cover image Ultimate Six

Ultimate Six

Brian Michael Bendis. Marvel Comics, $17.99 (208pp) ISBN 978-0-7851-1312-6

One of the things that has made Spider-Man such an enduring character is the gang of colorful misfits who make up his rogues' gallery. In this tale, his five greatest foes-Doctor Octopus, the Green Goblin, Electro, Craven the Hunter and Sandman-have been incarcerated in a high-security prison for the criminally supervillainous. Although doped up and under interrogation, they escape and unite, and begin searching for the sixth member of their unstoppable team for evil. Unfortunately, the cover itself gives away some of the mystery surrounding the sixth member: could it possibly be Spider-Man himself? Readers should be aware that this story is set in Marvel's ""Ultimate"" universe, where characters have been refurbished for 21st-century audiences. So, for example, the Green Goblin now transforms into an actual demon (instead of putting on a corny mask and suit). Bendis's terse dialogue and Hairsine's detailed, action-packed art gives the story a nice momentum, but little is gained by the attempts to add depth by having the characters talk about the dangers of governmental experimentation in genetic mutation. Bendis gives the villains real personality, but misses an opportunity to point out the tale's most obvious lesson: that any government facility that thinks five desperate supervillains won't try to escape from a group therapy session isn't thinking very clearly.