Current Reviews


Ultimate Spider-Man #49

Posted: Wednesday, November 12, 2003
By: Jason Cornwell

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artists: Mark Bagley (p), Art Thibert (i)

Publisher: Marvel Comics

When J. Jonah Jameson gets a late-night visit from the Kingpin's thugs who demand he issue a retraction to the anti-Sam Bullit story the Daily Bugle just published, we see Spider-Man has to step in to protect Jonah. We then see Jonah pays a visit to Peter's house where he admits he was wrong to fire him and offers him his job back. The issue than ends with Spider-Man making a rather amusing visit to the Kingpin.

While Spider-Man and the Kingpin are featured on this month's cover, this is largely J. Jonah Jameson's issue, as it's his decision to run a story that acts against the interests of the Kingpin that drives this story, and we also get a bit of insight into a personal tragedy that has impacted Jonah that partially explains why he harbors such a strong resentment against masked heroes. Now there's no real moment where the character really shines, as the opening pages have him rendered speechless when he has a run-in with the Enforcers, and he gets a scene later in the issue with Peter where he has a little heart-to-heart conversation, that results in Peter getting his job back at the Daily Bugle. In fact this conversation is about the most uncharacteristic moment one could expect to see from Jameson, as he's positively nice and one is left to almost wonder where the real Jameson is, and where's the pod that this duplicate sprung out of. Still, it is nice to see an effort being made to make Jonah into more than a loud-mouthed blowhard who is sent ranting and raving anytime Spider-Man's name is mentioned. As for the material between Spider-Man and the Kingpin, I have to say that one of the funniest sequences that we've received thus far on this series would have to be Spider-Man's interruption when the Kingpin is busy delivering his menacing threat.

As for the art, Mark Bagley is given an issue that plays to his strengths as an artist as there's a nine page battle in the front half of this issue where Spider-Man is taking on multiple opponents, and the art does a fine job of capturing the sense of constant motion that is required by such a battle. There's also some solid little moments, like the look of terror that we see on Jameson's face when he discovers what is waiting for him in the parking garage, and the expression of the Kingpin in the final panel of the second to last page of this issue was absolutely priceless. I do have to wonder about the cover to this issue though as while Spider-Man's spider sense does a nice job of selling the idea of immediate danger, making the Kingpin look as stiff as a statue, and making no aggressive moves, seems like it's working against the idea of presenting a exciting visual for the cover.

Final Word:
J. Jonah Jameson gets the opportunity to show he has a little more journalistic integrity than he's been afforded in previous issues, as we see the character decides that the truth is more important than his personal safety. Now a fairly sizeable chunk of this issue is eaten up by Spider-Man's battle with the Enforcers who always make for a fun battle, as Spider-Man is afforded so many elements to make light of, and while it was a bit reminiscent of a similar scene from the Doctor Octopus battle, I must confess the scene involving Ox's underwear made me smile. The scene where Jameson confronts Spider-Man was a fairly unusual moment though as Jameson seemed positively subdued during the exchange, and this rather low-key approach carried over to his meeting with Peter, though the big revelation that is made during this conversation called for less bluster than normal. The exchange between Spider-Man and the Kingpin in the final pages made for a very amusing finish to the issue, while at the same time the Kingpin remains a viable threat.

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