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Ultimate Spider-Man Vol. 13: Hobgoblin: 02/21/10
I've been a Spider-Man fan on and off since I was about Harriet's age. I stopped reading the comic regularly when I left for college. That was right around the time that the "graphic novel" was coming into its own as a genre. Comic book publishers scrambled to revamp their series to fit the longer and darker format. Now a younger generation is growing up on comics and graphic novels (I'd hazard the novels more so than the comics) and there are series aimed at tweens and young adults.
While my local library was still closed for the move to its new location, I was frequenting the Dublin branch instead. It also has a collection of graphic novels but the choices are more limited and haphazard. For instance, they have only one volume of Ultimate Spider-Man. It happens to be Volume 13: Hobgoblin by Brian Michael Bendis (originally issues 72-8). What an odd place to start but I thought I'd give it a try.
Graphic novels are a balance between the artwork and story. Hobgoblin has a good story. It has the competition between Peter Parker and Harry Osborn and the love triangle around M.J. There's also a crossover with Nick Fury for an added bonus. These things I liked.
I guess for things to be "Ultimate" the typical emotional angst of the Spider-Man series needs to be cranked up to eleven. Even that I can handle. It seems to be the direction the series has gone in recent incarnations.
What turned me off though was the artwork. Every character seems to be in a perpetual state of saying "Duh!" with their lower jaws jutting out and their lips puckered and turned in impossible directions. I suppose it's to show their emotional states but they look like cavemen! The treatment on MJ was especially unflattering. She's not necessarily supposed to be supermodel gorgeous but her artistic treatment just seemed cruel to previous incarnations.