Sunday, April 14, 2013

Graphic Novels - Ultimate Spider-Man: Learning Curve

This installment of Graphic Novels is brought to you by the letter K.

Well, after much thinking and reading, I've decided to throw my hat in the BMB bandwagon and look at some Ultimate Spider-Man trades. Back in July, I thought I might do a look at this run and now seems like the right time to do it. About once or twice a month, I'll look at a volume and do my usual process with it. I don't know where I'll stop since I don't have every volume in the run. I might stop around the time Bagley leaves, or maybe where "The Thing That Got National Attention" happened... yeah, either sounds like a good stopping point. As mentioned before, the creative team for this book was Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley.

So, why this series? I have a few reasons. First, I'm doing this "because I can." Second, this blog needs some Marvel love too. Third, something deep within me wants to do this. Finally, it's Brian Michael Bendis aka "BENDIS!" Well, with all of that out of the way, let's get to this thing!

Issue 8
The issue starts out with the new Shocker trying to rob an armored truck. Luckily, Spider-Man makes quick work of the somewhat lame villain who still looks lame without that suit. What's funny is that the guards think Spidey is there to take the money as well, so they offer to hand the money over to them. Spider-Man, who's flabbergasted and considers his options, hightails it out of there without the money. At school, he overhears Kong and Flash talking about the Daily Bugle offering money for good pictures of the Wall-Crawler. Peter decides to go for it since he needs money and gets good pics of himself. He goes to the Daily Bugle and meets J. Jonah Jameson and Robbie Robertson. JJ looks at the pics and offers $50 for them, which leaves Peter peeved. Somehow, through a series of events involving the Bugle's web site, Peter ends up becoming the Bugle's web designer and makes IT nerds everywhere proud. We also get a hilarious phone conversation between JJ and Aunt May about the job.

Ha ha ha!

Later on, Peter has a pretty freaky nightmare about Uncle Ben's death. He awakens from it freaked, but Aunt May's able to calm him down. He's still thinking about the event the next day during school. Using some information he had gathered the night of the shooting, he does some research on the shooter. Peter finds out about New York's criminal empire and that the shooter used to be employed by Wilson Fisk, the so-called "Kingpin" of crime. Peter asks Robbie why no one has tried to take down Fisk. Robbie basically says that it's because he's too powerful. The issue ends as Peter plans to take on Fisk.

Issue 9
This issues starts out as we meet a group of baddies called the Enforcers. Ox, Fancy Dan, and Montana are just shooting the breeze and talking about things like McDonald's, their boss "Mr. Big," and the Kingpin. As they go into some warehouse, Spider-Man follows them in and a fight starts off. The Enforcers are tough, but Spidey is able to beat them down. When Spidey starts to ask for info on the Kingpin, Mr. Big himself comes out of the shadows. He tells Spider-Man about a charity ball Fisk is have that Friday night. Suddenly, a couple of FBI folk bust in to start arresting folk. Spider-Man flees from the warehouse with this new information.

At school, Kong continues to gush over the awesomeness of Spider-Man. Liz Allen yells out that she's had it with the constant Spider-Man talk. At another table, Mary Jane asks Peter if he wants to watch a movie Friday night. Peter, remembering the charity ball, asks to postpone it to Saturday and MJ agrees. Ah, young love... Anyway, we skip ahead to the Daily Bugle where Peter asks JJ why the paper constantly dogs on Spider-Man. JJ's response is pretty interesting.
J. Jonah Jameson: "a real douche" in any universe.

We skip ahead to the charity ball at Spider-Man sneaks in and tries to look around in Fisk's office. Unfortunately, he realizes that he's in over his head as he sees a security camera. His Spidey-Sense kicks in as well. The issue ends as Fisk comes up behind him ready to break something.

Issue 10
We start out with Kingpin ready to break Spider-Man in two. They fight, but Fisk is way overpowered here. He even breaks one of Spidey's webshooters. Some men come in to help out Fisk and one of them is none other than  the new Elektra... wait, I mean Electro. Fisk tells him to do his thing and then he and Spidey fight... or more like Spidey dodges and leaps a lot. Spidey eventually goes down and he gets unmasked... Well, here we go. Luckily they don't know who he his, so they keep the mask and throw him out of the window he came in.

Later, Peter (in his civilian clothes) walks home defeated and realizes he was way out of his league. He comes home and finds his Aunt May waiting for him. He and May have a pretty interesting conversation and it shows that Ben's death is still affecting them both. The next day (the Saturday), MJ calls Peter and asks him about the movie. Peter, who's still sore from his fight, tells her that he can't do it. She tries to see why, but he won't tell her, so she ends the phone call. Ouch.

At Fisk's tower, Fisk calls in Mr. Big and the Enforcers which sounds like an awesome big band group. He knows Big was the one who let Spidey know about the party, so he tells the Enforcers to hold Big down. Fisk puts Spider-Man's mask on Big and... proceeds to crush the man's head. Ew. Later, reports of his death hit the media and Spider-Man is the lead suspect. Peter is pretty annoyed by this. I know I would be. At school Monday morning, Peter tries to apologize to Mary Jane during class. While the teacher talks about the Nixon tapes and Watergate, Peter gets an idea on how to take down the Kingpin.

Issue 11
The issue starts out as Peter puts his plan into action. First, he needs to get information on the Kingpin's security tapes, so he creates a fake email account and sends a message to the company who's over the system. He's then asked to meet a counselor named Doctor Bradley who wants to talk about recent events. She asks a lot of personal questions and this makes Peter uneasy. He requests to leave and she lets him. After a quick conversation with Liz, he goes to see Mary Jane and... she's still mad. She's hiding it so well!

At home, he thinks about telling MJ the truth. Before any more thought can be put into that, he gets a reply from the company. The company sends him links about how they store their DVDs (Stores 12 hours of info??? I want one!). Now set with the knowledge on how the system works, he suits back up and heads towards Fisk's tower. As Fisk is shooting the breeze with his men, Spidey sneaks in and finds the storage room. Unfortunately, he causes an alarm to go off as he gets the DVDs. This alerts Fisk, so he sends  Electro and the Enforcers (... I guess that name works) to stop Spidey.

Issue 12
We start out with the baddies fighting Spider-Man. After some punches and blasts, the group think they have Spidey. Luckily, our Wall-Crawler is good at something: playing dead. He beats the Enforcers and goes one-on-one with Electro. They dance for a bit until Spidey finds some water to short Electro out.
Hmm... foreshadowing???

Spider-Man tries to leave, but now he face the final boss: the Kingpin. Instead of doing the dance of death with Kingpin, Spider-Man decides to take a subtle approach: fat jokes. Then, Fisk get really peeved, and the fighting begins.
Yo, Spidey, Eddie Murphy just called. He wants to sue!

It's actually not much of a fight since Kingpin lashes out like someone stole his sweet potato pie (That's right! I have some jokes too!). Spidey webs up the villain and takes off into the night. At home, Peter finds the evidence of Fisk killing Mr Big on disc. He also finds the disc of his unmasking and destroys it. At the Daily Bugle, he drops the evidence in Ben Urich's office and watches everyone finds out. He then calls MJ and tells her to meet him at his house. He has something important to tell her... Hmm. The issue storyline ends with Fisk out of country viewing the paper that incriminates him. His lawyer tells him to take some time off from the US.
Issue 13
Peter invites MJ over to his house to tell her everything... yeah. We're already 13 issues into this book and Peter tells her his secret. That's actually all that happens in issue. He tells her, but she doesn't believe him, so he decides to show off for her and do some flips. MJ is pretty ecstatic  doing stuff like jumping on the bed and making a lot of noise for Aunt May to be suspicious. He lays everything out to her. He tells her how he got his powers and about why he's been so secretive. She then tells him that she thought he brought her over here to kiss her and it gets all sweet and stuff as they almost kiss.

Aunt May: You know, they had a lot of names for "it" in my day. The Horizontal Penguin, the Vertical Sidewalk, The David Bowie,...

Unfortunately, May breaks it up for them. MJ's calls her home so she leaves. May then gets on Peter about "the birds and bees" to which Peter tries to change the subject. The issue ends all happy and stuff as May stops trying to talk about sex and Peter unofficially has a girlfriend.


And that ends this volume. Is it good? Yes, it is good... "Very Good!" There's really a lot to like about this volume. First, the story is pretty good. We have Peter learning how to do this superhero thing. He falters at first early in the story, but he's able to rein it in and actually think about what he's doing. Instead of having him fight a big supervillain, he fights someone who's pretty realistic in terms of occupation. He takes on the mob and wins the battle. We also see that he's still reeling with Ben's death.

We also get some good moments with him and his supporting cast. We get good stuff between he and May and especially between he and MJ. Now, I think it's interesting for her to know this early. I even find it cool that MJ doesn't find out via circumstance or through someone else. Peter flat out tells her. Plus, it makes sense that he would tell someone about it. 

Which reminds me... Peter also gets unmasked here as well. Luckily, it doesn't affect him in the long run, but it's the first case of him losing his mask or revealing his identity in this universe. I could probably make a drinking game on this alone, but since I don't drink, I'll have to find something else to do. So for this volume, we have Two! Two revealings/unmaskings! Ha ha ha ha!

Revealings/Unmaskings of Spider-Man: 2

 Total Revealings/Unmaskings of Spider-Man: 2

Well, That's all I have for today. Peace, God Bless, and don't lose your mask!


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