Graphic Novel Review: Ultimate Spider-Man: Chameleons

(Panini Books, �14.99)

WELCOME to a world of genetically altered super soldiers, mutant outlaws and your friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man…

But this is not the Marvel Universe we know, it is actually the Ultimate Universe where Spider-Man is a 15-year-old high school student juggling his private life with his career as a high-flying superhero.

Sharing his Aunt May’s house with lodgers Johnny (The Human Torch) Storm, Bobby (Iceman) Drake and his girlfriend Gwen Stacy, webslinger Peter Parker is just about getting by when events conspire to rip his world apart…

First his ex-girlfriend and former X-Man Kitty Pryde is targeted by government agents as a mutant terrorist, then he is replaced by the mysterious Chameleon, a shapeshifting criminal who can transform into an identical duplicate of anyone he comes into contact with.

After trying it on with Parker’s other ex-girlfriend, Mary Jane Watson, sticking it to school bully Flash Thompson, and blowing his stack with guardian May, the Chameleon decides to use Spider-Man’s identity to commit bank robberies across New York City…

What’s beautiful about the Ultimate Spider-Man series is its strong grounding in reality, despite the highflying superheroics, and the remarkable characterisation of its protagonists, who really do talk and act like everyday American teenagers. Writer Brian Michael Bendis has been with the series from its beginnings more than a decade ago, and has carefully crafted the development of his cast, ensuring his readers never lose belief in the events transpiring on the printed page.

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This latest volume continues the high standards established in previous books, and looks set to push Ultimate Spidey into new challenges and adventures which further develop the character away from his counterpart in the original Marvel Universe.