Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #2 Review


UltimateComicsSpiderMan2-737924Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Penciller/Inker: David Lafuente
Colorist: Justin Ponsor
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit

Picking it up from last issue, Peter, Gwen, and May discuss an exhausted Johnny Storm crashing at the Parker household. Meanwhile, across town, the mysterious assailant of Wilson Fisk reads about the coverage of the murder. Talking to a webcam, he proclaims that he no longer wants a piece of the underworld – he wants it all and no one will no his identity or how he pulled it off. He then adds to keep calling him Mysterio and that he thrives on and respects the attention sparked from this course of action, and anticipates more to come. To him, whatever happens from this point the people of New York deserve it.
Peter wakes up from a nightmare in which he, as Spider-Man, is underwater surrounded by other drowned heroes of New York.
The next day, at school, Flash and his buddies harrass Kittty Pryde “Parker style,” throwing food at her. By reflex she lets them phase through her. Kenny – now with a punk mohawk and leathers –  stands up for her. Flash feels justified because mutants are now declared illegal thanks to Magneto’s actions. The principal gives Kitty detention for using her abilities. Kitty then notices Mary Jane videotaping all this. Regardless of MJ’s intention on showing the cruel mistreatment of mutants in high school, Kitty phases through the camera and destroys it, adding salt to the wound by jabbing how she no longer has a boyfriend anymore. MJ says under her breath that neither does Kitty.
On the roof, Gwen and Peter’s lunch is interrupted by nearby explosions. Peter suits up and swings towards the commotion while Gwen covers for him in lab. It’s a mother-and-daughter team known as the Bombshells, who are both capable of discharging explosive blasts…and apparently implementing them in jewel thefts.  The fight is taken to the next level as they inadvertedly blow up a tanker truck, nearly taking Spidey with it. Taking it to the roofs, the battle continues. Spidey manages to web the face of the daughter, Lori, which enrages the mother. The wall-crawler takes out the mother and tries to apprehend the daughter, who then uses her powers to propel them every which way…and abruptly loses her powers. The pair ricochet off the walls down into a garbage dumpster. Apparently, as Lori explains, she and her mother can retain their powers only when they’re together. Separate, they’re an easy arrest by the NYPD. Again, Spider-Man feels awkward at the comfort level of the police these days. He declines their invite to the prescinct to meet the rest of the guys and swings off, already late for lab.
Back home, Johnny finally awakens on the couch to find May right beside him on a chair. He’s apparently been asleep all day. She asks him  point blank where he’s been and what happened to him. Johnny scratches his head…
TO BE CONTINUED…

LIKES:

  • Flash being an ass again
  • Kenny is back
  • the Lori-Spidey verbal battle
  • Kitty vs. Flash vs. Principal vs. MJ

DISLIKES:

  • Kenny going punk rocker
  • Peter and Gwen (still)
  • The death of the Kingpin
  • Not much Mysterio
ADDITIONAL NOTES:
The second issue delivers a better balance of Peter and Spidey than the first, whereas in #1 the focus was “What happened?” and a lot of “What the?!?” moments in regards to Pete’s social life. Again I apologize for the lateness of this review. The pratfalls of being an artist. Anyway, on to business…
I like the heightened anti-mutant wave and how it’s affecting Kitty Pryde’s stay at Midtown High. It’s almost on the same principle as homophobia; I remember when I was in high school, there were gay students who, whether they were expressive with their sexuality or a secret outed by a local classmate, were ostracized and even bullied and beaten. Bendis takes this prejudice and makes Flash Thompson the embodiment of it since he is Peter Parker’s #1 tormentor. In fact the fries incident parallels that infamous scene at the mall in USM #1. And as opposed to his motivations for bullying Peter for laughs, Flash has, in effect, fallen in with the new social norm, that mutants are outlawed and dangerous. He has adapted that social convention because deep down, the bullying side of his is cowardly, and he feels it’s easier to fall in line rather than stand out. To stand out in that manner is to also be shunned by his crew. However, in Kenny, you see the flipside. He’s no longer concerned with being shunned or succumbing to peere pressure.  Rather than supporter and best friend, the character’s evolved to a state where his point of view diverges from Flash’s strongly. Aside from his obvious feelings for Kitty, Kenny was a part of what happened during Ultimatum, so we have an eyewitness to Kitty’s actions during the crisis. He’s been on the other side of the line that Flash won’t dare cross for fear of no longer being the BMOC. However, I’m not sure if I agree with Kenny’s new look; the punk rocker purple mohawk doesn’t really suit the character. Could this be his way of venting his breakup with Kitty? Getting back to Kitty herself, you genuinely get the sense of oppression, even from the principal. Mutants have always been Marvel’s vehicle to convey the notion of racism and oppression, and Bendis does a magnificent job of it in this issue. She’s being attacked from three fronts; Flash with the fries, the principal with unjustified detention and Mary Jane seemingly exploiting this public humiliation. From Mary Jane, meanwhile, you get the sense that she’s filling the void left in her life from her breakup with Peter (still unknown as to who broke up with who at this point) by thrusting herself into her extracirricular activities. We see the classic essence of the character in this move; Mary Jane Watson has always survived through escapism, be it drama, dancing, clubbing, or playing the field.
As for the main action in this book, Spidey vs. Bombshells, this is very hilarious. Spidey’s quips makes this fight work, as always. Anyone get a sense that Brian misses putting cursing into his books from his stint on Alias? The potty-mouthed teenaged daughter was a great foil for Pete in this battle. And the setup between these two characters – the mother and daughter – is very unique. Whether it’s a mutation or accident that gave them these abilities, it’s archetypal of the bond between mother and child.  When Lori is apart from her mom and loses her powers, it’s symbolic of leaving the nest and that safety net when someone comes of age. They’re stronger when they’re together, and Brian spins it in a twisted way in that these two are more tolerable when kept apart.
I am still not sold on moves such as Fisk’s death and the new Peter-Gwen duo. I feel that Brian could have done more with the Kingpin. His character didn’t have much time to be fleshed out. All we know is that he’s an ultimately corrupt, untouchable S.O.B. whose only weakness it seemed was his ailing wife and a kid with spider-powers. I can see the need to amplify the significance and threat of the new Mysterio by taking out the biggest player in the game during the first inning, but I guess I was hoping for another Spidey-Kingpin clash. Bendis is obviously trying to make Mysterio out to be a significant threat rather than the bubble-headed bad guy who blew his brains out a few years back. This Mysterio relies on more of the technological age rather than old-school special effects. He’s all media it seems. Whether that video message was sent out to multiple acting television stations or online, or if it was just a narcissistic character trait given substance, we get the sense that he is a loner, embittered, ambitious, and megalomaniacal. As for Peter and Gwen…the Lee-Romita version made more sense than this pairing does. Before she died the first time in USM, Gwen swore to MJ that she loved Peter like a little brother, so why are they a couple? What happened? Did one thing lead to another, or does the Carnage clone version of Gwen harbor feelings for Peter that the other didn’t? It’s like she’s acting as Mary Jane did in the role of the faithful, supportive girlfriend. While it’s nostalgic for those who were reading the book when regular continuity Gwen was still alive, or even the Sale-Loeb book SPIDER-MAN: BLUE, this pairing doesnt have the solidity or made-for-each-other sense that Peter and MJ had. Is Brian trying to increase Peter’s love life beyond just one girl? Or is he taking a cue from Joe Quesada and breaking Peter and MJ up for a while? If it’s the latter, I still have a bone to pick with Quesada for annihilating the marriage from regular continuity, but that’s an editorial in itself for another time.
As for Johnny Storm…I don’t have much on him this time around because mostly he just slept through the entire issue. Overall this was an entertaining issue, but was lacking in certain areas. Still, Rome wasn’t built in a day, right?
RATING: 4 out of 5 Webs
COVER: 1 out of 5 Webs
Okay…multiple Spideys in a kaleidoscope-esque montage…what’s the point? Where’s the significance? This kind of composition had a relevance when Ron Lim used it for the cover of MAXIMUM CLONAGE, and Bagley had a reason when it was issue 110 of volume one of this series, but this is just a graphic and nothing else. Lafuente’s just wasting space on this one. The point of a cover is to attract the prospective reader to the book, as I’ve said before. This is just an 8 x 10 poster.

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