Ultimate Spider-Man #43

Background

Spider-Man swings off into action in an ill-fitting half-costume crafted by Mary Jane, with whom he's recently reconciled. It turns out that Geldoff, a super-powered teen that Peter first encountered at a party, is up to old tricks and blowing up cars at his school.

Remembering all the times he's gotten his butt kicked in first encounters, Peter decides to try to talk Geldoff down instead. He discovers that young Geldoff his a mutant-phobic Latverian orphan, who's more concerned with using his powers for popularity than for common good.

When Geldoff endangers lives by blowing up a vehicle, Spider-Man is fed up and threatens to take him back to the cops. Geldoff, in turn, threatens to blow up Spider-Man the way he did those cars. This stand- off is interrupted by none other than Jean Grey, Storm, and Kitty Pryde of the X-Men.

Story 'Help'

Meanwhile, back at Midtown High, Peter's chemistry teacher notes his absence after Mary Jane does a poor job of covering for him. Suddenly, an announcement comes on the public address system that, due to Geldoff incident at a nearby highschool, that Midtown would be closing early, leaving Kong and Gwen elated, but MJ worried.

At the sight of the three mutant beauties, Geldoff faints. Kitty reveals that she's a huge Spider-Man fan...but not quite that she totally has a crush on him. Jean has a telepathic conversation with Peter, which leaves him understandably spooked. Jean commends Spider- Man for trying to take care of the situation peacefully, which is, at the core, what the X-Men are trying to do as well. Jean also congratulates Peter on being the first guy who didn't instanty picture Jean naked, which, of course, prompts Peter to picture Jean naked. Geldoff wakes, but faints again when Jean talks to him telepathically.

The X-Men reveal that they suspect Geldoff is a mutant, but aren't completely sure. They consider taking him to the school, when Professor Xavier appears psychically and settles the issue. Kitty invites Spider-Man to the school, which he accepts, provided they can get him back by six.

Back at Midtown, MJ gets the story of what happened from two girls. All they know is that Spider-Man showed up and then the cops showed up and then they dismissed school over there. MJ's mom shows up and embarrasses her in typical mom fashion. Aunt May then shows up asking for Peter. MJ says Peter was just there, which Gwen immediately refutes, leaving MJ in a fix.

On the Blackbird (X-Men's plane), Spidey and the girls are discussing how he lost his costume, which leads to talk about their costumes. A tie in to events in Ultimate X-Men comes when Jean asks Prof X if there's been any contact from Wolverine, who Spidey admits he knows. Geldoff wakes up again and panics, blowing up part of the plane.

May tried calling the Bugle for Peter, whereby Ben Urich transfers her to Betty Brant, who hangs up on everyone's favorite auntie.

The plane rips open and starts to lose altitude when Peter and Geldoff fall out. Storm, who commands the winds, is left with the cliffhanger choice of whether to try and save them or guide the Blackbird to safety.

General Comments

Great back-and-forth banter between Spidey and the X-Girls. There's a definite chemistry there, and Bendis takes full advantage of it. Normally, I always cringe a bit when Bendis takes on other people's characters and applies their 616 personalities to their Ultimate selves, but since he's now writing X-Men anyway, these ARE what Jean, Ororo, and Kitty sound like. What's more, he keeps the conversation grounded enough for Ultimate Spider-Man by using his gift for teen dialogue to remind us that the three are really just teenage girls (albeit, I believe Jean and Storm are about 19 in the Ultimate Universe). And Kitty's crush on Spidey is a cute little piece of realism.

Poor Geldoff has taken a back seat both figuratively and literally here. The interesting, unknown-to-616 (note: 616 is a nickname I picked up for the mainstream Marvel Universe) villan is left with little to do in this issue but faint and put everyone in danger. Oh well.

Seeing MJ's mom was great, even if she sounds like every other mother of a teenager I've ever met. That's the point, I reckon. The otherworldiness of dismissing school due to a mutant attack and super- powered teens flying around in a jet is grounded by these few precious panels.

And you gotta love the phone transfer bit between Aunt May and the Bugle crew, who haven't graced these pages since the "Just A Guy" issue.

I daresay Bagley draws better X-Men than Kubert. Let's hope new Ultimate X-Artist David Finch does them this kind of justice.

Overall Rating

This is what a crossover should be, ladies and gentlemen. Like I said, I don't like the enigmatic Geldoff was forced into the background, and that's too bad, because it cost this gabby-but-goodie a web in my book.

Sadly, this issue will have to settle for four. It's a good read as usual, so go out and buy it! So, until Chris Claremont starts writing Ultimate Spider-Man, make mine Marvel!