artwork is good, but not quite as good as the previous
volumes. It looks like Bendis can handle the increased work schedule
(as this title moves to 18 issues a year) but Bagley’s work seems to
be slipping a bit. I give it 5 out of 6.

The story was well done. The first issue is really more of a
one-shot than a part of the story, but it’s well done. The last four
issues in the set are well crafted and easily blend together. The
only gripe was that the villain needed more work. (Where in blazes
did he get the web-shooters?) I give it 5 out of 6.

The characterization is excellent. We learn more about
everybody; Peter, Aunt May, MJ, MJ’s parents, Gwen, Gwen’s parents,
even some of the Bugle staff. We’ve even got insight into the Wasp!
I give it 6 out of 6.

The emotional response this produced was excellent. I
laughed through a lot of the Rhino issue, particularly at its
conclusion. The rest of the set wasn’t really played for laughs, but
it had several moments that kept me right in the pages. The ending
was a partial let-down, though, so I can’t justify a perfect score. I
give it 5 out of 6.

The flow was better than usual, primarily because there was
so little fighting going on. It just felt like a hectic couple of
days. I give it 6 out of 6.

Overall, it’s another example of excellent work by the best
team in Marvel’s Ultimate lineup. I give it 5 out of 6.

In total, Ultimate Spider-Man Vol. 5: Public Scrutiny
receives 37 out of 42.