Thursday, March 17, 2016

Trade Tales! - Ultimate Spider-Man Vol. 8: Cats and Kings

So… why did it take me almost a year to put this out? It’s simple, really. I misplaced the trade to this and couldn’t find it for a few months. I ended up finding it and that Sentry arc from New Avengers in my laptop bag… Sorry about that if you’re following my look at this series. I didn’t want to put it out without it in my hands, so I sat on this for a long while. It's funny since I was going to put this out when Daredevil Season 1 was released, but it looks like I get to put it out for Season 2.

Anyway, on to the look at this next volume of Ultimate Spider-Man! Cats and Kings has the usual Bendis/Bagely/Thibert team it has had since its beginning. It contains Ultimate Spider-Man #47-53. There isn’t much to say, so let’s see what trouble Peter can get into as the Kingpin returns!

Ultimate Spider-Man Vol. 8: Cats and Kings
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Pencils: Mark Bagely
Inks: Art Thibert
Colors: Transparency Digital and J.D. Smith
Letters: Chris Eliopoulos

Things were going so well for Peter. Unfortunately, life has to bite him in the butt again. After he faces off against the pretty lame Enforcers, he finds out that Wilson Fisk, the so-called “Kingpin”, is back in New York. Worst, his lawyer was able to get him off of the charges to the murder he committed back in the second volume. Then, we have Sam Bullit running for D.A. with promises to rid the city of Spider-Man.  J. Jonah Jameson loves the idea and throws the paper’s support at him. It all culminates in Peter being fired for questioning Jameson. Peter also gets suspended from school for getting into an argument with a teacher about the Fisk situation.
I love this scene.

Fortunately, Jameson’s wishes for Spider-Man’s demise get quashed. Through an interview, Ben Urich finds out that Bullit has ties to Wilson Fisk. If others find out about it, then the Daily Bugle will get ruined. Jameson reluctantly puts out a retraction on the support. This gets him into trouble as the lame Enforcers come to the Bugle to “persuade” him to change his mind. Luckily, Spider-Man was in the neighborhood and helps Jameson out with the Enforcers. Afterwards, Jameson heads to Peter’s house to apologize and give him his job back.
Funny... wait, would Pete even know who "Rerun" is? I guess I can let it slide. I didn't know who Rerun was at age 15, I think.

We then get introduced to the Black Cat as she breaks into Fisk’s office to steal an artifact. Spidey sees her escaping and chases after her. She escapes with Spidey getting a long gaze at that costume. Personally, I can’t blame him but I would wonder how she’s able to stay in that thing while doing acrobatics. Apparently, she was also impressed by the Wall-Crawler and sends him a message so they can meet one night. They meet but get interrupted by Elektra, an assassin who was hired by the Kingpin. It ends up being a free-for-all fight with Black Cat escaping.
Yes, I'd be looking too but it'd be for wondering how someone can jump around in that get-up. I might laugh too.

Then, Peter’s love life ends up going through a bit of a challenge. Mary Jane’s dad finds her diary and it had some of her thoughts from her incident back in volume 4. He forbids MJ to have any contact with Peter. Stuff hits the fan when MJ runs away from home. Even Peter’s shocked by it. Luckily, he realizes that she’s at their old hideout. He finds her and the two talk about how crappy her father is. Man, Gwen’s mom and MJ’s dad should probably hook up and be the worst people ever. They’re already bad parents. Anyway, Peter takes MJ home.

At work, Peter does some research on the Black Cat. He eventually finds out her true identity, Felicia Hardy. Unfortunately, he realizes that the villains will have figured this out too. He heads to Felicia’s house to find the Kingpin and Elektra attacking her. A fight ensues and it ends with Felicia getting a sai thrown at er after she throws the artifact into the sea. She falls off a roof, but disappears. In the end, it’s revealed that Fisk wanted that artifact because it was said that it had healing properties. He wanted to use it to heal his wife, Vanessa.

This was a nice trade but it isn’t one of my favorites. Everything still looks well done. Instead of this being a big 7-issue arc, we get two nice small arcs. The Kingpin’s return is pretty much the overarching thing of the trade and that’s cool. I really like the first arc in that it deals with stuff at the Daily Bugle especially with J. Jonah Jameson. We really haven’t seen much of Jameson and the Bugle staff in a while, so it was cool for them to get the spotlight. We get a really good moment between Jameson and Peter.

I also liked how Kingpin’s acquittal got under Peter’s skin. It makes sense it would bother him this way since he knows that Fisk is a bad man.  Aunt May was pretty awesome here as well. She gets to have a funny moment with Jameson and a pretty no-nonsense moment with MJ’s dad. I also liked the scenes with the lame but funny Enforcers. While the second arc wasn’t my favorite, I did like the whole situation Peter’s and MJ’s relationship. We really hadn’t gotten any idea about MJ’s family till now and that was pretty nice.

I have to say that I wasn’t a big fan of the second arc. I’m not a big fan of the Black Cat to begin with, so that part of the arc fell a bit flat for me. I also thought her break-in took too long to show. Heck, it took about 17 pages to show her breaking in and stealing the tablet. Seeing this version of Elektra was cool though. She was definitely better than that Garner chick! The only stuff that kept it afloat for me was the stuff between Peter and MJ. I did like how it ended by showing us a side of the Kingpin we haven’t seen before in this series.

The artwork was good as usual. I don’t really think there’s anything bad about it here. The action scenes are pretty good. I liked the fights with the Enforcers and I liked the battle between Spidey, Black Cat, and Elektra. I wasn’t a big fan of Black Cat’s outfit though. I get that she supposed to be sexy, but at least be practical with it! I did think it was cool and a little weird that they basically used Elektra’s costume from the movie. That did work out well in my opinion.

Unmaskings/ Revealings of Spider-Man: 0
That’s right, folks. Peter doesn’t lose his mask this time. He actually keeps the thing on for the whole trade. You’d think that this wouldn’t be an issue, but it’s happened more than it should. I also liked that Peter’s secret identity issues got brought up here with the list MJ gave him.

Total Unmaskings/Revealings of Spider-Man: 9

Finally, here are the highlights of the trade:
-The List – This is something that had to come up eventually. Peter literally can’t keep his mask on when it comes to folk. It’s pretty funny but it is something that seems a little out of hand. Having some heroes and couple of villains know his identity is okay, but it does go overboard in later issues.

-Jameson’s and Peter’s conversation – The conversation Pete and Jameson have at the end of the first arc was pretty good. It’s here where we see how this version of Jameson differs from the 616 Jameson.

-Spidey’s and Kingpin’s final conversation – I just like the quips Spidey throws back at Fisk. It’s hilarious.

-Catfight! – Two attractive women are fighting each other. There really isn’t much to do but stare and get some popcorn.


Overall, this was good but it’s not one of my favorites of the run. While some of it isn’t that great, the first arc of the trade and the characterization of everyone make this good. Well, as a man by the name of Shepard once said, “I have to go." Next time, things may be a little different as Peter will come face-to-face with some of the big guns in the Ultimate Universe. Until then, Peace, God Bless, and always remember to check your laptop bags for stuff. You may actually find what you’re looking for in there.

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