Ultimate Spider-Man #114

Background

Norman Osborn has escaped the Triskelion, along with several other super- powered villains. He immediately runs to the press and informs the American public that he has been betrayed by Nick Fury and unlawfully imprisoned. Peter Parker, aka Spider-Man, catches the news while on a date with his girlfriend, Mary Jane Watson.

Story Details

  Ultimate Spider-Man #114
Arc: Part 3 of 'Death Of A Goblin' (1-2-3-4-5-6)

Mary Jane runs off in utter horror at the news that Norman Osborn is a free man. Peter tries to console her. The last time Mary Jane confronted Osborn, he threw her off a bridge (Ultimate Spider-Man #25). Peter talks down Mary Jane from her frenzied state. Peter theorizes that Osborn wreaks havoc on his loved ones because he's bonkers. Osborn's interview continues to be broadcast as MJ and Peter listen in. He claims that Nick Fury put the Goblin persona inside of him as some form of perverse punishment. Mary Jane simply cannot believe that Osborn is allowed to get away with lying. Peter makes a move to warn Aunt May of Osborn's freedom. MJ and Peter embrace each other.

Peter and MJ arrive at the Parker residence already finding a car parked in the driveway. MJ fears that it is Osborn but Peter reminds her he is on TV. MJ's mom hurriedly pulls up and demands she get in the car for her own safety from Osborn. Peter gives his permission for her to leave. He wants MJ to be safe and removed from the inevitable confrontation with Osborn. Then, Peter walks in on Aunt May sharing her couch with one Dr. Miles Warren, her new beau (making his first visual appearance in the Ultimate universe). Peter demands that he talk to his Aunt in private. He informs May that Osborn is on the loose and she needs to go to a safe place. Their private conversation is interrupted by Warren who tells them that he has to leave due to a medical emergency regarding one of his patients. After Warren exits, May expresses anger that she can no longer protect her young nephew. It is now Peter that protects her. May gets a few of her things and leaves the Parker residence, leaving Peter alone with his thoughts.

Later that night, Peter dons his Spider-Man costume and patrols the city for Osborn. He makes a quick stop at the Osborn residence, hoping that he might still be there. There is evidence of someone living at the residence; however, Spider- Man shockingly discovers that it is not Osborn but the super-villain Electro! Spider-Man makes a quick quip about Electro's lack of clothes and the flummoxed villain responds with a potty-mouth.

Meanwhile, S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Carol Danvers is still searching for Osborn. She is informed of a battle taking place at his former residence. Spider-Man proceeds to battle a fully charged up Electro. However, Electro does not seem as if he wants to fight Spider-Man. He leaves through a large window while Spider-Man pursues. Spidey makes a few more hilarious quips about Electro's unfortunate lack of attire. He only succeeds in irritating Electro more. They trade a few blows until Electro manages to zap Spider-Man into a storefront window. Before Electro can follow up on his attack an S.H.I.E.L.D. contingent opens fire on the super-villain. Electro bravely fights back but it is clear that he is overmatched. Spider-Man helps by wrapping up a stray car wheel with his webbing and whacking Electro with the proportionate strength of a spider. He teases Electro that the fight is over. Electro goes down defiantly screaming that he will kill everyone. Spider-Man lets down his guard near the prone figure of his arch-nemesis but the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents want him to surrender as well. They take Spider-Man down before he can escape the battle scene. Later, Peter wakes up with his mask off in a holding cell. No one is there to greet him.

General Comments

Bendis is known as the master of de-compressed story-telling. His deliberate style is what has kept Peter Parker from barely aging. However Bendis brings the goods on this particularly fast-paced and exhilarating issue. We're treated to three distinct plot-lines. The first scene between Peter and MJ establishes that Peter is not taking any chances with his loved ones safety. This in itself is sort of refreshing. I doubt we're going to get the overused "MJ in peril" sequence by the end of this arc. The scene also proved that Peter is truly in love with MJ despite his dalliance with Kitty Pryde of the Ultimate X-Men. Bendis writes the exchange with a subtle sense of maturity for Peter. He truly is taking responsibility by ordering MJ and May to hide from Osborn.

The second scene shows us the long-awaited debut of Miles Warren. I'd frankly forgotten about him over the past several issues as Bendis has only occasionally deigned to make Warren's presence known. Bendis really doesn't deviate too much from the 616 incarnation of Warren. He's sort of creepy but easily comes across as a trustable chap. Bendis is obviously playing with our knowledge of how the 616 Warren turned out in order to create doubt in the reader's mind about his true intentions. Will he turn into the Jackal? The jury is still out on that one but hopefully Bendis will at least make it fresh and something that we have not already seen before.

The third act is a thrilling action sequence. However, what we get is not the Green Goblin but Electro. It remains to be seen just exactly why Electro is hiding out at Norman's house but the throw down between him and Spider-Man was great. I always appreciate it when a writer takes the pains to include villains we haven't seen awhile even if they won't be a central presence in the overall scheme of the story (as this is clearly a Goblin-centric tale). Special acclaim should be given to colorist Justin Ponsor. Electro's powers are beautifully rendered against the dark hues of the scenery. All one has to do is look at the cover to see how talented Ponsor is at his job. The battle scene is also noteworthy for the terrific Spidey banter. Clever use of Peter's wise-ass cracks during battle is always appreciated especially after the melodrama that engulfed the title with the Clone Saga (not to mention the "Murderous Spider-Man" over in the Amazing title). The battle repartee presented in this issue really makes Peter sound and act like the sixteen year old he is presented as by Bendis.

A final note about the switch from Mark Bagley to Stuart Immonen...for 111 issues we were given the fantastic scribblings of Bagley on a bi-monthly basis, nary a delay. This is indeed rare in an age where artists are frequently confined to a one and done arc on a particular character, no matter how well-received it is by fans. Bagley's run harkened back to Marvel's days of yore where Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, et al. basically defined the Marvel Universe with extended runs on multiple books. Now that Bagley is gone, his presence is dearly missed. No, it is not because Stuart Immonen is a hack artist...far from it. The reality is that Bagley's extended run has defined Ultimate Spider-Man for so many fans, especially the readers from the very beginning. I liken it to a long-term relationship that ends without warning. You're simply in utter shock and in a state of denial. Immonen is going to have a tough time getting readers comfortable with the artistic style change. However, he is a fantastic penciler with a unique abstract approach that should suit the publishing demands and tone of Ultimate Spider-Man.

Overall Rating

Bendis's plot called for the action and he and Immonen delivered with some fantastic dialogue and visuals. I'm really not sure how they're going to proceed with the Electro and Miles Warren characters but Norman Osborn is his old delightfully icky, evil self.

Footnote

Miles Warren was first mentioned as Aunt May's love interest all the way back in Ultimate Spider-Man #94.

You may be wondering what I am doing considering that Ultimate Spider-Man's reviews have been largely done by the stupendous Mr. Peter Kroon. Peter gave up the title and bequeathed the legacy to me. I am really honored to undertake Ultimate Spider-Man and I hope that fans of Peter stay on for the ride with me. Peter's first review of this title was way back with Ultimate Spider-Man #65!