I am just finishing up an unofficial holiday and boy does it feel good. Sometimes folks need some time to unwind, relax, and do much of nothing. Thanks to my day job, I find myself quite stressed at the end of the day, who doesn’t, and writing these reviews have been a great way to unwind while still keeping the ol’ noggin active. It’s also been a great way to study stories themselves, ones that work great and ones that fail miserably. At the end of the day, until I start making enough money writing these reviews (and boy would I love to but you have to balance realism with hope.) this is just a writing exercise for me. By writing and reading every day, I keep up good habits that one way or another will pay off.
Well, the holiday for me is over so back to the ol’ grindstone by talking about the next issue of Ultimate Spider-Man. This issue deals with Peter being impatient. He feels that if he can find out the main cause of crime in his city he’ll be able to put an end to it. Unrealistic to be sure but we are talking about a fifteen year old. Even at that age, kids are naive enough to think that every single damn one of them can change the world. That may sound cynical on my part and it is pretty blunt because while a housewife for example may not change the course of human history in her life, she can certain change the world for the better for her family. In this case though we’re talking about a fifteen year old kid who improbably is able to fight crime in one of the biggest cities in the world. Even if Peter is able to take down one crime head, there will be others that pop up to replace them. And while that will lead to future issues which is not a bad thing, it is a demonstration on Peter’s part on the outset that he doesn’t realize what he is getting himself into.
Peter wants to make it up to his Uncle Ben. He feels responsible for his death. I get that. I find it silly though for him to think he can do this on his own. Maybe it’s due to be being 39 but that naivete is just something I can’t relate to anymore. There are so few instances of one person making a difference on the level that Peter wants that it makes his goal here kind of hopeless.
We do get the start of Peter Parker working for the Daily Bugle. It’s set up similar to the original Spider-Man story in that there is a reward for a picture of Spider-Man that the paper offers. Where it veers off is when it brings modern technology into the mix.
It may seem silly to a modern audience that is used to everything being on the internet but there was a time where big companies didn’t know their ass from their elbows when it came to their online presence. In the story, Peter is low balled by J. Jonah Jameson on the pictures he brings of Spider-Man. Just as he is about to leave, Betty Brant yells about the Daily Bugle webpage not working as it should. Peter, with a couple key strokes, is able to get the page back up and running properly. JJJ hires him on the spot to run the Daily Bugle website.
As I said, to today’s audience that may seem unrealistic. While it would be unrealistic for a fifteen year old to show up at the offices of the New York Times and get a job the same day running their website today, there was a time where companies were more than willing to toss the keys to some unproven talent simply because they had no clue themselves on how to handle a new piece of technology. So Peter getting the job like he did this issue I can completely buy.
This was a pretty good issue. While it isn’t one that is filled with tons of iconic action, it is important because it sets the stage for Peter Parker’s future adventures. It also sets up J. Jonah Jameson a little differently. He’s still the same sour puss you find in the original comics mind you, it’s not an earth shattering difference. But they make this JJJ a little pragmatic when it comes to how he thinks of and deals with Spider-Man. The original comics gave JJJ a little twinge of jealousy with how Spider-Man saves the day. This JJJ wants to sell papers. So far I don’t get the impression that he has thoughts about Spider-Man other than what story he could tell that would sell the most issues. We’ll see if future issues change that.
The art work this issue was pretty pedestrian. When you have someone as good as Mark Bagly drawing your comic, his version of pedestrian is someone else’s masterpiece. What really stood out to me was about halfway in the issue when Peter is in school. The previous scene had him waking up in the middle of the night from a nightmare. The look on his face in school is steely determination. It’s reminiscent to when he first came across the guy who killed Uncle Ben. Before he realized who it was, he very well could have straight up murdered the guy. You see that in his face when he is at school, the anger and determination. While nothing much stood out this issue, scenes like that really bring you into the emotion of the story unlike other artists out there.