Ultimate Spiderman Review

It’s time for a superhero show that really serves as the definition of what you can expect from one. I feel like if someone ever asked me to name what I think is the title that feels like what you can expect from an average comic book show, I’d have to recommend this one. Justice League is a great Superhero show and Teen Titans Go is a poor one. Ultimate is more of a symbol of what they all strive to be. It’s not great or very good, but it’s not bad or even mediocre. It’s a good show that blends in a lot of action and comedy. All of Marvel’s current shows essentially have the same style to them and Spiderman is what started the trend. At over 100 episodes, I can safely say that the show did all right for itself.

The show’s main premise is that Nick Fury believes Spiderman should be doing something more with his life. Instead of taking out ordinary crooks, he wants him to become the Ultimate Spiderman. Spiderman decides to give this a shot and is placed on a Shield attack squad with White Tiger, Iron Fist, Luke Cage, and Nova. Together, the team has to take on a lot of villains and prove to the world that they are the strongest team out there. Can Spiderman really handle this level of pressure though?

Season 1 is mainly episodic as we get used to the team and see them take on challenges. There are quite a lot of guest stars to keep you interested such as Iron-Man, Hulk, and Doctor Strange. You also start to get a sense of which villains will play a big role as Venom and Doctor Octopus show up numerous times. Octopus can get old fast as his design is just so bad in this version and it doesn’t make for particularly engaging fights. Still, I suppose he makes sense as the big villain since he constantly has a master plan up his sleeve. I wish I could take him seriously but he has to be one of the worst villains in the show.

There aren’t many specific episodes to call out for season 1 as great ones since this was the weakest season. The Iron-Man team up against the Living Laser was pretty fun. The big two part episode with Green Goblin wasn’t bad either and Venom certainly got to appear quite a bit. On the whole I think they dropped the ball with Venom though. His never really gets around to being with Eddie Brock and is instead treated like more of a power up the whole time. Harry puts him on sometimes and then loses him again. Eventually the writers would decide on his roll, but I definitely didn’t miss his Harry days from season 1.

As for the characters, most of them are similar to how they are in the comics so I’ll really focus on the main ones. It’s interesting to see a young version of Luke Cage and Iron Fist. It’s an odd choice since part of Cage’s whole personality is that he’s a gritty guy who’s seen things and makes for a perfect anti hero to hire for a mission. Here he’s just a nice guy who goes to school. Iron Fist doesn’t have to be changed much as he’s just younger but they overplay his formal mannerisms at times. He’s probably the most mature member of the group though. White Tiger is the confident member of the group who always talks a good game, but she doesn’t really have any special abilities (At least for the first 20+ episodes) so it’s a little tough for her to keep up in a fight. Nova is the best member by far. He’s always pranking Spiderman and getting the last laugh in. Of course since he has the Power Cosmic, that is usually used as more plot hax than anything else. He should win every fight, but he just tends to miss every shot. That can be a little annoying.

Season 2 focuses on the Sinister Six. This means…you guessed it, Doctor Octopus is back in his full glory. He has assembled his team of powerful fighters like the Kraven, and Electro. Spiderman must put a stop to these guys while also helping the Lizard not get hurt in the process. He knows that a scientist is effectively trapped within the Lizard, but he’s doing his best to keep it under control. The Rhino is a kid underneath his guise, but the guy can’t seem to make up his mind on whether he wants to be a hero or not so it’s a little hard to help him out.

The Kraven episode may not sound great on paper as it’s just a team up with Spiderman and White Tiger, but it was actually pretty solid. The show did a lot of justice to Kraven as he was actually a real threat and always had good fight scenes in the show. I definitely enjoyed the episode at any rate and White Tiger finally got a big power up. The first Sinister Six episode also came on and it was pretty fun. It was rather rushed though as Spiderman had to beat them all in a single episode.

Then we had the Carnage episode which was fun. Again, I don’t think the Symbiotes were handled all that well and the show should have looked to the 90’s cartoon for inspiration but I suppose it did its best. I gotta give the Stan Lee team up episode a shoutout as well. Who would have thought that Spiderman would be teaming up with the One Above All? There were one liners for days in this episode. For a slightly more serious episode, the Deadpool guest star was fun. It was a little sad that Spiderman’s friends immediately preferred him, but Deadpool is charismatic. He always makes for good humor as well.

Season 3’s big hook is that it adapts the Spider Verse storyline from the comics. A mystical artifact is broken so Spiderman has to go to various universes to find the pieces. He meets up with Ultimate Spiderman, Noir, Spiderham, and other versions of himself along the way. It was a fun multi part epic, but the main problem was that it was incredibly repetitive. Every episode had the exact same format and story telling. It was cool seeing every Spiderman admit that the main one was the best every time, but it didn’t always seem sincere because of how much it was spammed. The show maybe laid it on a little thick that time. Spiderman was definitely a team player in this season as he ended up teaming with the Avengers and then forming his own Warriors group. They definitely kept Parker busy and this led to his original team from season 1 being gradually written out of the show.

The Avengers two part event was fun, but mostly just the second part. The first one didn’t really get to go anywhere since Loki and Spiderman switched bodies. The second at least gave us a fight between the Avengers and Spiderman’s new team. Agent Venom was cool since this was a route I could finally get behind for Venom. I miss his classic Brock form, but I suppose this is the next best thing. It’s just a shame that he got so weak after this. I basically already covered the Spider Verse. It would have been a lot better if not for being so repetitive.

The Crossover with Jessie was interesting since I didn’t even remember that the show existed. On a more epic note, the show adapted the Contest of Champions Mobile Game and that was a lot of fun. Honestly, I wish we could have gotten closer to 10 episode of this as there are so many cool fights you can pull off with this concept. There was quite a bit of plot hax at times and Spiderman did a bad job of picking his teams, but this one really took advantage of how the show loves its guest stars. Spiderman could basically choose from anyone that he’s met so there were a bunch of options. It wasn’t handled quite as well as the Secret Wars from the 90’s show, but it was good nonetheless.

Finally, Season 4 had the return of the Sinister Six. Yeah…the show decided to give them another season. I guess they felt they could do more with them. This last season was certainly the most ambitious though as it had quite a lot of plot lines and multi parters including the return of the Spider Verse. By the end of the show you had certainly gotten used to Spiderman and his friends.

Hydra is usually rather boring, but the opening two parter was good because it saw the debut of the Scarlet Spider and started the ball rolling. Unlike the first 3 seasons, this one had an ongoing plot that would last the entire season. Who is the Scarlet Spider and can they trust him? The Scarlet Spider is a fun character because he’s constantly insulting Spiderman and just generally being a jerk. Yeah, he’s definitely not a nice guy, but he’s not supposed to be one anyway. This is just how he rolls. Of course, it is far too late when they try to get us to feel bad for him. That’s the drawback of being this kind of character and making certain decisions.

The next episode was also pretty solid as Miles is brought into the picture and becomes a main character. The two Spidermen have to team up with Doctor Strange to defeat his version of the Green Goblin and it’s pretty intense. This character is consistently portrayed to be too powerful for the heroes so they have to use a lot of teamwork to keep him down. Miles is a fun enough Spiderman even if he can be a little overconfident despite not usually lasting too long in a fight. His electric abilities really help to give him an edge in a fight and make up for that experience though. He’ll only get better as he keeps on fighting.

The next episodes get pretty intense as the team faces the threat of a traitor in their midst. Agent Venom is put in a wheelchair and Harry falls into a coma. It’s hard to picture any of this happening in the first 3 seasons as it’s actually rather dark and the plot is very serious. The Sinister Six then returns and this time they go after Aunt May along with one of the traitors so Spiderman is forced to get serious about this ordeal. Another character seemingly dies at the end although we know that nobody ever dies in comic land.

We get back to back sagas as The Symbiotes slowly take over the world in one 3 part adventure and then the Spider Verse returns as the guest stars have to unite once more. Both of these events were pretty fun and the extra episodes really let the show cut loose. Even Gwen Stacy’s recent Spider-Gwen form gets to make an appearance. The Spider Slayers 3 part story was cool because Mary Jane finally got powers. She absorbed the Carnage symbiote and became one of the stronger characters in the series. That was definitely a nice upgrade to keep her up to par with the others. Mary Jane had a very small role throughout the series so her fans were glad to see the writers bringing her back in again. After being in season 1, she basically vanished for all of 2 and 3. From here on out, Mary Jane would be a main character although the series only had a few episodes left.

Finally, the Graduation Day 2 parter was a good way to end the series. It may have been embarrassing for everyone else as they were stuck in a bubble and couldn’t break it the whole time, but we had to prove to the world once and for all that Spiderman is the ultimate fighter. Seeing him save everyone is always pretty satisfying. Yeah, as you can tell I was pretty satisfied with season 4 as a whole Honestly, it was a great season and would have gotten a solid 8 if the first 3 didn’t exist. That being said, 3 7 star seasons and 1 8 star season ultimately end up equaling a 7. No matter how great that last season was, it can’t just bring up the curve all on its own.

That’s why it’s a shame that the show didn’t get one more season. Honestly, if the quality had continued to look up like season 4, then this really could have gone down as one of Marvel’s best titles. The ongoing plot had started to get rock solid and this is where the past 100 episodes of situations and characters popping up could have come in handy. With the sheer amount of heroes in the story, the show could have adapted any story arc that it wanted too. I could see the show deciding to tackle the Civil War and it would actually be able to do it justice in this version. It was not to be, but it was a fun glimpse at what the show could have been. Just imagine if all 100+ episodes had been at this level of quality.

One area where the show always excelled was with its animation. It was stylized to look like the iconic 90’s cartoon, but with up to date graphics. It was a little more streamlined and had a dark color scheme that worked well with the night time moments. I’d probably still make the case that the 90’s show ultimately won as its character designs were a step up, but the show definitely delivered in this department. Compared to the other current titles like Guardians of the Galaxy, or the upcoming Spiderman show this is a world of improvement. I would mention Avengers, but the animation for that one got considerably better with Season 2. It’s still a little behind Spiderman, but it’s close enough at this point where I didn’t really need to deliver any burns. There’s unfortunately nothing to say about Ultimate Spiderman’s soundtrack. There’s not a single memorable tune in the entire show.

The current Marvel shows all like to place a big emphasis on comedy. I suppose they just don’t want their shows to get too serious and it helps them gel better with the live action films which use a similar format. That being said, the TV show writers are not necessarily at the same level at times so many of the jokes can be forced. This is Spiderman as well so you can bet that the jokes are constant. They don’t really bother me for the most part, but it does cement the fact that the show won’t be known as an epic one. It can’t quite reach the same level of intensity as Justice League, X-Men, or Avengers EMH as a result. It’s a fun show with a lot of action and cool guest stars, but it never gets past the “Fun” aspect of the show. That means it is relegated to a solid seven, but can’t hit the elusive 8.

That’s not to say that the show didn’t try. As you saw with some of the episodes I hand picked above, it did have some pretty serious ones. The show also had a lot of really good fights that actually had good hand to hand and really solid animation. It’s just that for every great episode I showed above, there were also some really lackluster ones or even downright bad episodes. Some did have crude humor which could be annoying and other episodes could be boring. Every show has a few episodes which aren’t that good, but they’re balanced out by a higher average.

One thing the show actually did well was give characters character development and keep the universe moving. A lot actually happened during the 100 episodes and most of the characters are vastly different from how they started. New designs, new powers, and even personality shifts. The status quo wasn’t the same as when the show started which is important. The show wasn’t always consistent with this and I do get annoyed that Spiderman’s spider sense didn’t always work, but I suppose that’s bound to happen in any Spiderman show.

I can count on one hand the number of characters that the show actually wrecked: Vulture, Doctor Octopus, and Rhino. Those are the main ones anyway and season 4 was able to redeem Doctor Octopus. Beyond that, everyone was pretty true to form and it was fun seeing them all show up. Spiderman was also a fun lead as he was ultimately the hero that we all know and love. By the end he was pretty experienced and wise as well since he became a leader and got to learn how to lead in a few episodes. He got serious when he had too and was also a sharp fighter. It really felt like you grew with the characters in this series.

Overall, Ultimate Spiderman is a fun show. Perhaps it’s not what everyone was expecting or hoping for, but I was satisfied with it. I’m still glad it exists and that it lasted so long. The fact that it was entertaining and came up with so many different stories is nothing to sneeze at. It’s probably the best Spiderman show next to the 90’s one and it does come very close to matching that one as well. Its longer length gives it more replay value at any rate. The next show is coming out soon so I’ll see how that one turns out, but my expectations are a little lower. I’m going to miss all of the guest stars and the rich history this show brought along with it, but I suppose it’ll be nice to go back to having a solo Spiderman story for a chance with occasional guest stars rather than constant ones. Hopefully it can work through its poor animation and deliver a pretty good product.

Overall 7/10

Secret Avengers Volume 2 Iliad Review

This shouldn’t be confused with the other Secret Avengers comic that I reviewed as this is a completely different run. While there isn’t a lot of action this time around, the plot is interesting and the comic series certainly has a lot of promise. As expected, Shield (Not going to bother with the periods) is very shady and does things that do make them villains in a sense. Batman certainly wouldn’t put up with their shenanigans!

Daisy (AKA, the main character of the current Shield TV series) is the director of Shield and she led the Secret Avengers on an attack to destroy an AIM Agent. Maria Hill did not like this so she forcibly took control of Shield away from Daisy and shut down the whole project. This was simply crossing the line and tarnishing Shield’s reputation. Hill has a point here although things wouldn’t have gone so smoothly if Daisy had decided to actually fight back. It’s a little convenient for Hill that Daisy was so cooperative this time. This switcheroo in terms of leadership did leave the Avengers in a tough spot though, namely Mockingbird.

The concept of the Secret Avengers here is that they don’t even know that they’re on a mission. Their minds are hijacked by Shield before going into each mission and their memories are erased once the battle is over. Once Maria Hill goes back to being in charge, she scrubs their memories and forces them to evacuate the mission. The problem is that this also forced the heroes to leave Mockingbird stranded in the villain base ruled by Taskmaster and stuck in the body (or appearance) of an AIM agent. Getting out of that pickle is certainly going to be quite the feat for her.

As you can imagine, I definitely disagree with Shield’s methods here. Controlling the minds of these heroes (Hawkeye, Black Widow, Mockingbird, Hulk etc) is definitely crossing the lines. The end doesn’t justify the means, but Shield never seemed to really understand that. In Shield’s slight defense, the Hulk shouldn’t be able to be mind controlled at this point, but it certainly doesn’t change the fact that Shield should not have attempted this. I do love to see what Shield’s been reduced to though. Nick Fury is now just an average field agent and likewise with Coulson while Maria Hill and Daisy call the shots. (Until Daisy was fired) Things are just so loopy right now.

There isn’t a whole lot of action like I said earlier, but we do get to see the Hulk take down Graviton with a quick shot. I actually thought the villain was Hyperion for a second since the costume was so similar, but it was more realistic this way. Hyperion would not go down after a single punch! Taskmaster is actually one of the Secret Avengers and spends his time acting sort of like Deadpool. He can be serious one second and then total comic relief the next. He’s a fun character even if he’s totally ripped off from Prometheus. (Now he was an epic villain!) We didn’t get to see Taskmaster fight all that much, but he’s a valuable asset to have on the team.

This volume was mainly for the origin of the Secret Avengers as we saw Daisy and Maria Hill discuss the operation. The main plot with the AIM assassination was really just an excuse to have a little plot going. It was entertaining enough, but nothing really happened since the mission was scrubbed aside from Mockingbird’s plot. I’m looking forward to seeing the team go on an actual mission to see what they’ve got. I also look forward to seeing the rest of the heroes find out about their comrades being used like this. I definitely don’t think that it will be taken very well at all.

The art is solid. It has a darker backdrop than the average Marvel comic which did give me some trouble distinguishing Daisy and Maria Hill a few times, but it looks good for the most part. It looks professional and that’s always a good thing. It’s hard to describe the fight scenes, but they seemed to be good from what I saw. I believe that the writing was also good and the plot was interesting from start to finish. When a comic lacks action, you definitely want the plot to be engaging.

A missed opportunity here for me would be that we didn’t see Bruce Banner much. Since this is essentially the Indestructible Hulk, that would have been a lot of fun since his personality during this time period was really cool. With the Avengers all being mind controlled, we didn’t get to see them talk that much at all. At least they were loyal though and weren’t going to abandon the mission until forced too. Although, since the mission involved destroying someone….it may come at the expense of their heroics. You can see why they didn’t grab Iron Man or Captain America for this team. They’d probably ask a whole lot of questions. (Plus, Extremis should be able to protect Iron Man if you ask me. That was years ago, but the effects should linger)

There really weren’t any unlikable characters. Even though I disagreed with Daisy’s decisions, I could see her (unfortunate) train of thought. None of the characters were over the top or had pointless lines for the chuckles. The comic was serious, but without being over the top and handled itself well. This is a comic series that I could see being very good. With the origin of the team out of the way, the plot can really start and some of the seeds were sown here. Two of the villains (One of them being Graviton and the other being a lady with super strength and/or lasers) have decided to team up because things may get rocky in the future and Mockingbird’s going to have to escape from the big meeting that she was thrown into. The chips have been set and the ball is in the comic’s corner.

Overall, If you like to see your favorite (B) heroes taking on secret stealth missions, this is the comic for you. There is a lot of dialogue, but that shouldn’t be a problem for you because it’s all pretty interesting and you’ll get to learn about the history of the team. It’s also an interesting way to tie into the Shield TV show since Daisy gets a big role. I would have liked to have seen her use some sonic powers though, but maybe in the next volume. I don’t know if I’ll be reading that one anytime soon, but that’s another matter. Seriously though, with the plot out of the way, I’m ready for some action!

Overall 7/10

Essential Xmen Volume 11 Review

The Xmen may not be as popular as the Avengers, but I dare say that they tend to have bigger plots with more characters involved. The Xmen can have up to 5 different comic series at a time and nobody bats an eye. We’re just used to all of the mutants forming different groups and joining up for events. Because of this, it can be one of the more confusing comics and this essential definitely kept to that. The comics were a lot of fun, but it can be easy to forget what’s happening in the dozens of subplots.

I read this volume a while ago and I just wasn’t able to get the review out sooner because of others that kept pre empting this one. It doesn’t help that so many things were happening at once either. Luckily, Comicvine is great for this since I can check out which issues were in the graphic novel to jog my memory. Naturally, that can only help so much so this review may not be exactly like the standard Essential reviews. Still, let’s give it a shot!

This volume brings annuals from Uncanny Xmen, X Factor, and New Mutants along with issues from X Factor and the Uncanny Xmen series. As I mentioned earlier, there are a bunch of plots, but let’s go with the ones that I remember the most to start things off. That would be the Skrull plot!

I never forgot that big twist because it’s what made some parts confusing. The Xmen have to deal with a lot of Super Skrulls. Basically, they can steal your form and they also learn how to use your abilities, which makes them formidable. So, originally, you believe that some of the Xmen are merely being mind controlled or tricked and then it’s found out that some of them are Skrulls. Naturally, a lot of the classic questions arise like, “How long have they been abducted” and “Who’s the genuine article.” The comic doesn’t really answer all of those questions and it’s hard to tell.

The whole situation mainly starts with Psylocke and Professor Xavier as they use their abilities to mind control most of the Xmen. After that, I guess some of them are switched out in place of skrulls while others are kept in mind control. Gambit and Jubilee are really the only ones left to fight this! It was also a little surreal to see Xavier in the comic because we don’t see him that often anymore.

There’s also a mini arc where Proteus returns and he’s still one of the Xmen’s biggest threats. I liked his portrayal in the show as a villain, but I don’t really care for the character. He’s still a threat in this comic, but there’s only so much that a writer can do to make him interesting.

Somewhere between these various story arcs is a subplot about Nick Fury, Magneto, Rogue, and Kazar. They are in the jungle and Magneto has lost his powers while Rogue’s are a shadow of what they used to be. Together, they will still need to free the inhabitants of the Savage Land and attempt to get their powers back. Nick Fury doesn’t trust Magneto as one may have expected so it results in a lot of threats within the group.

The Uncanny Xmen comics in this collection end with the Shadow King saga. It results in the iconic cover that is featured above. I don’t care for the Shadow King either, but his ability to possess people makes for an interesting plot device. He makes sure to go after Colossus among others and it’s a pretty emotional experience for the Xman. He knows that he’s being mind controlled, which makes it all the worse. This saga was pretty good and it may not have had a lot of fights that I can remember, but it was still solid.

Finally, the collection also brings the first three issues of the Xmen series that began after this. It brings Magneto back as the antagonist, but he’s not in it for world domination as he used to be. Magneto merely wants to live out the rest of his days in peace along with his fellow mutants. Unfortunately, that’s not to be since some of the mutants that he brings along only want trouble and the Xmen are forced to get involve. Magneto’s only option is to retaliate and we get the inevitable clash of wits between them.

The art in the volume is pretty chaotic and being in black and white doesn’t help. I never really cared for the fact that they switched the colors to black and white for the essentials. What’s the purpose? It is all right though. It just makes it a little hard to follow the fight scenes since it can be harder to distinguish between the characters and many scenes are bustling with action. The actual art is pretty good though and it has that exaggerated 90’s feel. Everyone is typically out of proportion and everyone including Magneto and Cyclops have six packs. In the 90’s, everyone worked out!

This was a pretty rough breakdown of events compared to the usual review because of how long it’s been since I read it. I have three more older reviews coming up, but they aren’t quite as old and they’re less convoluted so the reviews should look to be back to normal for the most part. Most of the characters in this volume were pretty true to character except there was a bit of romance hinted between Rogue and Magneto, which was pretty sad. No matter how desperate the Savage Land can make you when your super powers are gone, it still felt forced. Cyclops unfortunately didn’t get much of a role until the Magneto saga, but he was still around for the other battles. The comics may have been confusing, but it was still fun to see such a large cast being forced to team up. It’s also why I love the Skrull plots since we get to see Xmen fighting other Xmen.

Overall, This was a solid Xmen collection. It would be a whole lot easier to read and comprehend everything if it was in color though. One positive is that black and white acts as a natural censor, which can help depending on the comic and the 90’s were an interesting time for the Xmen so this may have been for the best. These collections are always a great buy since they bring so many comics. This one likely had at least 400-500 pages of content inside of it, which never ceases to impress me. Any Marvel fan should enjoy this one, but you should not go into it expecting a simple plot with lots of action. The action is definitely there, but it is also pretty plot heavy. I would say that this is a good thing though and the writing is pretty solid. There is some fanservice for Psylocke unfortunately and some others as well, but the black and white (slightly) helps to reduce how sad this is. It’s still unnecessary and hopefully future volumes are better with that. There isn’t too much romance aside from the one plot and the cast of characters are likable for the most part. Apparently they never came out with Volume 12 so this may be the end of the road. It’s a good place to stop though since it brings the big climax for Uncanny Xmen as well as the first issues of the next Xmen series.

Overall 7/10

Jules Winnfield vs Nick Fury

Jules Winnfield makes his blog debut, but he won’t be able to take down Nick Fury. Nick Fury has his gun and he’s not afraid to use it. Jules Winnfield may be tough, but he lacks the tech and battle experience that Nick Fury has. Jules Winnfield loses his debut match. Nick Fury wins.

Nick Fury vs Ironman

Nick Fury has his gun at the ready, but I don’t think that it’s going to do him much good! He was never a match for someone like Ironman. One good unibeam could finish this battle in an instant! Maybe Nick Fury will be back to pwn someday..just not today. Ironman wins.

Madame Hydra vs Nick Fury

Madame Hydra got a super form when she came back from the grave. In the end she would have won without it, but every bit helps. Nick Fury may have his guns and hand to hand skills, but he loses this match. In hand to hand skills Madame Hydra is superior. Nick Fury will be back someday….just not today. He loses this match….and to his greatest rival at that. Madame Hydra wins.

Nick Fury vs Enchantress

Well Nick has a gun but it won’t be enough to win this battke. Enchantress is just too powerful with her magic powers and all. She gets herself a win. Fury however gets himself a loss and might not bounce back from it. It’s almost sad for his honor. Enchantress wins.

Nick Fury vs Graviton

Well Nick Fury won’t be able to handle Graviton. Graviton is one of the stronger villains and is not easily defeated. His gravity powers are so vast that he can keep several Marvel characters (over 20 counting Hulk, Thor and others) on the ground while doing other things. Graviton wins.