Ultimate Spider-Man #33

Background

The Spider-Man imposter, who took the life of Gwen's father, Police Captain George Stacy, tried to take hostages in another daring bank robbery, only to be foiled by, of all people, the REAL Spider-Man. Our young hero beat the imposter to within an inch of his life, only to discover this fraud is just some street punk.

Orphaned by her father, abandoned by her mother, and forsaken by her few remaining relatives, Gwen Stacy found a home when May Parker graciously opened her home to her.

When Peter told his girlfriend, Mary Jane Watson, it was the straw that broke the camel's back. The demands of being confidant and girlfriend to the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, coupled with her growing jealousy of Gwen and adverse home conditions, proved too much to bear.

And so, Mary broke up with Peter.

Story 'Origins'

Lamenting the loss of Mary Jane, Peter Parker is wallowing in his basement (and his sorrows) when he stumbles onto a hidden door in his basement. The secret room is full of boxes labeled "Parker". Inside, he finds pictures of...his parents, and also a video tape.

Peter finds his way upstairs with the tape while Aunt May reminisces to Gwen about the time she proposed to Jimi Henrdix (albeit, she was on the scaffolding at the time). In his room, Peter pops in the tape. Taken many years back, it features a young Peter with his parents, Uncle Ben, Aunt May, May's sister,and May's husband and son...Ed Brock Senior and Junior, respectively.

Turns out Brock, Sr. and "Ray" (?) Parker (let's just call him Peter's dad) were genetic researchers collaborating on a project (which we later find out is called "The Venom Project") that could have changed the face of modern medicine. Brock wants to hire a publicist, but Mary Parker (Peter's mom) says it won't do any good at their current stage. Peter's dad suggests they wait until Phase II of the project before talking about press. In the background, we see that Peter and Brock, Jr. (who looks a few years older than Peter), were best buddies in their youth.

Fast forward to today, Aunt May, it turns out, was watching the tape with Peter. A bit shaken since she didn't expect to see Ben, she explains the tape to Peter and reveals that both little Eddie and Peter's parents died in the same tragic plane crash. May suggests that Peter track down Eddie, who went to live with his grandparents after the crash, and give him a copy of the tape. Peter does so, and discovers that Eddie now goes to Empire State University.

Peter goes to E.S.U. to meet with Eddie, in awe and anticipating taking in all the college scenery. After meeting "the short end of the roommate stick," Eddie and Peter go out for some coffee. Eddie imparts the wisdom of his extra years to Peter, which is basically a frank stating of the academic, financial, and romantic difficulties in going to college to pursue his father's dream, spoken with just a tinge of bitterness. On hearing about Peter's recent breakup, Eddie tells him that, five years from then, Peter won't even remember her name.

When the conversation shifts to their parents, Eddie laments that it's hard to remember his parents, when Peter presents him the tape. Citing it as "about the nicest thing anyone has ever done" for him, Eddie takes Peter to a lab in the Reed Richards Science Center on campus. He opens a refrigerated locker containing a large beaker of black goo. When Peter asks what it is, Eddie answers: "It's our inheritance."

General Comments

See, you don't need Secret Wars,fancy alien costumes, or MacFarlane's pencils to tell a decent Venom story!

I like this window into Peter's past. Rather than some disgruntled reporter, Eddie Brock turns out to be another nephew of Aunt May, who probably wasn't as lucky in life as Peter's been thus far. Eddie's clearly just a little bitter about his past, but just as dedicated in his work. One issue into this storyline, it is well established that Peter and Eddie are mirrors towards each other, and at the same time their fathers' sons.

And the videotape sequence into the past gives us a clear image of Peter's father, who is apparently (possibly nick)named "Ray", and he looks a lot like the way Mark Bagley drew the adult Peter back in the core titles. I mention this because there's also a difference in the way Bagley draws Ultimate Peter now, as opposed to when the series started. Shorter hair makes him look more adult, and it's nice to see the passage of time acknowledge in as timeless a medium as comic books.

Extra points for "quantity over quality" amounts of both May and Gwen Stacy in this issue, not to mention the complete absence of Mary Jane Watson, as is normal this soon after most breakups. Still, I must make deductions for the unexplained "Ray" name for Peter's dad, and also for one panel of the art where it's hard to distinguish Peter from May.

Overall Rating

This month, I have a unique standard with with to judge this book. You see, my car broke down twice in the process of getting it, leaving me stranded and locked out in the right lane of a busy intersection. I went to a lot of trouble to get this book, and, as such, I'm a bit more harsh in judging its imperfections. Still, Bendis's rendition of the Venom origin story, which now ties into the Origin story of Peter Parker and NOT Spider-Man (who isn't seen AT ALL in this issue), is the best one out there...so far.