REVIEW: Ultimate Spider-Man: Contest of Champions #3 – Spider-Man And His Ultimate Friends!

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Marvel Universe Ultimate Spider-Man: Web-Warriors – Contest of Champions #3

Written By: Marty Isenberg

Directed By: Roy Burdine

Animation Art Produced By: Marvel Animation Studios with Film Roman

Adapted By: Joe Caramagna

Release Date: 06/25/16

Rating: Rated All ages

Price: $2.99

Ultimate Spider-Man

Peter Parker was once your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man until he was recruited by S.H.I.E.L.D. Director Nick Fury to join S.H.I.E.L.D. and become the Ultimate Spider-Man! Spider-Man has learned to work with other heroes and now two freakishly cosmic brothers, the Grandmaster and the Collector have decided to play a game with the heroes and villains as game pieces and New York is the board.. If the villains (Grandmaster’s team) win, the villans get to rule the world free of the heroes. If the heroes (Collector’s team) wins the eight million New Yorkers held prison are set free.


Plot:  The Collector is winning but not without cost! The next round has begun with Annihilus, Terrax, and Attuma Vs. Spider-Man, Agent Venom, Iron Spider and Thor! The battle is heating up and Spider-Man has a plan for Checkmate!


Story: This comic is based on the popular Disney XD animated series of the same name. This issue translates the 25th episode of the third season, as part three of four. I know a lot of people have a problem with this show on because it replaced the beloved Spectacular Spider-Man series that was produced by Sony and was canceled due to Marvel regaining the TV rights to Spider-Man. I never had a problem with it and I think that helps me enjoy this series more than most. I mention the series because the Marvel Universe, or Marvel Adventures line adapts the animated series using the episode as the script with some minor tweaks here and there.


This issue did a great job adapting that episode into comic form. Joe Caramagna usually does letters but I am glad to read his adaptation of the episode as he has actually added a bit more depth into a few scenes. The main scene that comes to mind is the one where Aunt May tell Spider-Man she knows he is Peter, in the animated episode they share a moment and he tells her he has to do it and she leaves, but in this comic Caramagna adds the classic line (and correctly) “With great power must also come great responsibility”, that little line in that moment hits home more as it gives May a reason to see that this is something Peter must do.


Another time was the decision to change who connects Aunt May calling Spider-Man Peter, to Spider-Man being Peter Parker. In the animated episode Iron Spider ( Amadeus Cho), but here Caramagna instead gives the line to Agent Venom (Flash Thompson) who actually shares a long history with both Peter Parker whom he bullied and Spider-Man who was his idol. These are small changes but they really do add more impact to the scenes.


The show and this comic also really utilizes Peter’s brain even when he is being paired up with the seventh smartest person on the planet (Amadeus Cho) and the fifth and sixth as well (The Leader and M.O.D.O.K.), it is Peter who comes up with the plan and takes the leadership role.  This is something that has been sorely lacking in the mainstream Spider-Man books. Another great highlight of the show/comic is also highlighted here, even though this is a “Spider-Man” show you never feel like the other characters are less than he is. They really utilize his vast array of guest stars from Nova, Power Man, Iron Fist and White Tiger to Agent Venom, Iron Spider, and Miles Morales. This really lends to the importance of Spider-Man in the Marvel Universe, which again is being ignored in the current comics.


Even though this show and comic are written to bring in a new younger generation it doesn’t hold back for the older fans. My favorite scene here was when Spider-Man, Iron Spider, and Agent Venom, and Flash calls them “Spider-Man and his Ultimate Friends.” This brought me right back to watching Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends as a kid, so it was a nice nod, especially since I have been calling this show that since season one.


Art: The art is these books are taken from the animated shows, so they really do lend that feeling that this is almost a Director’s Cut of the show, and sometimes vice-a-versa. They did a great job here with the combination of the scenes selected and the layouts of the panel that you feel a real nice flow of action and story by the  art alone. The color palete used in the show and in the comics are very bright and vibrant which lends to a nice youthful energy.


Verdict: While most brush Ultimate Spider-Man the animated series and the Marvel Universe Ultimate Spider-Man: Contest of Champions as “dumbed down” I see it as a harkening back to the core elements of Spider-Man that engage a younger fanbase and brings them into the world of comics and if anything can do that than it is worth it to me.


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