Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artists: Mark Bagley (p), Art Thibert (i)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
After Spider-Man happens across a shakedown attempt that was being pulled off by the Enforcers, we see the Kingpin is back in New York, just in time to see the murder case against him tossed out of court, due to the "questionable" quality of the evidence. Meanwhile Peter is busy dealing with another problem as seedy politician named Sam Bulleit is running a political campaign that is painting Spider-Man as an evil villain.
Maybe it's just me but the Kingpin comes across as rather whiny in this issue, as instead of a powerful crime boss, his main scene instead presents him as more of a big baby who is crying over a lost piece of candy. There are certain characters where the Clint Eastwood rule of only talking when you have some very important to say, works exceptionally well, and the Kingpin has been a long-standing member of this group. What makes it even more curious is that over in "Daredevil" Brian Michael Bendis has worked wonders with the Kingpin, as he managed to fully restore the sense of danger that the character had lost during the 1990s. However, either he's trying to set the Ultimate version of the character apart from his Marvel counterpart, or trying to impress upon the readers just how upset the Kingpin really was by Spider-Man actions, but in the end the scene with the Kingpin ranting and raving about the expenses he's entailed getting back to his former position of power, left me decidedly unimpressed. Still, the issue does have some truly funny moments, such as Ox's attempt to embellish Fancy Dan's threat, or the Kingpin's pointing out the rather glaring mistake the Enforcers made during shakedown attempt. There's also a fairly interesting little wrinkle in Peter's world on the final page, as he manages to incur the wrath of J. Jonah Jameson.
As for the art, Mark Bagley continues to deliver a high quality product month in and month out, and one would think that entering our fourth year on his run on this book, he would've long since lost the ability to surprise me with his work, but I find myself continually impressed by the inspired angles that he employs to detail Spider-Man's moments through the city, and during a heated battle. I mean the opening fight with the Enforcers is a very high energy affair, where the bullets and whips are flying every which way. I also enjoy the attention to the little details, like the fact that Mary Jane looks like most people do on the weekend, as her outfit looks like it was the first item within her reach, and it looks rather doubtful she spent much time in front of the mirror fixing her hair. I do have the ask what's the deal with the splatter dots all over Peter's shirt in the final pages though?
There's some very solid little moments in this issue, as the opening fight with the Enforcers is a lot of fun, as is the little exchange between Peter and Mary Jane where the two discuss the idea that there is roughly two dozen people who know Peter Parker is Spider-Man. In fact it's rather fun to see Brian Michael Bendis acknowledge that he's been a little trigger happy when it comes to revealing Peter secret identity, as I think more people in the Ultimate Universe know his secret identity than his Marvel counterpart, and he had 30+ more years to let his secret slip. However, where this issue lost some points in my eyes is with it's presentation of the Kingpin, as he simply doesn't come across as an imposing crime boss. I mean if there's anything that kills the menace factor it's making them out to be so easily thrown off their game. Now hopefully this was done to show readers that the Kingpin is properly motivated, and when we next see him he'll be far more cool and collected, as at the moment the character is not one I'm all that ready to embrace as the new improved version of the Kingpin.
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