Ultimate Comics: Spider-man #13 Review


Writer: Brian Michael Bendis

Art: David LaFluente
Colors: Justin Ponsor
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit

Now in Peter’s Spider-Man costume and web-shooters, Chameleon muses about Parker’s genius and stupidity as he attempts to learn how to swing on webs…and fails numerous times despite the mutant growth hormones in his system. Elsewhere, Peter Parker wakes up to J. Jonah Jameson, the both of them tied down to chairs facing each other. Both are unaware of where they are. Jameson swears it wasn’t him that attacked Peter in the parking lot, then questions him as to why he was also abducted. Then he puts two and two together and figures out Peter’s secret; Peter warns him to keep it to himself in case whoever abducted them is listening.  Given that he can’t break free of his bonds, they both figure out they’ve been drugged. Jonah continues to dwell on his inability to see that Spider-Man was working under his nose and Peter’s anger escalates.
Meanwhile, Captain Quaid and the NYPD investigate a hostage situation at a bank. To his shock and disappointment, “Spider-Man,” carrying large duffel bags of money, assaults and defeats the cops and makes a clean getaway. Chameleon calls his collaborator requesting an update on their “social experiment.” The recipient, concealed in shadows, reports how much eavesdropping has revealed…just what they already know, albeit that JJJ is now in on the secret. Chameleon encourages his partner to turn on the news and see the report on Spider-Man’s skirmish with the law, officially making this the worst day in the kid’s life. However, they require more information, so Chameleon advises to kill Jameson in a way that it gets Peter to reveal it.
Back in the warehouse, Peter’s still trying to shut Jameson up when the door opens. Chameleon’s mystery partner appears and puts a gun to Jonah’s head, despite Peter playing dumb. A light comes on, and the individual is revealed to be a shapely woman…with no face. She reveals she and her brother are chameleons, and demonstrates by assuming Jameson’s face. Peter struggles to break free. He hears a few ropes break…but it’s too late. Saying it’s for his benefit, Chameleon-girl shoots Jonah at the side of the head. Then, to add insult to injury, she assumes Peter’s face and asks for more information on “The Amazing Spider-Man.”
At the Parker house, Gwen (in tears), May, Johnny, and Bobby watch the news report on Spider-Man and all are in agreement: That is NOT Peter Parker. May says the no-costume rule is set aside until they can bring Peter home to her.
TO BE CONTINUED…

LIKES:

  • mirror image of how the last issue began
  • Chameleon unleashes Hell on Peter’s life
  • the interplay between Jonah and Peter
  • Bagley homage
  • Chameleon-Girl shocker
  • Improved art

DISLIKES:

  • the repetitive dialogue
  • the creepy factor with Chameleon girl
  • J Jonah Jameson DEAD?!

ADDITIONAL NOTES:

It’s official now: Ultimate Spider-Man’s “threat or menace” rep is back in full effect thanks to Chameleon. Or should I say ChameleonS. I’m surprised Bendis took this route with a villain known for being a bastard son-turned-spy with connections to Kraven the Hunter. Honestly I thought that WAS Kraven on the other end. But instead…a CHICK?! With the same powers?! Who would have seen THAT coming?! But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s do this in order like usual.
Lafuente’s art here was spot on. The opening sequences featuring Chameleon trying to learn how to web sling were hilarious; I doubt the readers objected to seeing this world-class ass taking a few licks for what he’s done to Peter’s perfect life. Bendis made a good move starting the issue with mirrored dialogue to the opening of #12. The phone conversation with Chameleon-girl later on in the issue revealed much about these characters’ personalities: self-indulgent, pervasive, morally ambiguous, arrogant, self-oriented…everything that Peter is not. Which makes it interesting when Chameleon notes he just pulled what Peter should have done when he became Spider-Man. It’s an example that it’s not the powers that make a hero in Marvel; it’s the man behind the mask. It’s these traits that make it all the more heartbreaking to watch as he proceeds to tear down Spider-Man’s reputation just as he had Peter’s 10 hours before. Bendis’ and Lafuente’s idea to pay an homage to that classic splash by Bagley in Ultimate Spider-Man Vol. 1 # 7 – aka “Big-time superhero comin’ through!” – gets the exact same emotional reaction for me as Quaid’s. That sinking “Oh, #$*@” feeling. On that homage Lafuente really hits his stride. Of all the shots to get right, Dave, you hit one out of the park on that one. The page format – that homage on the top panel, and the stunned police below – was extremely effective for it captured the scope and seriousness of the situation. These guys have patted Spidey on the back for months, and probably were still star struck as Chameleon proceeded to pummel them. At this point, it’s unclear as to how far the bugger wants to take this charade, and even the reader is asking “What else can go wrong?” And then you get your answers as the scene shifts to the REAL Peter Parker. Finally. Peter’s initial reaction to Jameson is understandable; he just got beaten and tasered by a guy wearing ol’ Flattop’s face. However, Bendis’ characterization of JJJ in this scene strays away from type. In regular Marvel, doesn’t matter where Jonah is, he’s his usual loudmouthed, sometimes-foulmouthed, snarling, rampaging beast of a publisher. This version, however, seems more reserved, more inquisitive. As a former reporter myself, I do get Jonah’s mental processes as he tries to sort through the web – no pun intended – regarding the motive behind abducting a kid like Peter. While he’s a wealthy publisher, which is in itself a motive to be abducted. Parker’s an average 16-year-old webmaster and high school student from a middle class household. What could he possibly have to offer to the agenda of certified lunatics? Unless he had something of value. Or if he WAS someone of value under the surface. Realistically he takes a very large leap in deducing Peter’s identity, as is Peter’s panic in trying to keep that knowledge to himself. The panic only adds to the validation of  Jonah’s theory. This kid has something to hide, and the level of intensity Parker’s giving off just screams that he’s on-target. However, out of all the superheroes that are in Ultimate continuity, the fact that he attaches Spider-Man’s identity to Peter’s secret is a bias considering how long he has been a pain in the ass to the Webhead, his “new OJ,” before being converted. At this point, you don’t know whether this will change things for the better or the worse.
Now let’s get to the shock factors: a female Chameleon and Jonah being shot. Now, the Chameleon has always timelessly worked for someone; it’s part of his character, stemming from a childhood spent in servitude. But the idea that there is a brother and sister duo is as shocking as seeing Lafuente’s design of this woman. A shapely woman with a completely blank face is both erotic and disturbing. Her assuming Jonah’s face is VERY disturbing. On a metaphysical level, the lack of an identity entails a lack of moral and ethical foundation. A kill or be killed mentality. I liked the idea of Cham-girl assuming Peter’s face before pulling the trigger on Jonah. This preys upon Peter’s incredible sense of guilt that is inextricably linked to his sense of responsibility. This man’s life is in his hands and because of his secret seemingly loses his life. It’s a beautiful psychological scene that both writer and artist should be commended for.
Now on to the questionable elements. The death of J. Jonah Jameson? Would Brian really let go of Spider-Man’s greatest antagonist? We all know that by reputation, Bendis likes to take the source material and spins it in a different direction rather than stay on a pre-established course. Hell, that’s what Ultimate-verse is all about right? Just ask Ben Grimm who killed Doctor Doom at the end of Ultimatum. But JONAH?! Right after finally clearing his myopic viewpoint on Spider-Man he’s taken out?! Anyone else think Bendis went a little too far on this judgment call? Then there’s the Peter-Jonah banter session. I don’t know whether it was because they were both drugged, but their conversation was INCREDIBLY repetitive. “SHUT UP!” “Right under my very nose.” “SHUT UP!” “Right under my very nose.” “SHUT UP!” I’m with Parker on this one; someone change the freakin’ record! History’s proven you both have a a more extensive voabulary than this. Lastly, I don’t know where to go with this Chameleon-girl. Aside from the fact this lady really is sick, it might not be a good call to keep this one around. Chameleon works best when it’s just one guy. I am not sold on this brother-and-sister duo. Time will tell.
Overall, a lot of good points, and a lot of significant bad points. Promise the review for next ish won’t take too long.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Webs

Cover: 5 out of 5 Webs
I know this doesn’t show but come one…SPIDER-MAN WITH A GUN?! How is that not shocking?!
 

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