Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man #3 Review


Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: David Lafuente
Letter: VC’s Cory Petit
Colorist: Justin Ponsor

In the Midtown High School newspaper bullpen, Jessica Jones and Mary Jane watch the online video posted by Mysterio, in which he gloats over the media attention surrounding his murder of Wilson Fisk. Jessica wants MJ to do the webcast on this because it’s a Spider-Man related bad guy since it’s common knowledge Spidey goes to Midtown, regardless of how MJ objects. While MJ thinks Jessica’s going after Spider-Man because she wants enough clout to get her into any university journalism program she wants, but Jessica assures her she’s being completely altruistic in her motives. MJ leaves.
At the Parker home, Johnny and May have a heart to heart over what he’s been doing these past six months. Ever since the cataclysm that hit New York that killed his father, Johnny’s been travelling abroad, in shock. He came to the Parker home because Peter was the only real friend he ever had. May relates to him by talking about the loss of her husband and how she could no longer live in the old house. She encourages Johnny to call his sister, Sue.

At the mall, Peter’s asleep on the job at Burger Frog and is told off by his supervisor. Taking a few minutes to shake off the exhaustian, he bumps into Mary Jane. The encounter is awkward, leaning quickly towards why Mary Jane dumped him six months ago, and how destroyed she was when she learned that he had hooked up with Gwen, the person who had claimed that she loved Peter like a brother. She also admits she’s upset that he hadn’t even called her in months and that she had to find out about them hooking up through word of mouth. The argument leaves Peter still in the dark as to why she left him.

At the same time, in downtown New York, mass panic is in the streets at the invasion of gigantic spiders. The attention draws Spider-Man into action, who doesn’t see what they see. To the cops, he’s interpreted as one of them and they open fire. On ground level, he sees the spiders and fires webs at them…which pass right through them. Holograms.
At the Federal Reserve, meanwhile, Mysterio uses the chaos to his advantage and utilizes his hover tech to load tons of gold into the truck in the back of the bank. Spider-Man of course arrives to stop him. Enraged, Mysterio retaliates by going invisible and attacking him. Spider-Man manages to get out of his grasp, but cannot stop Mysterio from teleporting away. The police arrive, who are quick to believe Spidey’s side of the story.

In Queens, Gwen arrives home to see Sue and Johnny have a “heart to heart” over her little brother’s absence, while Myserio obsessively watches the good press Spidey has over busting the gold heist.
Back in Queens, Peter arrives home to recieve a hug from Sue, who tells him to keep an eye on Johnny, saying he looks up to him. She offers him to call if he needs anything and hugs him again, telling him she’s glad a great guy like Peter’s okay. Peter walks into the house and Johnny greets him like his “new baby brother” and asks him to guess who lives here now permanently…


  • some answers to the Peter-MJ breakup (albeit cryptic)
  • Spidey vs. Mysterio
  • the mystery of Johnny Storm revealed
  • Susan’s cameo


  • MJ’s redesign (as always)
  • the ease at which Spidey defeats Mysterio
  • Waid-esque motif in the New York scene (I’ll explain)

Before I start, I want to apologize for the lateness of my review (again). Nuff said. Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of the issue. The beginning of it, seeing MJ in a newspaper setting as opposed to Peter was an interesting twist. Parker’s gone from web constructing (the digital kind) to slinging burgers, while MJ’s journalistic career’s taking off. It shows a lot of growth in her character, in particular to her reluctance to endorse Peter’s alter ego. This opportunity also provides more of a building block for the Jessica Jones character. I know Brian intensified her connection to Peter in regular continuity by being one of the witnesses to the infamous high school fight between Spidey and Sandman. Can we expect something on that level now in the Ultimate universe? She may have powers, she may not. I’m sure that Brian’s in no hurry to make her impregnated by yet-to-be-introduced Ultimate Luke. Then again, with Brian, he always does the OPPOSITE of what people are expecting.  However, again I must reiterate my disdain for Lafuente’s redesign of Mary Jane. If not for the red hair, you’d never know it was her. I guess I’m too used to the bangs in front of her forehead. I understand the new look represents her effort to move on, but this is a little extreme.

But let’s get back to the plot. In the third issue you’ve got three subplots, so I’ll go through them systematically. First we have the May-Johnny conversation. While admittedly Storm revealed very few details as to what he did following Ultimatum, it gives you an idea of how traumatized he was at the death of his father. Bendis is really giving the reader the impression that he’s kind of a Flash Thompson-lite; a bit of the ego, but more open and more likable. The motherly way that May related her own pain to Johnny’s was a little expected. It almost seemed predictable that May would take in another weary young soul (though a potential fire hazard). I hope that Bendis fleshes out Johnny’s character beyond the happy-go-lucky Human Torch. And the commaradarie between he and Peter that will start up as to sharing space. I really liked the Sue cameo, and how she embraced the idea of his living with Peter, as well as the parting words with him. It shows that she’s going through some stuff herself and doesn’t want to push Johnny at all. She’s being a good sister, and she sees Peter as being the perfect moral compass for Johnny because of his respect for Spider-Man. I hope that Brian brings her back in soon; it’s interesting how now both the X-Men and the FF are now tied in to this book since their own were cancelled.

So…finally we’ve come to it. The MJ-Peter encounter. I’ve gotta say that this is a radical departure from the previous series. Before the conclusion of the first volume, they seemed so in synch. Now they seem like on opposite sides of the planet. Teen angst at its best. And I like how he connected the conversation that MJ had with the original Gwen in the Carnage storyline in Volume 1 about how she loved Peter like a younger brother to the current state of affairs. Admittedly yeah it does seem a little weird. But I totally identify with Peter, though; calling things off without a reason was a little cold on Mary Jane’s part. I mean what does the woman want?! He was buried under tons of rubble at the epicenter of the apocalypse! After all they’ve been through together, to diss Parker like this was really low and selfish on her part. And how can she do this and NOT expect a little distance on Peter’s part? Yeah the Gwen-Peter thing was a little rushed, but it’s not like he needed her permission. This is why I like Bendis’ dialogue; he manages to get the reader emotionally invested in the course of the story. I welcome the truth as to why MJ ended this so abruptly.

And now we come to the big showdown. Mysterio vs. Spider-Man. A little bit of a let down. I’ll explain why. The significance of the “Waid-esque” comment is that writer Mark Waid, in his revamp of Superman’s origin in Superman: Birthright, has a scene in which Lex tries to discredit Big Blue by using his tech to create holographic Kryptonian creatures and armies descending on Metropolis. As soon as I saw the scene with the holographic spiders, I instantly thought of that issue. Further, we have this big windup from the first issue. We’ve got a souped-up badass version of ol Bubblehead (sans the bubble) take out the number one antagonist in Peter’s life, and narcissistically announcing a widespread takeover. We’re expecting a more indepth, psychological battle between these two. A two-issue long game of cat-and-mouse. And yet now we get the exact opposite. A gold heist from the Federal Reserve while his spiders are running interference. Did Brian watch Die Hard With A Vengeance the night before by any chance? I’m sorry if you guys disagree with me, but I was just expecting something more. The whole “I’ll get you next time, Spider-Man” schtick just didn’t fit for me.

Overall, it’s a good issue on characterization, but the big blowout battle we were expecting was really anticlimactic. I hope there’s an improvement from here because the battles so far are too easily tied up by issue’s end lately. If these are preliminary bouts, fine. But have it go somewhere, Brian. The ending of Mysterio now fully obsessed with Spider-Man is good; let’s see where this goes.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Webs

Cover: 5 out of 5 Webs
This was good art on Lafuente’s part. It centered on the major concern of the issue, being Mysterio, and is instantly followed by his podcast on page one of the story. Great stuff!

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