Ultimate Spider-Man #40

Background

Some time ago, Mary Jane dumped Peter because she couldn't handle being Spider-Man's girlfriend.

And since things always go from bad to worse in Peter's life, he ends up losing an old friend...and his costume...to the nightmare that is Venom.

Story 'Average Bear'

Peter goes to a sporting goods store looking for something to replace his Spider-Man costume. After a funny little exchange with the clerk, Peter returns to the rooftop on the way to class, ruminating on his lack of options in replacing his costume. His mind turns to Mary Jane, briefly, and then back to the costume. In class, Peter's and MJ's teacher talks about the opportunity of an in-school news program available to students with good grades. In the wake of this boring news, MJ notices the troubled look on Peter's face. "Notes" are passed back and forth, until the teacher finds out and reads the notes aloud in class, much to Peter and MJ's collective chagrin.

After class, Peter calls up the wrestling company he worked for early in his career as Spider-Man. When he tries to ask about costuming, the promoter tells him they don't represent him, and he hangs up. Flash Thompson asks Peter for a minute to talk, and then the embarrassed, costume-less hero finally tells his long-time bully off, although it seemed Flash legitimately wanted to talk.

That night, a woman is chased into an alley by a generic-enough gang of street hoodlums. Spider-Man, with his mask and red and blue sweats, thwarts them, spectacular Spider-wit intact. But the Parker luck strikes, and Peter loses the lens of his mask in the battle.

The self-proclaimed "smartest person in Queens" looks for ways to fix his costume, but is interrupted by Gwen, who's been living with Peter and Aunt May for some time. She wants Peter to come with her to some party (it turns out she wants to be liked by others, even though she hates pretty much everyone), an idea that Peter isn't even remotely interested in.

They go anyway.

As expected, Peter is having a horrible time. Bad to worse: MJ is there, now raven-haired and in a skimpy outfit totally inappropriate and thus fashionable to a girl her age. More miserable than ever, Peter and Gwen decide to leave when...

BOOM! Everyone rushes outside to see a lone figure standing outside the wreckage of a burning car. Chanting "Geldoff," the teens implore him to blow up another empty car. Geldoff charges up, setting off Peter's Spider-Sense, and blows up another car, much to the delight of his audience. Peter's and Geldoff's eyes meet, and he looks none too happy.

General Comments

Hard luck. Costume woes. Girl trouble. Stunning ex-girlfriend. Disrepectful street punks. And Gwen Stacy. These things a good Spider-Man issue make.

Nothing is going right for Peter. Which means everything is going right so far for Bendis's new story arc. Ultimate Peter finally sounds, acts, and thinks pretty much like his older, mainstream Marvel equivalent. Let's run through the checklist, shall we? 1) He had an awkward interaction with a sporting goods store clerk. 2) He got embarrassed by a teacher. 3) He mouthed off at Flash. 4) He is unable to secure a new Spider-Man costume. 5) Because he is unable to secure a new Spider-Man costume, the crooks disrespect him, and he's forced to rely on classic "yo' mama" cracks. 6)He is dragged to some party, whereby he sees his old girlfriend out on the market. 7) Just as he disposed of an old menace, it looks like he'll have to deal with a new one.

The art enhances the storytelling. Bagley is great at drawing facial expressions, and the one-page splash of MJ reminds us that she is, indeed, a fox.

From what I've heard, Geldoff is the first villan in Ultimate Spider-Man NOT to have roots in the mainstream universe. Just as well, since it seems the scope of this story will be in high school, where Ultimate Spider-Man belongs. But what's going on with Flash? Will MJ's new look secure her a new beau? Why was Gwen so eager to go to that party in the first place? Stay tuned! Same Ultimate Spider-Time, Same Ultimate Spider-Channel!

Overall Rating

It looks, reads, and feels just like a classic Spider-Man story, but with a brand-spanking-new villain. After that ghastly epilogue in the last issue, this one got me all jazzed up about reading...and reviewing... this title again. Any less than 4 webs would be criminal, and any more would be...well, hype.