Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man #11 Review



Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Art: David LaFuente
Colorist: Justin Ponsor
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit

In the kitchen, May advises the boys to tone down their superhero activities for the time being in light of what happened to Kitty; they are getting a new principal in light of Suitress’ resignation, so in order to avoid suspicion at the hands of an unpredictable replacement, the “Spider-Friends” have to stay incognito for a while. As to Kitty’s whereabouts with Kenny, the group are still in the dark. Bobby doesn’t want to give up on her, and while Gwen reminds them that there’s a chance Kenny can make her come around, he isn’t so positive. May reminds them nicely that she’ll know if they suit up via online. Bobby suggests to Johnny they get jobs and Peter suggests Burger Frog because they’re always hiring.
The next day Bobby’s a trainee alongside Pete wearing a tag saying “tadpole.” Johnny can’t help but crack wise at them both. Bobby retaliates by freezing his underwear. MJ breaks up the commaradarie asking to talk to both Gwen and Peter.
After showing them the footage, while Gwen’s all for selling it, Mary Jane is reluctant because she wants a shot at a journalism program after graduation. However, she feels conflicted because while she doesn’t want to hurt Kong or Kitty anymore than they already have been, the video redeems Suitress, who was against the federal agents’ actions. Peter knows who to bring this problem to.
The next day, Peter and Mary Jane are at the revamped Daily Bugle, now an online publication entitled DailyBugle.com. While MJ is ecstatic, Peter isn’t because he confesses to be an “old school” fan of newspapers. They meet up with Ben Urich, for which MJ wants to discuss “journlalistic principles.” After reviewing the footage, Ben realizes the quandry that Mary Jane is in…and asks how much she wants for it. He persisitently tries to meet MJ’s price and she is vehement about not wanting anything. He then says it was a test of MJ’s integrity; if she had actually wanted money for it, he’d have kicked them out. While the news has to be reported, it’s not necessary to show the footage. While MJ’s willing to go on record, Peter isn’t. While Ben immediately prepares to take MJ’s account, Pete gives a casual wave to J. Jonah Jameson…who for some reason sets Peter’s spider-sense off. He leaves the pair in order to look into this.
Following him via elevator down to the parking garage, he’s met by Jonah as the doors open. Jonah says he doesn’t remember him and tries taking a swing at him. Peter dodges and returns the favor, only connecting. Grabbing his hand he demands to know what’s going on. Jameson touches Peter’s chest and sends an electrical charge jolting him into submission. Taking advantage, “Jonah” checks Peter’s wallet and ID, then drags him to his car. Peter regains consciousness and holds him face-to-face…and morphs into an exact copy of Peter. Before Peter can do anything, this “chameleon” sends a more powerful bolt at him and slams the door shut. He returns upstairs to MJ and Ben, claiming he just wants to sit in and listen.
TO BE CONTINUED…

LIKES:

  • Ultimate Chameleon – NUFF SAID!
  • MJ and Ben Urich discussing journlistic ethics
  • May acting like a parent and less like a cheerleader
  • Daily Bugle going digital
  • Principal SUITRESS – where for art thou!
  • Return of familiar faces

DISLIKES:

  • Peter Parker uncomfortable with a digital newspaper?
  • Lafuente’s handling of the shape changing abilities of the Chameleon
  • Step down from last issue’s emotional one-two

ADDITIONAL NOTES:
I had been wondering when Chameleon would show his face (or rather faces) in this series. Bendis teased us a while back when a Spider-Man imposter was hopping around robbing banks and blowing certain NYPD police captains to kingdom come. But it was “just some guy,” as he admitted. Now we have the white-faced rogue in all his glory. But more on that in a second.
Though very much an aftermath issue, I like the fact that Bendis has decided to focus on Mary Jane in this issue. Yes it had the comedic moment of Bobby and Peter working the same fast food joint in the mall, but I feel this was about MJ. Since the reboot she’s pretty much been overshadowed by Gwen and Pete’s new superpowered buddies. The last time she was at the forefront was when she went out on that date with Mark Raxton in the first volume of this series. She is facing a crisis of conscience with this very sensitive video footage. It’s a double-edged sword; this footage could excel her career in journalism, and yet sever all ties with Kitty and possibly the rest of the group. I like the idea of Peter tapping into his contacts at the Bugle and talking to Ben Urich. It seems like such a natural choice on Bendis’ part for taking MJ away from her older counterpart’s modelling world, and place her in an environment which Peter is best known to inhabit: The newsroom. I argue that it is so that Peter and MJ would be on a collision course back towards each other. I don’t see Peter staying in that deadend job at the mall for long. But getting back to MJ and Ben, the discussion makes sense. Urich’s test on MJ tests her moral character and I agree with that tactic; she’s a 16 year old girl with a potential meal ticket in her hands and, while he knows where Peter stands, he doesn’t know where she does. His choice to write the story instead of release the footage gets her off the hook, which is the benchmark of a seasoned professional. The mentor-protege dynamic that he shared with Peter can easily be extended to Mary Jane. However, her developing story feels much like an anticlimax as opposed to what had transpired last issue. Bendis is trying to tell a new story while alluding to last issue’s events, which he should by all rights, but it feels too much like he’s torn between telling an aftermath tale while introducing a new threat in Peter Parker’s life. Also, the notion of MJ tempted in the slightest at cashing in on Kitty Pryde’s woes seems too petty and the antithesis of who she is. I don’t see MJ as the scrupulous reporter, and I’m glad he used Urich’s test to prove that. I also see some friction brewing between Peter and Gwen, as in that scene before they went to the Bugle. It’s fair to say that Chameleon’s only going to make things worse.
As to the current state of the paper, I like the idea of the Daily Bugle going digital as opposed to print; it is the next logical step and probably will happen in reality in about twenty years from now. But I am unsure as to why Peter feels like a fish out of water in this environment. I don’t believe that it is a question of his being a traditionalist. When he first got a job at the Bugle, he was their resident webmaster. He had a unique quality and set of skills to keep the paper afloat online. Now that the entire focus has shifted to the internet, they have DOZENS of webmasters working the network. In short, he’s lost that one characteristic that made him stand out from the adults. Their minor resource has now been pushed to the forefront, and has technicians and webmasters with college degrees. Thus, he feels adrift in a place that was once home away from home, save for a few friendly faces.
On the Parker household front, we see the aftermath of Principal Suitress – YES FINALLY A NAME IS USED AFTER THE CHARACTER IS OUSTED BY THE SCHOOL BOARD – posting the responsibility for their kids’ behavior and direction on where it belonged: the parent. Since the start of the series May has been “rah rah rah” for the superhero community her nephew’s a part of, which is counter to her fiestiness in the first volume. She’s been too agreeable for the past little while and has given Peter and the others too much freedom. I like the idea of her advising them to show restraint in light of what happened to Kitty. Here we see her remind the reader that she’s a parent first and boarder second. These kids are under her protection and her roof, so she has to lay down the law in order to act effectively in that role.
Now we come to the new villain for the next couple of months: The Chameleon. Apparently we have a different kind of Chameleon. Whether this is the same Dmitri Smeardyakov Kravinoff from regular Marvel or someone new, this antagonist has the added bonus of tasering his victims into submission. Obviously Bendis is taking reference from the time that Chameleon held Jameson captive for several months while he assumed his identity. Truth be told, the characterization of “Jameson” threw me, too. The dude’s ALWAYS cranky and crotchety, and last I checked he supported Spider-Man’s exploits, and still treated people like dirt. Still, who buys a trench coat with fur? Who does he think he is, Orson Wells? Anyway, something tells me Bendis threw him in to put an end to the cops-love-spidey motif that’s been carrying on for the past ten issues. Personally, it’d be bittersweet. Seeing him actually get some support in and out of costume has been a good turnaround for the ultimate teenage loner and underdog. When you invest in a character so much you want to feel ecstatic when things finally turn around for them. But I admit that the character’s appeal has always been his ability to continue saving the people that prefer to spit in his eye while he’s doing it. The only complaint I have are the morphing effects. It just felt too subdued. While creepy seeing a blank face, it could have been visually achieved a lot better, David.
Overall, while not as emotional as the past couple of issues, This story has the makings of a great turning point for Spidey’s world. Will we see the “Threat or Menace?” status quo return, albeit on a digital stage? Who can say? Either way the cliffhanger is great and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Rating: 4 out of 5 Webs

Cover: 1 out of 5 Webs
Another difference between this issue and last issue: RELEVANCE!!! While a shock factor to say the least – especially considering Peter’s spider-strength compared to Jonah’s chair – this confrontation never takes place. It’s ridiculous and completely out of character for both players. Peter has never been beaten so badly he’s been reduced to tears. (And Brad I know you said to choose a shot of the cover with the logo but this was the only one available on Google. I’ll try for next time. No worries.)

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