When the Chameleon was impersonating Spider-Man it was revealed to J. Jonah Jameson that Peter Parker was the real Spider-Man. Since he learned that fact and was subsequently saved by Peter he has been publishing nothing but good things about Spider-Man in the Daily Bugle and he has refrained from exposing Spider-Man’s secret identity to his readers.
At the food court in the mall Peter, with frog hat in hand is getting fired from his fast food job because he hasn’t shown up for work for the past two days and he hadn’t called in to let his boss know why he wasn’t there. Peter can’t tell him that he was saving the city with Iron Man now can he, so he just stands there and takes all the shouting, and being fired. As he walks away worrying about money he gets a phone call from J. Jonah Jameson telling him that they need to talk.
Now in his costume, Spider-Man swings over to the Daily Bugle and he worries the entire way there about what is going to happen. Now that Jonah knows that Peter Parker is really Spider-Man, the miraculous has happened and the Daily Bugle is not only no longer calling Spider-Man a menace but is cheering him on as the hero of the city. Peter is completely apprehensive about what Jonah has to talk to him about, but whatever it is it can’t be good.
Sitting in the offices of the Daily Bugle Peter remembers how great it was working there and, especially after getting fired from the fast food frog place, he really misses it. His reminiscing has to be put on hold because Jonah waves Peter into his office. An obviously nervous Peter sits down and Jonah starts talking about their shared experiences together and how if it weren’t for Spider-Man he would be dead (and he has the massive wound on his head to prove it).
Jonah then brings up that he was thinking about whether he should “out” Spider-Man in his newspaper and on his web site. It would bring in loads of new readers and tons of new business for the Daily Bugle. But after thinking hard about it there was just no way he could do that. And that not doing that wasn’t enough to repay Spider-Man.
Jonah then asks Peter to name whatever it is he wants. Peter mentions that he would love to have his job back because he wants to save for college. He tells Jonah that being Spider-Man is great and all but that it doesn’t really pay the bills. Jonah then does more than just give him his job back: he tells Peter that he’ll pay his college tuition.
Peter is taken aback by Jonah’s offer and he refuses telling him he wants to pay for his own education. All that he wants is his job back and maybe a little leniency if he doesn’t show up to work for some “unknown” reason. Jonah agrees but tells him he is still creating a scholarship for Peter in Peter’s name and that if Peter is still alive when it is time for him to go to college it’s his and he’s earned it.
Now Jonah starts showing his true colors. He now says he wants something. He wants Spider-Man’s exclusive story whatever it may be. If Spider-Man is doing something in the city Jonah wants to know about it. This obviously makes Peter nervous but he agrees anyway. It’s hard for him to turn down his perfect job that comes with a pay raise and unlimited get-out-of-jail free cards.
Later in the city three doofusses wearing roller blades are causing a little mayhem when a mysterious red hooded person shows up to stop them. No matter what they do everything they throw at him just goes right through. Spider-Man shows up and stops the three roller blade wearing punks and recognizes that the red figure is Kitty because of her powers. She starts to phase down through the street but Spider-Man, saying that they’re friends, gets her to stop.
After the fight Peter and Kitty are walking in Queens talking about what has been going on with each other. Apparently Kong (Kitty’s boyfriend) left her after they ran away together and he went running back to his mom and the two of them then took off for Wisconsin, so no more Kong in this title. Peter is relieved that Kitty is back and that she’s still using her powers for good and he even likes her new costumed look.
They enter Peter’s home, which is completely dark, to find a surprise party for Peter’s 16th birthday with all of his friends there. Aunt May thinks it’s pretty funny that Peter had no clue that it was his birthday at all In the back of the crowd Peter spots MJ and approaches her. She hands him a gift from Tony Stark, who Aunt May actually invited to the party. Inside Peter finds that Stark redesigned for him a new pair of web shooters.
Out of nowhere Peter blurts out that he loves her. He says that no matter what happens he wants to earn her back but she tells him there really isn’t any need to because she’s already right there with him. They then share a kiss and MJ says, “Happy Birthday, Tiger.”
For being a bad employee at his fast food job Peter gets fired but isn’t allowed to be too down about it for too long. Jonah calls him up and tells him they need to talk. Peter is not sure what he is walking into now that Jonah knows his secret identity but he goes anyway. But everything isn’t too horrible. Jonah gives Peter his job back and tells him he’ll pay for Peter’s college tuition. But in exchange Peter must give the Daily Bugle all Spidey related stories from here on out. Yes, Jonah is being pretty generous but if the Bugle has all the exclusive Spider-Man news in town, that’ll be really big for business.
Later Peter finds Kitty fighting some crime dressed up in a long, dark red robe. He does get her to stick around afterwards and they end up talking on their way to Peter’s house in Queens. Once they walk through the front door, Peter is surprised to find his surprise 16th birthday party. After getting a pair of redesigned web shooters from Tony Stark. Peter and MJ share a sweet moment in the back where Peter tells MJ that he loves her.
Just as a stand-alone story and not a small part of a 6 part series, this was great. We finally have the “confrontation” that we were waiting for between Jonah and Peter and even though we were all surprised by Jonah’s generosity; we were then given a Jonah that didn’t stray too far away from character. Plus now we get to see the new dynamic between Jonah and Peter now that Peter’s back working at the Daily Bugle and Jonah knowing his secret identity.
Kitty is finally back from running away, so between her and Gwen returning, we have a full cast of characters to read about. And it appears that Peter and MJ are back together (I guess Peter forgot about Gwen asking him not to immediately start dating MJ because he must have been seen snogging MJ at his birthday party.
There wasn’t that much Spider-Man in this issue but I’m fine with that. I always saw the Ultimate Spider-Man comic as more of a character study of everyone in the comic and less about the action. Don’t get me wrong, I like to see at least a little bit of Spider-Man in an issue of Spider-Man, but I also really appreciate the character development that is such a strong talent of Bendis’.
All in all a great issue and something that was needed after the long storyline that was just wrapped up in the last few issues. I did subtract a little from the rating because of the cover again that had absolutely nothing to do with the contents of the issue. It was almost like the covers were finished long before the story was finalized, or Marvel is trying to entice its readers with the upcoming “Death of Spider-Man” storyline that might just have all of Spider-Man’s villains appear in it and that’s why they keep appearing on the covers now. Whatever the case it is, it still doesn’t change the fact that the cover doesn’t match the story and that’s wrong.