Ultimate Spider-Man #42

Background

Here's the skinny.

Peter and Mary Jane: Back together.

Geldoff: foreign guy from nearby school who blows up cars by looking at them, seemingly for kicks.

Spider-Man costume: trashed.

Makeshift Half of a Spidey-Costume Sewn By MJ: Sure sign that Peter's gonna have a bad day at "the office."

Story 'Temptation'

Peter follows police cars onto the scene of Geldoff's high school, where the mysterious lad is blowing up cars again. Peter, who would rather be making out with MJ, reminds himself to try not to get his butt handed to him like he usually does in these first encounters.

Spider-Man webs up Geldoff's hands and tells him to knock it off. Geldoff seems star-struck. When the cops finally arrive, Spidey decides to split, but Geldoff holds on, knowing the cops will have him deported if they catch him.

The two end up on a nearby rooftop when Spider-Man asks why Geldoff was blowing up cars. It turns out the young man was just trying to fit in with the cool kids. Geldoff demonstrates his power, whereby he focuses on something, oh, let's say, a barrel, and makes it explode. When Spidey suggests Geldoff may be a mutant, Geldoff insists vociferously that he is not one of the "devil's children."

When asked about his accent, Geldoff explains that he is an orphan from Latveria. Spidey suggests Geldoff use his powers for something more than fame. The heart-to-heart is interrupted by a nearby holdup. Spidey web-swings off to investigate, and has no problem humiliating and dispatching the baddies (in superhero masks, ironically). No problem, that is, until their getaway van spontaneously explodes.

No...not spontaneously. That idiot Geldoff risked lives by blowing it up. Spidey smacks the young Latverian, resolving to take him off to the cops, when Geldoff threatens to blow Spidey up the way he did those cars. He looks serious enough, the exchange is interrupted by Marvel Girl, Kitty Pryde, and Storm of the Ultimate X-Men.

General Comments

Interesting idea Brian Bendis has here. Bendis makes his brand-spanking new villain a kid, not unlike Peter, granted with great power. However, Geldoff seems to lack Peter's sense of responsibility and has thus turned his gift into a quick ticket to popularity.

Peter Parker...and certainly Ultimate Peter Parker...is very much still in high school and it's cool to see him have an exchange with this endearing enough, but deadly peer. If nothing else, it's a nice change of pace from symbiotes, insane industrialists, slighted scientists, and the superstitious, cowardly lot Peter usually has to contend with.

But what really makes it work is Bendis' gift for realistic-sounding teen dialogue, most effectively demonstrated last issue, which featured a love letter that really sounded like it was written by a fifteen year old girl. Here, we see another high school pariah, albeit one from another country. This really does sound like a wounded kid who can't see past himself to the consequences.

But the X-Men cameo has me wary, since Bendis doesn't have a great track record using the out-of-title Ultimate characters. Clearly, Kitty Pryde's costume is based on Adam Kubert's (Ultimate X-Men) preliminary sketches, and I've yet to see Kitty wear that costume in an actual issue of the title (In fact, the star of David was the only reason I knew it was Kitty). But, since these characters are now Bendis's, I guess we will soon enough.

Mark Bagley draws great car wreckage. Just thought I'd point that out.

Overall Rating

It's a good read, albeit a middle chapter. But the X-Men cameo has me wary. Let's see where this thing goes.