|Publication date||September 2000 – June 2011|
|No. of issues||160|
|Main character(s)||Peter Parker / Spider-Man|
|Written by||Brian Michael Bendis|
Ultimate Spider-Man is a superhero comic book series that was published by Marvel Comics from 2000 to 2011. The series is a modernized re-imagining of Marvel's long-running Spider-Man comic book franchise as part of the company's Ultimate Marvel imprint. Ultimate Spider-Man exists alongside other revamped Marvel characters in Ultimate Marvel titles including Ultimate X-Men, Ultimate Fantastic Four and The Ultimates.
Orphaned at the age of six, Peter Parker is an outcast and withdrawn teenaged science prodigy, who lives in Queens, New York. While attending a field trip to a scientific corporation, he is bitten by a genetically-modified spider and as a result, begins to develop spider-like superpowers, including enhanced strength, speed, agility, stamina, durability and reflexes, along with the ability to crawl solid surfaces and a sixth sense, which warns him of imminent danger, all of which he decides to utilize for personal gain. When an armed thief, whom Peter had encountered earlier and refused to stop out of spite, later murders his foster father/uncle in a robbery, a guilt-ridden Peter is later driven to use his abilities to atone for his partial responsibility in his uncle's murder, as the costumed vigilante Spider-Man. Now equipped with a responsibility to do good and help others under his Spider-Man alter-ego, Peter struggles to balance high school life and studies, his job as a web designer for the Daily Bugle, his relationship with his girlfriend Mary-Jane Watson, his family life with his widowed aunt, and his double life as Spider-Man, as he faces off against both superhuman and criminal threats to his home of New York City and contends with the hostility of the general public and the police authorities.
Ultimate Spider-Man first saw print in 2000 under veteran Spider-Man artist Mark Bagley and writer Brian Michael Bendis, who expanded the original 11-page origin story into a 180-page, seven-issue story arc. This duo continued to collaborate until issue #111, when Mark Bagley left the book and was replaced by Stuart Immonen.
The series was an unexpected commercial success, selling roughly 20 million copies worldwide and received critical acclaim from readers and critics, with Bendis writing, characterization, character development and narrative progression being widely praised, along with Bagley's and Immonen's art-work and the fresh, unique and modernized, yet faithful and familiar re-imagining of the classic Spider-Man mythos. Bendis and Bagley's run on Ultimate Spider-Man set the record for the longest continual run on a Marvel Comics series by two people, an honor previously held by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby on Fantastic Four. After issue #133, the series was relaunched, still written by Brian Michael Bendis with art provided by David Lafuente. This relaunch was short-lived. It resumed the Ultimate Spider-Man title with issue #3 and continued with the original numbering with the 16th issue (#150) even though the series was again cancelled with #160. It relaunched as Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man and features Miles Morales and a new artist named Sara Pichelli. The direct edition of Ultimate Spider-Man #1 is a highly sought after comic book and considered to be one of the most valuable comic books of the Modern Age.
Ultimate Spider-Man was the first series to be published in the Ultimate Marvel line. Publisher Bill Jemas wanted to re-invent the Marvel Universe because he felt that, with over 40 years of backstory, it had become inaccessible to new readers, and he wanted to start with a re-invented Spider-Man. Initially, Marvel Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada was skeptical because 1998's Spider-Man: Chapter One, a previous attempt at re-envisioning Spider-Man's early adventures, had failed both critically and commercially.
Though Spider-Man's original origin story in Amazing Fantasy #15 was only 11 pages long, Bendis' retelling of Spider-Man's origin was seven issues long. Bagley was at first wary of Bendis' notoriously slow pace in advancing plot, describing it as a "real shock" at first. Jemas originally intended the comic to feature single-issue stories only, but Bendis chose to make each story roughly six issues long.
The first several issues were greeted with enthusiasm from fans and critics, sold well, and gave Ultimate Marvel a boost in credibility. After the release of Ultimate Spider-Man (along with Ultimate X-Men), Quesada and Jemas broadened the Ultimate Marvel line with The Ultimates (a re-imagining of the Avengers) and Ultimate Fantastic Four. Ultimate Spider-Man #1 was voted the "ninth-greatest Marvel Comic of All Time" in 2001 by readers of Wizard: The Guide to Comics. In addition to critical success, Ultimate Spider-Man grew to outsell the flagship Spider-Man title, The Amazing Spider-Man. Bendis would later describe issue #13, in which Peter tells Mary Jane his secret identity, as his favorite issue because it showed the trust that the Marvel editorial staff had in him.
As the series progressed within the next two years, reception and sales stayed strong, helped by the fact that Bendis and Bagley quickly found chemistry and enjoyed working together. Over the years, many 'mainstream' characters were introduced, often with different origins, costumes, and/or personalities.
Mark Bagley left the book as of Ultimate Spider-Man #110 in August 2006. Bagley and writer Brian Michael Bendis had worked on the series together since it began. Artist Stuart Immonen, already familiar with the Ultimate Universe from his work on Ultimate Fantastic Four and Ultimate X-Men, took over after Bagley. Issue #111, named "The Talk", featured Immonen's art for the first time. The issue was divided into two parts, with Bagley covering the art for one section, and Immonen doing the other. Issue #133 was the final issue of the series before a two-issue follow-up entitled Ultimatum: Spider-Man Requiem was released, revealing the status of the title's characters after the events of the "Ultimatum" storyline. Despite the book's apparent cancellation, in August 2009 Ultimate Spider-Man was relaunched with Brian Michael Bendis returning as writer and David Lafuente as artist. The book finished its run with #160 and subsequently was relaunched as Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man with art by Sara Pichelli.
See also: List of Ultimate Spider-Man story arcs
The renumbering for Vol 2 #16/#150 was confusing to many readers. The letter page for Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man (2011) #8 mentions that issue 0.5 (1/2) was included in the total.
For issues 200 and 234 up, Marvel Legacy considers #54–133 and #150–160 to be wrongly numbered, and accounts for all major Ultimate Spider-Man comics written by Bendis: