Wow. I have to say, I was really impressed with this issue of Ultimate Spider-Man. It is not that it was some special issue (like the Ultimate Spider-Man Annual #1, which caught everyone by surprise how good it was), but it just stuck out as not just a good old-fashioned comic book yarn, but as the perfect comic for people who have a problem with how Brian Michael Bendis writes Ultimate Spider-Man.
Typical complaints about Bendis' Ultimate Spider-Man (which I generally agree with):
1. Too much of the mopey "two characters just talk for pages with photostated panels"
2. Not enough action
3. When there is action, it is spread out way too much (so that a battle scene could take, like, three issues)
4. Basic Formatitis problems due to the "written for the trade" format.
This issue manages to avoid all that, with the first of a two-part storyline titled "Morbius." I am not even a fan of the character of Morbius, and I dug this issue.
Bendis juggles quite a few sub-plots in the issue, which was fun to see, and it also gave the book a nice air of depth that is sometimes lacking in the title.
The book opens with a flashback involving Spider-Man and Blade, then takes us to the present, where the Peter/Kitty Pryde romance has taken an intriguing turn, as Kitty has been seen with Spider-Man romantically, so now Peter and Kitty cannot date as Peter Parker/Kitty Pryde, or else people will easily put two and two together. Their conversation is handled well, and I especially like Kitty's consistent self-esteem issues. I enjoy how Bendis has managed to keep that up.
Ben Urich has some good scenes, and Bendis has good fun with the whole secret identity problem, as Peter would like to help Ben out, but the info he knows came from his costumed adventures, so he has to keep quiet - tough spot for Peter.
There is a quick mopey talk between Peter and Mary Jane, as she has discovered the relationship between Kitty and Peter, but it is okay, as it is not, like, the entire issue and after all, a little mopiness is always good, as Spider-Man works well when he has to deal with problems - in this instance, it is dealing with the fact that HE is happy with Kitty while MJ is NOT happy alone - and she can't very well turn to her best friend, as, well, that's Peter!!
The issue ends with a nice vampire fight and the appearance of...MORBIUS! Oooooh...spooky. Nice cliffhanger.
Mark Bagley does his typically solid work. The art on this title has gotten a lot better since John Dell took over the inking chores (MAN, he's good), and the pages where Palmiotti inks instead of Dell are...well...not as good.
Still, when all is said and done, this was a nice, action-packed issue with nice art that had a lot of interesting sub-plots. It almost reminds me of Stan Lee's Spider-Man a bit (post-Ditko, of course).
So yeah, I would recommend this comic, and I can't even think of a reservation at this point in time.