Ultimate Spider-Man #39

Background

The final project of Richard Parker and Ed Brock, Sr. was supposed to cure cancer. Instead, it turned Brock's son, Eddie, into a black hulking monster bent on the destruction of Richard's son, Peter.

Sans costume, our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man managed to defeat what was once his childhood friend, although the monster was seemingly destroyed in the melee. Emphasis on seemingly.

Story 'Man-To-Man'

"A recurring energy flux" in Nick Fury's immediate area interrupts the S.H.I.E.L.D. Director's dinner. Fury goes out into the alley to investigate. Activating a neato genetic paralysis device on his watch, who should drop off the wall but a costume-less Peter Parker? Apparently, the wall crawler has been tracking the leader of the world's top espionage organization for over an hour, a feat which impresses Fury.

Peter, devastated at the loss of Eddie, demands that Fury, who has known for some time that Peter is Spider-Man, take his powers away. Fury refuses and asks the angry youngster to explain himself. When Peter does, Fury radios Agent Carter that the "situation" is taken care of. The one-eyed wonder goes on to tell Peter that if there's no corpse, the guy's alive. Nevertheless, Peter demands that Fury take his powers away.

Nick Fury reassures the lad, encouraging him to ask himself if he made anyone else's life better today. If so, stop whining. If not, do better tomorrow. Peter lashes out, claiming Fury told him he was going to be his prisoner come his eighteenth birthday. Fury corrects him, saying that Peter will instead be working with The Ultimates. He encourages Peter to take some time off to get some perspective, and reminds him he's not responsible for everyone.

When Peter suggests that Fury might have been responsible for his parents' death, Fury says he was in college ten years ago...in India, and also that he's an orphan as well. The two shake hands as they part. But Fury warns Peter to make an appointment next time, or risk getting shot.

Peter decides to take responsibility and clean up his own mess by telling Eddie's roommate what happened. When he gets there, Eddie's roommate says he's moved out. Peter asks the roommate why he hates Eddie so much. The roommate explains Eddie's blatant lying, hitting on women, rage after getting constantly turned down and his penchant for leaving Cheet-o fingerprints all over the place.

Later that night, Peter heads to the E.S.U. lab to check on the sample that transformed Eddie. He finds two open, empty lockers and Doctor Connors behind him, enjoying a nightcap. Connors establishes that "Ray Parker's son" is Spider-Man and also the one who was wearing the suit. Connors promises to keep Peter's secret as long as Peter never reveals that Connors once transformed himself into The Lizard. The good Doctor tells Peter that the samples, the programs, and the files are all gone.

The drunken Connors then ruminates on this "horrible decade of genetic nightmares," seeing it as punishment from God. When he places Peter's father as the architect, Peter retorts saying his father's intentions were good. Connors responds that Einstein never tried to invent the atom bomb, but it happened. He finally passes out. Peter angrily leaves, but then his Spider-sense goes off on the rooftop. Peter shouts an apology and an offer for help out to Eddie, but Eddie is nowhere to be found.

General Comments

I wonder just how much of this epilogue was necessary. I thought the events of the six-issue Venom arc spoke for themselves. Was this afterthought really needed?

We get to see Peter interact with three men: Nick Fury, Eddie's roommate (whose name we never discover), and Doctor Curt Connors. The talk with Fury made sense, as Peter often rejected his powers, his curse, after traumatic events in his life. Also, the clarification that Peter would, once he's an adult, be working with the Ultimates gives Peter something to hope for, something to look forward to. The characterization is mostly consistent with what I've seen of Ultimate Nick Fury, although his alibi (college in India) seems baffling since it's been established in Ultimate X-Men that he served in Operation: Desert Storm over 12 years ago. Again, Bendis confuses the issue when he uses other people's characters.

Eddie's roommate basically establishes what we already know: that Eddie was a jerk long before he touched any black liquid. We know for sure that Eddie's alive, out there somewhere, but did you really need to waste 3 pages on it? Although, wouldn't it be funny if the guy turned out to be Randy Robertson?

Ultimate Curt Connors intrigues me. It makes sense for this tormented character to be driven to drink. His little thesis on the decade of monsters is still just a rehash of the themes of the past arc.

The art is fine. Bagley gets an extra half a web for deciding on Nick Fury's facial features, as opposed to the shifting mess that was Fury's first appearance in this title. But the story seemed like so much filler, so many rehashed themes. The writing is fine.

Overall Rating

This wasn't a bad issue by any means, just an unnecessary one. Two webs for using the Venom momentum instead of starting a new story or at least a cool one-shot, and that extra half I promised Bagley for deciding what Nick Fury looks like and sticking with it. Let's hope the story moves on.