Comics : Ultimate Spider-Man #120

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This story is part of an Arc: "Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends"
     Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3

This review was first published on: 2008.

Background...

Last issue saw Magneto confront Liz Allen. Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends appear to have their hands full.

In Detail...

Ultimate Spider-Man #120
May 2008 : SM Title
Arc: Part 3 of "Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends"
Editor:  Ralph Macchio
Writer:  Brian Michael Bendis
Pencils:  Stuart Immonen
Inker:  Wade von Grawbadger
Cover Art:  Stuart Immonen
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Review

Magneto demands that Liz come with him. He wants her to find out where she came from and what future awaits her as a mutant. Naturally, Spider-Man and Iceman disagree and begin to battle Magneto. The Mutant Master of Magnetism is too strong for our young heroes and easily subdues them.

He continues to talk to a confused Liz about her heritage. Magneto knows the identity of Liz's real mutant father. Apparently, Liz's father works for Magneto's Brotherhood of Mutants. Spider-Man and Iceman interrupt the conversation and renew their battle with Magneto. The battle takes them to the Allen front lawn. Liz's mother confirms Magneto's claims. She vehemently accuses Magneto of keeping her father out of Liz's life.

Spider-Man and Iceman are joined by the X-Men. They demand that Magneto cease his recruitment of Liz. The young Liz Allen has a choice: either join Magneto and see her true father or join the X-Men and hone her mutant abilities at the Xavier Institute. Liz does not trust either side and quickly leaves the scene. She travels to Mary Jane's house where Spider-Man and Iceman quickly follows behind.

As a sign of trust, Spider-Man takes off his mask revealing his secret identity. An unmasked Peter tries to comfort Liz. He knows what she is going through. Peter comforts Liz that her new mutant powers do not make her evil. Liz is convinced that the Xavier Institute would be the best place for her. She can train herself in her powers and learn how to live as a mutant in a fearful world. Iceman is happy that Liz will join the X-Men. Liz says goodbye to Mary Jane and her "amazing friend" Peter. She jokes that his "with great power..." speech is lame.

An epilogue goes back into the past several years ago in the Savage Land. Magneto tells Fred Dukes, aka as the Blob that he can not bring his baby daughter and wife to their base of operations. Magneto claims they are not mutants and therefore will not be welcome in his new world order. However, if the baby displays mutant abilities down the line, he will intervene on Dukes's behalf.

In General...

I thought this arc started off decently but quickly became derailed. Bendis continued his penchant for including mutant cameo appearances by inserting the X-Men into the Liz Allen drama. Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends don't do many amazing things in this issue. There are a few half-hearted attempts at action but the issue gets bogged down in dialogue and extraneous descriptive elements.

Part of the problem is that Bendis frames the story as a morality drama. We are meant to believe that Liz is offered two viable choices. However, Magneto's side is clearly the wrong choice. Bendis does not flesh out Magneto's belief system as much as I wanted. Therefore, the X-Men come off as paragons of virtue. I do not believe this is what Bendis truly believes or that his readers believe.

A couple of other problems come up by the conclusion. Last issue saw Kong knew Peter's secret identity long before anyone else. Yet, there is no resolution to this interesting development. Instead, Bendis is more interested in the mutants. This felt more like an Ultimate X-Men issue as a result. The forced epilogue clearly shows this off to a great degree. I doubt that many readers of USM have little to no passing familiarity with Ultimate Blob. And really why should a reader of USM care if Liz is going to migrate to the UXM title?

Another problem is Peter's speech to Liz at the end. This speech would be fine for a 616 Peter Parker to make. However, coming from a still maturing 16 year old teenager seems wildly out of character.

As always, Stuart Immonen's pencils are solid but he has little to do other than depicting multiple dialogue heavy conversations.

Overall Rating...

"Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends" was a concept that sounded interesting at first but quickly became discombobulated. Here's hoping Bendis and Immonen can find their lost momentum.