This April will see the release of Ultimate Spider-Man #200. A series which Brian Michael Bendis and a plethora of the industries top artists have been working on since 2000.
To celebrate this milestone, the Crawlspace has been counting down our top ten Ultimate Spider-Man moments. In part two we are counting down the top five.
If your favourite moment is not here, check out our previous list to see what moments have already been placed.
Now get ready for…
5. The Ultimate Spin
Peter and Mary Jane were coupled up very earlier in Bendis’ first Ultimate Spider-Man series. When they broke up Marvel began to tease Peter’s next romantic entanglement. Gwen Stacey, who had recently been introduced to the series, was the obvious front runner, but the blacked out silhouette on the teaser image for Ultimate Spider-Man Annual #1, suggested a superhero love connection.
In the annual Peter is invited to the Mall by the X-Men’s Kitty Pryde. This move was the first significant step by Marvel to demonstrate how the Ultimate Universe was different from the main books they published. Spider-Man began dating one of the X-Men, and their relationship spanned both titles for several months, and the consequences of which are still in play today.
Regardless of how obviously it ended, the couples first date is a charming read, as they discuss their lives, their foes, quote Indiana Jones to each other, and even team-up to defeat the Shocker. This issue set up a storyline, which both series benefited from and that elevated Ultimate Kitty Pryde into the A-list of the Ultimate heroes.
4. Two of a Kind
In Part 1, Daniel Kibler mentioned in the comments his liking of the Ultimate Clone Saga. Apart from being maybe an issue too long, I really enjoyed this version as well, and compared to the length of the original I can forgive running over by an issue. Throughout the story Peter and those closest to him where being harassed by misguided versions of Spider-Man.
While desperately trying to find MJ and save his family, Peter is hounded by Nick Fury of S.H.I.E.L.D, who blames him for the whole thing. Peter teams up with his more understanding clone, Jessica, to go rescue MJ from one of his less likeable doubles. While subduing the other Clones, Peter and Jessica come face to face with the name who has ruined their lives, Doctor Octopus: Government Employee.
Otto was hired to design a new breed of super solider, and used Peter’s blood to achieve this. Fury, who had been ordered to protect Otto, decides to leave him alone with the angry Spiders, and let them settle it. In a double page spread, Peter and his female counterpart deliver a long needed punch that floors Otto and ends the Clone Saga.
The audience cheers.
3. One Night Only, Tip your Waitress
Spider-Man is funny. I think if any Spider-Man fan was asked to name one thing missing from Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man, 99% would probably say “he wasn’t funny enough”.
That has never been a problem for Bendis’s Spider-Man. In New Avengers Spider-Man is used largely for comedy purposes, and in Ultimate Spider-Man we get a consistent stream of quips to keep us laughing as we read. Bendis set his stall out early in the series, and showed us his Spider-Man was not just about teen angst. In issue #12 Spider-Man comes face to face with Wilson Fisk, the Kingpin of Crime, and he is not afraid to speak him mind.
“You are so fat — that when you cut yourself shaving…Marshmallow fluff comes out”.
“Ooh — tough room”
“Your belly button makes an echo”
Spider-Man reads from little cards, so doesn’t forgot anything, but really the whole skit is an act to push Fisk’s buttons. It works perfectly as Fisk lunges at Spider-Man and gets a face full of webbing for his trouble. As Fisk struggles to free himself , Spider-Man leaves with all the evidence he needs ruin the Kingpin of Crime.
2. The Beach Party
In Ultimate Spider-Man #118 the main cast from Midtown high, plus a few of the X-Men kids and Johnny Storm take a late night trip to the beach. At the end of the issue Liz Allen freaks out and bursts into flames. Liz’s hundred issue or so anger towards mutants suffers a heavy dose of dramatic irony, as she discovers she herself is a mutant.
Issue #119 deals with the fallout from this scene. Liz runs away as the teenagers are left gawking. Johnny Storm and Iceman chase after Liz to try and calm her down and make sure she’s safe. Kong aka Kenny, Peter’s usually oblivious classmate, then turns to Peter and asks him to use his “expertise” to help their lifelong friend through this crisis. Peter plays dumb, as Kenny reveals not only does he know Peter’s secret, he’s willing to play along if it means Peter can help Liz. After Kenny’s brilliant scripted monologue about the overused conceit of superhero fiction, Peter runs from the scene, without hesitation. The determined resolution on his face is perfectly captured by Stuart Immonen.
The scene flies in the face of what we expect from super hero comics, the supporting cast are not meant to figure out the most obvious secrets of our heroes. Though really Kenny has been collecting clues for a while, most notably in Ultimate Spider-Man #14 and #65. This is a very cathartic moment for long time readers, who had long wondered what Kenny really knows.
1. Peter and Jonah
There are a lot of great moments in Ultimate Spider-Man. Before I discuss what I’ve chosen as the top moment, I wanted to make a quick reference to some I was not able to discuss in more detail, particularly, the Battle Royal against the Enforces and Electro (issue #12), the moment the long humiliated Shocker is able to turn the tables on Spider-Man (issue #112), Peter’s confession to MJ (issue #13) and practically ever moment from the Spider-Men series. Any and all of these moments are worth talking about, as they are part of what made this series so enjoyable for 14 years.
However, the scene I have chosen as the top Ultimate Spider-Man moment is from issue #155 of Volume 1 of Ultimate Comics Spider-Man. After saving J. Jonah Jameson in the previous story arc, Peter is invited to the Daily Bugle to meet with the Publisher. During the last arc Jonah learned the truth about his former web designer, and Peter was more than a little nervous to pay him a visit.
When he arrives at Jonah’s office there is a tense atmosphere, illustrated by Chris Samnee, whose use of shadow only exasperates Peter’s nervous energy. The relationship between JJJ and Spider-Man in the Ultimate Universe has never been so different from that of their regular counterparts, but in this scene the two get to have a frank conversation the likes of which their counterparts will never have. Or at least never remember having. Jonah admits “I have met drug dealers and kings and everything in between. But I never met anyone like you”. I think this statement summarises the fifty year history of these two characters. Jonah can not understand someone who lives as selflessly as Spider-Man does, and because of that he feels it’s his responsibility, as someone who knows this secret, to reward Peter. He has finally realised Spider-Man is not a threat or a menace, but just a kid trying to do the right thing.
While this scene is a great character moment for Jonah, it also shows what’s great about Peter Parker. He reveals to Jonah his desire to save for college, and insists he pay his own way. Peter refuses handouts, and just asks Jonah for his $2 an hour job back, and the freedom to come and go as his alter-ego requires. This surprises Jonah even further, who insists he start a scholarship for him. After a long, and antagonistic relationship the two finally understand each other, and have found a way to co-exist.
The moment ends perfectly, as Jonah reverts to form and sends Peter on his way so he can get back to work. It’s a shame this new dynamic was not given more time to breath before Peter died, as it would have been interesting to see how their new relationship would have functioned. However in Jonah’s few appearance since this issue he has continued to honour Peter’s memory by turning away Betty Brant when she tried to sell Miles’ identity to the Bugle.
As I’ve said, these are but a few moments that helped to make Ultimate Spider-Man an entertaining series. If I’ve not mentioned your favourite please mention it in the comments section. I’ll take any excuse to pull out my old battered trades and reread these stories.
Ultimate Spider-Man will return with issue #200 in a April, before the saga continues in May when the series relaunches as Miles Morales: The Ultimate Spider-Man. Awesome.