Ultimate Spider-Man #121

Background

Recently, Liz Allen was revealed to be a mutant. After she joined the X-Men, life has returned to normal for Peter Parker & Co. Kitty and Peter have been assigned an animatronic baby for a class assignment. The exes are now forced to engage in parental duties if they want a good grade. Several months ago, Spider-Man encountered an albino mutant codenamed Omega Red. This assassin was connected to the Roxxon Corporation.

Story Details

We join our cast of characters midway through a class presentation. Kitty and Peter are none too pleased to report their experiences as parents. It seems as if Peter "killed" their baby. The teacher wants an explanation...

Peter proceeds to recount his whopper of a story. A day ago, Peter leaves a treat inside Mary Jane's locker. They express how weird it is that Liz is no longer at the high school. Kitty comes up to them. The ex-X-Man is shocked that Liz willingly joined the Xavier Institute. She angrily takes the baby from Peter's hands and storms off. Mary Jane makes a wisecrack.

Peter then tells of the guidance counselor who came to class. Harry's recent tragic demise is brought up (see Ultimate Spider-Man #117). Flash makes a few bone-headed comments about not being Spider-Man much to Peter's dismay. The guidance counselor urges the class to think about recent events and talk about them as a group. Unfortunately, the class is not in the mood and wants the day off.

Peter then tells of his day after school let out. He works on the Daily Bugle's website. While working, he overhears an argument between J. Jonah Jameson and Betty Brant. JJJ refuses to let Brant follow up on the mysterious disappearance of Nick Fury (see Ultimate Power #9). Peter watches Betty storm off. However, his spider-sense begins to go off. Something is amiss in JJJ's direction.

Without warning, Omega Red confronts Jameson. It seems as though Jameson's editorials have embarrassed the albino mutant. Jameson's anti-Roxxon Corporation stance has made it easy for Omega Red to take his revenge and get back into the good graces of his corporate employer.

Spider-Man smashes through the office window to JJJ's rescue. Omega Red and Spidey fight in the office and into the hall. Spider-Man has his way with the enraged Omega Red. Jameson takes the opportunity to snap several photos of the battle. Jameson unwisely asks for Spider-Man to pay the bill after Omega Red is knocked out. Unfortunately, the animatronic baby is demolished in the heat of battle.

Peter recounts all this to his teacher and as evidence displays the front page of the Daily Bugle. The teacher offers Peter and Kitty a B minus for their bad luck. Peter is dismayed that the grade harms his GPA. Kitty jumps for joy. Mary Jane looks on at a distraught Peter.

General Comments

I generally liked this issue. There was no real earth shattering character developments or action. However, the way the story was told is what sold me. Bendis uses the oft-humorous baby that Peter and Kitty share as a lead in to a story about bad luck.

Bad luck has always been a trademark of Peter Parker. So Bendis chooses to frame the story in a past tense. Peter recounts the events in his own special way. It was nice to see Peter's full supporting cast being used, especially the frequently neglected characters over in the Daily Bugle. I also enjoyed Bendis tying up some loose threads from his last arc and to see the events of Ultimate Power once again addressed.

This issue felt like a modernized version of an Archie story with superheroes thrown into the mix. Peter and Mary Jane have a nice dynamic going on between them as well as Kitty and Peter. I feared that the Kitty appearances would be damaging to the direction of the title but she has carved out her own nice little niche in the book. I now welcome any appearance she makes.

There were a couple of things I did not like about this issue. Omega Red continues to over-used tradition of inserting X-Men villains into the USM title. I realize this is a shared universe but we already went through a three issue arc where Magneto and the X-Men assumed prominent roles.

I am also bewildered as to why Kong is being put on the backburner. This is a guy who knew Peter's secret identity long before anyone else. It would have been nice to see Bendis address this especially since Liz Allen's fate was mentioned.

Immonen's art is a bit more dynamic than his previous issue. There's not too much action but plenty of opportunities to provide artistic flourishes on the school and Daily Bugle scenes. For example, Immonen displays the famous squiggles of Peter's spider-sense. Another positive aspect is that he makes each character unique, even the relatively minor characters that populate USM's world. There's a staggering amount of subtle detail here that makes the story stronger.

Overall Rating

Bendis and Immonen are back on track. I am giving this a solid three and a half webs. Can Peter's bad day get any worse?