Peter Parker has gotten back together with Mary Jane Watson, much to the consternation of his ex-girlfriend Kitty Pryde (recently a member of the disassembled Ultimate X-Men). Peter's loved ones are once again put at risk when Norman Osborn (aka the Green Goblin) broke out of the Triskelion. Osborn's first move was to charge Nick Fury with illegal incarceration and to blame him for his estrangement from his son, Harry. Carol Danvers, acting head of S.H.I.E.L.D. makes a move to arrest Osborn at his former residence. However, she found a determined Spider-Man battling Electro instead. Spider- Man had also been looking for the villainous Osborn. The battle ended with Electro soundly defeated and Spider-Man being taken into custody.
Our issue begins with Kitty studying for a trigonometry class with Kenny "Kong." Conversation centers on Kitty's experience as an X-Man. Kenny reassures Kitty that everyone at Midtown High will eventually get over her being a mutant. A television report on Spider-Man's arrest by S.H.I.E.L.D. interrupts the candid talk between the two. Kitty races off to help Peter much to the disappointment of Kenny.
Peter sits in his cell waiting for someone to tell him why he is in custody. Carol Danvers shows up and informs the angry teenager that Nick Fury is on a top-secret mission and she is in charge while he's away. The pair obviously distrusts each other.
Osborn watches the same television broadcast in an undisclosed Manhattan condo. He can't believe that S.H.I.E.L.D. would put their resources into arresting Spider-Man and not him. Additionally, Osborn is pleased that Electro will no longer interfere with his plans. Norman's lawyer shows up and incredulously asks why Osborn believes he won't be put in prison. Osborn's plan is to apparently publicly ridicule Nick Fury into an early retirement. Next, Osborn retorts that he needs his money. Unfortunately, Norman's lawyer refuses outright and is murdered.
Back at the Triskelion Carol continues her talk with Peter while playing with one of his web-shooters. She asks him point-blank about Norman Osborn. Peter claims that the man is certifiably crazy. Peter was at Osborn's former residence to search for the man. All he wanted to do was to help S.H.I.E.L.D. capture Osborn. Danvers contacts Agent Woo who is investigating a crime scene. They have found a corpse belonging to Osborn's lawyer.
Kitty Pryde attacks before Carol can relay the information to Peter. She easily dispatches the guards and takes Peter off the Triskelion. Carol catches up to them with an entire S.H.I.E.L.D. contingent none too pleased. Kitty's blunt anger is belied by Danvers's rational arguments. The acting head of S.H.I.E.L.D. wanted Peter in custody to lure Osborn out into the open. An agent informs Danvers that Osborn has been reported seen in Trump Tower. Everyone swings into action ready to begin an assault and Kitty and Peter are humorously drafted into S.H.I.E.L.D. for the duration of the mission.
Meanwhile, Osborn is threatening another of his former associates for money. Before he can harm the man, Spider-Man swings into the room and begins pummeling on the transformed Osborn. Kitty gets the bystanders to safety. S.H.I.E.L.D. agents converge on the building while Spider-Man enrages the Green Goblin. Spidey has the upper hand in the battle until the Green Goblin manages to grab his leg. He violently throws Spider-Man out the window. S.H.I.E.L.D. cover fire and a blast from Kitty's gun manages to throw Osborn out the window as well. Spider-Man and the Green Goblin are in a freefall...
Brian Michael Bendis's first full arc with new artist Stuart Immonen is proceeding along nicely. Readers should be pleased with the nice, even pace that Bendis has given the story. Immonen continues to find his own artistic voice as we increasingly become separated from Mark Bagley's run on the title. His Spider-Man is less gangly but still youthful. This depiction goes a long way to establish the fact that we see Peter maturing, something quite rare to pull off artistically.
Bendis finally gets around to addressing the book's supporting cast. We get a rare appearance of the Midtown brethren in the form of Kenny. The way the initial scene is set up between him and Kitty makes the reader believe they have an understated rapport, something that could be fully developed down the line.
The other major supporting cast of this book is comprised of Kitty and Carol Danvers. Immonen's re-design of Kitty's costume was probably needed. However, his decision to cloak Kitty in a mask seems rather odd. The costume evokes blind superheroes like Daredevil. Yet, Kitty's powers are wholly apart from that dynamic. It's not a bad choice by any means but certainly an odd one. Bendis's characterization of Kitty remains solid. You can tell she is still hurt by Peter's decision to break up with her but still wants to help her friend. Sometimes, too much teenage angst can drag down a title like this and it is nice to see Kitty not being written into that characterization black hole.
Elsewhere, Bendis manages to make Danvers's character a striking mirror of the 616 version with subtle differences. This Danvers is not super-powered (yet) and is brasher in the decision-making process. Her confidence is not a mask for insecurities. Danvers is a tough and unyielding leader. In short, Bendis was brave enough to not have yet another Nick Fury appearance and manages to succeed. Fury's non-presence is not missed thanks to Danvers. Fans of the 616 Marvel U should also note that there is a cameo appearance of one Agent Jimmy Woo. I would have liked some sort of quick montage to establish what Mary Jane and Aunt May were doing.
One would expect a story arc entitled "Death of a Goblin" to be bleak in outlook and appearance. The arc is four issues in and remains surprisingly fun. The scene where Kitty and Peter are drafted into S.H.I.E.L.D. is probably the best example of this oft-neglected aspect in modern comic book storytelling. Peter describes his newly acquired "neuro-neutralizer" as a "noonooliner" to Kitty. Having fun in a superhero comic book need not take away from the drama of the arc. Rather, inserting humor and adventure into the formula makes the book more well-rounded and accessible. Peter is a teenager in the Ultimate U and he is not always going to be melodramatic and dour in outlook.
Having said all that, the Green Goblin remains the evil maniac he has always been. Readers should be quite interested in how this arc plays out considering its provocative title. We are obviously going to get a fight in the next issue. The question remains in how Bendis and Immonen will execute the battle. Immonen has already established that he's quite comfortable in drawing battle scenes.
However, one of Bendis's weaknesses, in my opinion, has been plotting said battles. A case in point was the brief skirmish in this issue. Bendis writes Spider-Man well in his battle repartee but the sequencing of panels is a bit jarring and not easy to follow. For instance, Spider-Man is brutally pounding on the Green Goblin in one panel and in the next he gets his leg grabbed and promptly gets thrown out the window. Where did that shift occur? Are we meant to believe that Spider-Man just sort of allowed the Green Goblin to grab his leg? I think not but the panels never offer a clear flow of the battle. Clearly, Immonen will have to carry the day and I'm not sure if he's ready for that kind of pressure.
Part 4 of the "Death of a Goblin" arc proves that Bendis has an actual story to tell. The pacing (and tone) of the narrative, supporting cast, and Immonen's depiction of Spider-man were the highlights of this issue. Readers should be less impressed with the sequential elements of the Green Goblin / Spider-Man battle. Kitty's new costume was also pretty bizarre.
Kitty Pryde and Spider-Man officially broke up in Ultimate Spider-Man #105
Kitty Pryde left the X-Men in Ultimate X-Men #79.