Amazing Spider-Man #634: So this is what all the fuss was about! For the past year, Spider-Man has been beaten and bloodied, worn down and tested. The purpose is revealed here: The Kravens are trying to resurrect their father. But to do so, they need to kill a few spiders. And seeing as how Peter Parker is no longer the only "Spider" person out there, a lot of people need to die. The writers tried to throw a little "Knightfall" action into this by making Peter suddenly have a cold, but it plays no major role in the story (yet), so I wonder if it will be dropped just as soon as it was introduced. But, one thing Joe Kelly has been able to do (that no one else seems to have been able to do) is capitalize on the whole "Clone Saga" story. Every Spider-Man fan (and pretty much every comic book fan) knows the debacle of the mid-90's that involved Spider-Man potentially being a clone. A laborious story was drawn out, and in the end, it was revealed that he wasn't. It has set the tone for epic story failures, so it's nice to see Kelly reference it in a way that puts an interesting (plot-wise) spin on it. I wonder if people who haven't followed Spider-Man that past year could get into this. It seems to be a gamble, especially when comics are always trying to recruit new readers. But if the "Grim Hunt" delivers on its set up, I think Marvel may have found a way to make up for the clone saga.
Ultimate X #3: I'm enjoying these vignettes. Jeph Loeb spends most of each issue of Ultimate X introducing us to one more mutant player of the Ultimate universe. This time, I think it's Archangel, but I'm not sure, having never read an issue of Ultimate X-Men, nor a 616 X-Men story. So while I can't speak to how Loeb alters the character, I can speak from the viewpoint of a fan who has no background with the X-Men's long history. Ultimate X adds one more player, then, and as the series moves forward, it's shaping up to be a great story. Wolverine's son turns out to be just like his father -- in that he's got the hots for Jean Grey. There's a great moment when Jimmy Hudson (Logan's son) wakes up with his head resting against Jean's chest. Arthur Adams gives us his viewpoint, and both Jimmy and Jean's reactions. It's a testament to the heart of the series. A good story is just that until it has interesting characters, and Loeb has really found a way to give these characters life. What's even nicer is that while Ultimate Avengers 2 and New Ultimates continue to stink up the shelves, Loeb is at least able to inject some soul into this series. For those of you disappointed with everything else the Ultimate Universe has to offer, you should read Ultimate X. It will fill that lonely space in your ultimate heart.
Brightest Day #4: This issue feels like it takes a break from the pressing mysteries it has introduced, and instead stalls, in some ways, at advancing the plot. One thing that's paid off, though, is that Geoff Johns said the character Dove would be extremely important. We get a bit more of that here, but not enough to really explain anything. As usual, the frustration is building because we're getting no answers for all of our questions. For the first time, however, I feel like Johns and Tomasi have laid out their plans for each issue: a few pages on Blackest Night character A, a few on Character B, and a few on Character C. It's a nifty formula, but it doesn't give the story enough time to develop, especially when the authors know their plans, and how much time they have to fulfill them. My concern with Brightest Day (which despite my gripes is an excellent series) is that they may lose readers if they don't give them a reason to hang on. Hopefully, as the first arc comes to a close, we'll be given at least a few nuggets to keep us sated for the long road ahead.