Comics : Ultimate Spider-Man #153

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This review was first published on: Jun 2011.

Background...

The Black Cat, after a couple weeks of failed attempts, has finally gotten a hold of the Zodiac Key. The key once belonged to the now deceased Kingpin of crime but was most recently in the possession of Mysterio, who wants to be the new Kingpin.

The Ultimates along with Carol Danvers believe that Spider-Man is in need of some looking after, and she sends Iron Man as Spider-Man’s first super hero instructor.

In Detail...

Ultimate Spider-Man #153
Apr 2011 : SM Title
Editor:  Mark Paniccia
Writer:  Brian Michael Bendis
Pencils:  Stuart Immonen
Inker:  Wade von Grawbadger
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Review

Years ago in Cairo, Egypt the Kingpin pulls up to a ramshackle village with his bodyguards. He is there for an exchange with an extremely weary man who does not trust the Kingpin one little bit. They make the exchange, enough money to the man to make him king of all Cairo, for the Zodiac Key. He then tells the Kingpin that it “honors the request of its holder.” The Kingpin closes his eyes and causes everything around him, his bodyguards, the entire village, to disintegrate. He bends down to pick up the Zodiac Key that he dropped after seeing the destruction he caused and says, with a tear in his eye, that no one can ever have this key.

Spider-Man meets up with Iron Man on the roof of the Stark International Headquarters at night for his first super hero lesson, only it doesn’t go very well. Iron Man hasn’t really given his lesson plan any thought whatsoever and the best that he can come up with is to ask Spider-Man to hit him as hard as he can. Spidey realizes that this is an insanely stupid idea because he would probably just end up breaking his hand on Iron Man’s armor.

Iron Man reveals to Spidey that there was a vote on what to do with him and the only reason Iron Man has agreed to train him is because Carol Danvers, Tony Stark’s girlfriend, has asked him to do it. Spider-Man, in a very funny moment, starts giving Iron Man dating advice about what a bad idea dating someone you work with is. Spider-Man then starts asking questions about this vote and Iron Man tells him that he thought Spider-Man was fine the way he was but that Captain America, on the other hand, wanted to throw him in jail.

The Black Cat has just returned to her apartment, a very nice, very expensive apartment. It appears that this I directly after she has stolen the Zodiac Key because she places it down on the table still wrapped up in some linen. As she starts to relax who should show up but Mysterio, who now knows everything about her. How it was the Kingpin who killed her father, which is why she wanted the tool Wilson Fisk used to become the Kingpin in the first place. Mysterio also apologizes for taking the killing of the Kingpin away from her. She probably wanted to do that herself. He finally gets to the reason why he is there – he wants to buy the Zodiac Key from her. Asking her what she wants, she coyly says that she wants him gone and with a flash, he vanishes.

Apparently he hasn’t gone far because he’s back pretty quickly (that or he has the ability to teleport, which just might be the case looking at his actions for the past few issues – how he seems to be able to just appear out of no where) lecturing her that she can’t just use the Zodiac Key cavalierly like that. She could have killed him as well as herself. Mysterio then explains to her that it was a gift by, and get this, aliens to the ancient pharaohs, who the aliens believed were the rulers of the planet at that time. He then again asks her to name her price, that he will us the key to “rearrange” things for the better. Felicia asks him why can’t she just do that herself and Mysterio replies that there is a price to use such an object: a price that would be too high for her to pay.

Continuing their lesson Iron Man decides to show Spider-Man his workshop that is filled with various Iron Man armor suits. Spidey asks if he can have one seeing as how Iron Man has so many of them. Iron man says he can if he has $700 million. Spider-Man then starts worrying that the other super heroes think he sucks but Iron Man tells him they don’t think he sucks but that he is a spaz. This doesn’t really lift his spirits. Iron Man then starts talking about how Spidey needs to live up to his responsibilities. I know, right. Spider-Man is the poster child for responsibility but Iron Man doesn’t know that.

Just then Jarvis comes in over the loud speaker telling them that there is an unidentifiable energy signature present in Soho. Watching it on some king of hologram display, Spider-Man and Iron Man are discussing what they should do when all of a sudden there is a monumental energy surge. This lesson is about to get more exciting.

Standing in the center of a city block in rubble Felicia holds the Zodiac Key. With destruction and death all around her Mysterio demands that she hand over the key before she kills them all. With a tear soaked face she does just as Iron Man and Spider-Man show up telling her not to give it to him. Mysterio says “too late” just as a beam of light shoots straight up from where they are all standing.

In General...

In a flashback we see Wilson Fisk acquiring the Zodiac Key in Cairo and, using it for the first time, destroys a village and everyone in it. Afterwards he sheds a single tear over what he has done. This, obviously, doesn’t fit with the character at all. The Kingpin of crime has killed loads of times so why would he have any feelings for these random people? He just got in his hands an ultimate weapon. This should have caused the kingpin to be ecstatic not remorseful.

After finally successfully stealing the Zodiac Key from Mysterio he approaches the Black Cat in her apartment trying to buy it back from her. She uses it to make him vanish but he immediately returns lecturing her about how she could have inadvertently killed him.

While this is going on Spider-Man is having his first super hero lesson with Iron Man, who has no idea what he is suppose to be teaching him. The only reason Iron Man is doing this at all is because his girl friend, Carol Danvers, has asked him to. While Spidey proceeds to give him crap for dating someone he works with, an enormous energy surge happens in Soho. Arriving there Spider-Man and Iron Man are just in time to see the Black Cat hand over the Zodiac Key to Mysterio after she has accidentally destroyed a neighborhood with it. Mysterio, Zodiac Key in hand, then causes a second explosion.

One thing I don’t get is that both Spider-Man and Iron Man have never seen the Zodiac Key let alone know that it even exists. When they arrive in the middle of this destroyed neighborhood how did they know that handing over whatever it is that the Black Cat is holding would be a bad thing. It is sort of a jump in logic that they would immediately know what was going on.

Overall Rating...

Besides the uncharacteristic display of a crying Kingpin and the jump in story logic at the end, this was a pretty action packed issue. We learn the origin of the Zodiac Key - aliens gave it to the pharaohs (lame) and we get to see the amount of damage it can cause just with a mere thought of whomever should be holding it.

We also finally get Spider-Man’s super hero training off the ground. His lesson started off pretty poorly but it most definitely picked up when they went to investigate what was happening in Soho and then they both got caught in another blast from the Zodiac Key. Iron Man and Spider-Man’s interactions were pretty hilarious even though I don’t buy that Tony Stark, a true genius in his own right, couldn’t come up with anything better for his first super hero lesson than “hit me as hard as you can.” Yes, I got the Fight Club reference but still. Tony is way too smart to be that dumb.

The cliffhanger at the end was what this story line really needed to get everything moving along. I’m actually looking forward to what Mysterio is going to do now that he’s in possession of the Zodiac Key and he seems to now know how to use it.

Also rating points off for a cover that has absolutely nothing to do with the issue’s insides. Why is the Beetle, the Rhino, Scorpion, Silver Sable, the Vulture, Shocker and what appears to be the Lizard on the cover? None of them are even remotely connected to the story let alone actually appear in the comic itself. Even the variant cover doesn’t make too much sense. There we have Iron Man and Spider-Man together with what appears to be someone shooting at them both which doesn’t really happen in the book.