Part 2 of the Learning Curve story and what a big curve it is. Peter comes into his life as Spider-Man with a great deal of naivety. He truly believes that if he were to find the one person responsible for the crime in New York, he’d be able to put a stop to crime. That figure he discovers is Kingpin, Wilson Fisk. As Spider-Man soon discovers, if his plan were truly good and had any chance of succeeding, the Kingpin would not be in a position of power that he is in.
The learning curve we see doesn’t have to do with Peter’s strength. It’s already established that he has physical strength second to none. No, the strength he has to work on has to do with what is happening in his lil ol’ noggin. He’s a fifteen year old kid. My oldest is fourteen and I could never imagine him having the mental capacity to take on a major crime figure all by himself and he’s smart as hell. I don’t think Peter Parker is dumb at all just like my oldest but a teenage boy compared to a middle aged multi-millionaire criminal mastermind are two different levels of intelligence.
For as smart as Peter Parker is, he is one dumb son of a bitch for thinking he could make such a difference by fighting crime. Obviously he ends up working it out but at this stage in the game he is in way over his head. I’m reminded of Deadpool Kills The Marvel Universe where Deadpool fights Spidey and at the end of the fight, when Peter thinks he’s won, Deadpool pulls a gun and blasts him right in the face. While that comic in particular was not set in the Marvel Universe we know and love, you have to think that Peter, despite his strength, is still very much susceptible to bullets. Anyone who’s read a Spider-Man comic through the years have seen more than one issue that shows the effects of whatever fight Peter has found himself in.
Look, this is the father in me coming out as I write this. If I were younger and single, I could see myself rooting Peter on and frankly trying to find whatever link I could to emulate him. As a father, I am shocked, appalled, and scared out of my wits. That doesn’t mean I’m not enjoying what I am reading mind you, far from it. Brian Bendis does a great job to show that, like the title of this particular story line, there is in fact a learning curve to the job of super hero. Yet each page that I read just makes me more anxious. How a punk kid like Peter could think he could accomplish taking down the Kingpin just really boggles the mind. Yeah, he’s doing it for all the right reasons but showing up in Kingpin’s office when he is having a major party trying to find something to bring him down is just plain dumb.
The other part of the story I really enjoyed was the start of the Peter and MJ romance. You get the impression in the story to date that Peter and MJ have been friends for a long time. Being young kids with raging hormones, that is bound to lead to something else and the scene where Mary Jane asks Peter to the movies, you can’t help but smile. The back and forth between the two is quite realistic and goes a long way to make you feel close to the two. It’s scenes like these that make you appreciate what the Ultimate Marvel Universe has been able to accomplish. They’re not pulling a Tim Burton type of reboot here, where they keep the names of the characters and dump everything else to tell a new story. (Fuck him for Planet of the Apes.) Bendis and crew are very much telling the same stories that that Stan, Jack, Steve, and others have told throughout the years. The Ultimate Universe is not reinventing the wheel. It’s expanding the story where comics from the 1960’s could not as well as updating the story for modern audiences. Like the last issue, what got Peter a job at the Daily Bugle in the 60’s would not get him in the building today. Little things like that have to be updated for the story to make sense and Bendis and crew do so amazingly.
Read this story for the cover and the last panel alone. The art work showing Kingpin’s hands reaching for Spider-Man out of the shadows is worth the price of admission alone. That, along with the story of Peter learning some valuable lessons along the way are making each issue so much better than the last. And there’s a little bit of action half way through the story with Liz Allan bursting into tears after Kong talks about Spider-Man too much. I won’t bring up why now because it is dealt with in later issues but that is something to take note of. You’re not dealing with a young lady who cries at the drop of a hat. Something bigger is happening.
I think your enjoyment of this issue will depend upon your age too. Again, if I were younger I may have ignored some of the stupid naive decisions Peter makes in his effort to fight crime. Being a father of a young man near Peter’s age, I just shake my head at the stupidity. Peter is fighting a noble cause here but if my kid decided to be Spider-Man, he wouldn’t have to worry about Kingpin finding him.