Spider-Man is at it again, and this time he brought
friends.

General Information

Title: Ultimate Spider-Man Vol. 12: Superstars

Author: Brian Michael Bendis

Illustrator(s): Mark Bagley

Original Publication Date: Issues 66-71 were
published in late 2004
and early 2005.

ISBN: 0-7851-1629-X

Cover Price: $12.99 US

Buy from: Amazon.com
or Amazon.ca

Past comic reviews can be found here.

Premise

These six issues contain three different stories with
a similar theme:
each is a two issue story featuring some sort of
guest star. We’ve
got two issues with Wolverine (played for laughs),
two with the Human
Torch (focusing on what it means to be a hero), and
two with
Dr. Strange (focusing on the impact being a hero has
had on friends
and relatives).

High Point

The portion with the Human Torch was really good, and
the best of the
set. (That’s issues 68 and 69.)

Low Point

The Dr. Strange portion ended on a serious down note,
after two
entire issues of more angsty stuff than usual. For
some reason, a
depressing ending just doesn’t sit right for me when
it’s at the end
of a cross-over.

The Scores

The originality is uneven. The Wolverine
portion even
comments on how often that plot device has been used.
The Human Torch
portion is good, setting up a nice relationship for
the group.
Finally, the Dr. Strange portion is built around
another overused
device with an ending not unlike others we’ve seen in
this series.
The complete package gets 3 out of 6.

The artwork is Mark Bagley doing Mark
Bagley, just as he did
for the first 65 issues. I give it 5 out of 6.

The stories are uneven. The first is played
for laughs, with
a remarkably forced premise. The second is very
nicely put together,
and the third seems to have Dr. Strange for the sake
of having
Dr. Strange in there to set up some future story,
either in a
miniseries or a story arc in this title. It’s been a
while since I
finished a collection for this title as asked myself
“what’s the
point?,” but it happened here. They work while
they’re running, but
there’s not much left when they’re done. I give it 4
out of 6.



The characterization is again the strong
suit. I’ve raved
about Bendis’ talents in this respect before, but I
need to give kudos
to Bagley on this one. Just look at the facial
expression of Peter
and Wolverine in the first story arc, or at Mary
Jane’s facial
expressions in issue 70, and you’ll see completely
different
personalities being housed behind the same face.
With writing and art
distinguishing characters, I have to give them
considerable credit. I
give it 6 out of 6.

The emotional response was as mixed as most
of the rest.
It’s good for the Wolverine issues, great for the
Human Torch issues,
and mild in the Strange issues, particularly at the
conclusion. I
don’t think I’ve ever read Spider-Man that
depressing, and I’ve read
the death of Gwen Stacy. Both of them. I give it 4
out of 6.

The flow is good within the issues, but it’s
a bit out of
whack in between issues, due in part to the inclusion
of three
different stories. (It’s also due in part to a major
shift between
the two Dr. Strange issues.) I give it 4 out of 6.

Overall, it’s a decent set that’s worth
getting if you’re
collecting the title. If you’re the kind of reader
who gets and issue
or two here and there rather than complete runs, just
stick with
issues 68 and 69. I give it 3 out of 6.

In total, Ultimate Spider-Man Vol. 12:
Superstars
receives 29
out of 42.