You will never forget your first time with that special someone. That someone who ends up taking over all aspects of your life, that someone whose every movement you memorize. The yin to your yang. This issue brings us the introduction of Spider-Man to his special one. No, not Mary Jane Watson or Gwen Stacy. This is the first major battle Peter has with The Green Goblin.
While the previous issue saw Peter Parker spring into action as Spider-Man for the first time, this is the first time we really get a chance to see him test his skills out under pretty stressful situations. This is like Luke Skywalker in Episode 4 when he’s in the X-Wing fighter battling against the Death Star and Obi-Wan Kenobi through the power of the force guides him to do the right thing and blow up the evil fortress of the Empire. He takes the first step from ordinary joe to hero and frankly he does pretty darn good.
I appreciated Peter’s inner dialogue during his fight with Goblin. While he was his usual smart mouth self with the villain, his internal reactions to what was happening at any particular time felt quite realistic under the circumstances. When Goblin drops him high in the air and Peter, in an effort to save himself, uses his web shooters to build a trampoline, he’s hoping to all that is holy that his plan will work because one wrong move and he’s a street pancake.
One thing I didn’t care for was how the webbing was used in this issue. Yeah, I know. What a thing to complain about. For something that is supposed to be quite sticky and can hold the weight of multiple men at once at least during an hour period before it dissolves, when Peter creates the webbing to save himself he bounces off like it’s nothing. Similar to Doctor Who and the Sonic Screwdriver, I’ve begun to notice that the webbing has no consistent use apart from what the writer, Brian Bendis, has for whatever is going on at the moment. Again, this is not that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things but not staying consistent in a story can throw some people off. Doing it once or twice is forgivable especially in the heat of action. The more you do it however, the more your audience will begin to notice that you as the writer had to pull something out of your ass to get our of a corner you put yourself in.
My other complaint about this issue has to do with Harry Osborn. We dive a little further into his whiny story here. But hey, you may be saying, he saw his mother brutally murdered by a big green guy and now that same creature is attacking his schools. How would you react?
For one I wouldn’t head back to school in what seems like the day after my Mother was brutally murdered. Two, I would be doing what I could to tell the appropriate authorities what the hell happened and to search for a big bad green bastard who must have shown up on security footage in the home of a Fortune 500 CEO who runs a military armament company. If this were some kid of a local grocer who stole some money and beat his wife, that’d be one thing. I could take the level of hysteria Harry has in this issue. For everything he’d gone through, I just don’t buy it. I admit, this opinion is purely subjective. This is not a comment on the writing at all, more of the writing not really hitting me where Mr. Bendis intended it to.
One thing I really enjoyed was the last page. Comic book movies, up until Marvel had the good sense to start making their own, had a bad habit of killing off the one person who got people into the theater to see get their asses kicked. The bad guy. Similar to pro wrestling, without an effective bad guy, it doesn’t matter how great the hero of the story is, you can’t take him or the story seriously. He’ll either defeat the weak bad guy so fast that you feel stupid for actually watching the movie or you sit there questioning yourself as to why you sat through the exploits of the world’s dumbest hero for having to deal with such an ignorant villain. It also ruins the fun when, after watching a great movie you see the hero take out the villain for good. You think about all the wasted opportunities that the two characters could have had in future films. The original Batman from 1989 was ludicrously stupid for killing off The Joker. Imagine the Joker breaking out of Arkham and making Michael Keaton’s Batman go through hell to defeat him again? That would have been much better than the putrid garbage we got in Batman Returns. (Michelle Pheiffer in a leather outfit was a pretty good consolation prize.)
Comic books however don’t have to worry about future films in a franchise. While I would have loved to see Jack Nicholson play the Joker over and over again, when he had a contract that ended up netting him over $50 Million Dollars for one movie, it’s hard not to see why producers went with another villain. Nicholson was far too expensive to bring back. In comics, the only thing keeping a villain out of a story is low ink in an artist’s well or lack of story ideas from a writer. When The Green Goblin fell into the river, the authorities presumed he was dead. Bubbles coming from the water indicated otherwise which more than teases a future return which I am already excited about.
I was harsh with this issue at least on the surface but don’t take that for dislike of the story. This is an important story in the Ultimate Spider-Man universe. This is Peter Parker’s first major fight in public against a villain and the seeds are already in place for his legend to grow and prosper. While there is admittedly not much going on this issue, you’d be a damn fool to miss it.
What can I say about the art work? Fight scenes are really hard to draw. Sometimes there is a lot going on, so much in fact that the artist ends up having a tough time telling the story in a way that will be totally clear to the reader. The artist in question here, Mark Bagly, does a wonderful job in visually telling the story, which can get pretty complicated at times, in a way that allows us as the readers to fully understand what is happening. This is another issue you can’t miss.