Ultimate Spider-Man #29

Background

Peter Parker, Spider-Man, spent pretty much all of last issue trying to get to Manhattan, where the Ultimate Marvel version of the Rhino is on the rampage. But he gets sidetracked by all the Peter Parker aspects of his life: a parent-teacher conference with May and his Math teacher, finding Gwen in the dumpsters, upset about her mother leaving, and suffering the bullying of Flash and Kong.

Through all of this, Mary Jane is egging Peter on, excited to see him go off to battle, not addressing Peter's sudden unwillingness to share Spider-related information. Where's that distance we saw at the end of Issue 27?

Of course, by the time Peter manages to get to the scene, Iron Man has already defeated the Rhino. Oh well, at least he tried.

Story 'Stolen Identity'

So Ben Urich's having a talk with the Bank Teller about his troubles with his ATM Card. The teller recognizes him by name as the reporter that exposed Wilson Fisk as the Kingpin and lavishes praise on him accordingly.

But, suddenly, someone in a Spider-Man cosutme bursts in to rob the bank. This one's a mean fellow, as he brutalizes the bank manager and yells at the "broads" behind the glass to fill a bag up with money

Ben Urich sees all of this, and we later see J. Jonah Jameson elated about the prospect of having the "Spider-Man: Criminal" story be exclusive to his paper, as Urich was apparently the only reporter on the scene. Robbie AND Urich come to Spider-Man's defense, but to no avial. Urich notes differences between the costumed bank-robber and the man who stopped Doctor Octopus. But Jonah won't hear it. This is about when Peter shows up to work, shocked by this news. Jonah decides to use the pictures of Spider-Man Peter took from the Spider/Goblin fight at Midtown High on the front page.

Peter's taking the subway home, so spooked by this alleged imposter. The man CANNOT catch a break. He considers confiding in Mary. But she's still spooked from her involvement in the latest Spider/Goblin melee. Peter seems to regret telling her. This is about when Peter finds a police car in front of his house.

Peter rushes in, but his fear turns to bewilderment. You see, Gwen Stacy is sleeping on his couch. And her father, Police Captain George Stacy is at the kitchen table talking with May. With Mrs. Stacy out of the picture, George expresses his fears about being a single father...as well as having to date again. May confides that she's a terrible single person as well. Peter enters the kitchen, and May tells her nephew that Gwen will be staying in the Parker homestead while the good Captain is out of town.

Mary is not happy about this. At all. She thinks Gwen is trying to steal her man, and she doesn't like the prospect of her staying at Peter's house at all. When she asks, Peter assures her that Mary is the only person in on his secret.

Later on, Peter and Gwen are doing homework at the kitchen table after dinner. Mary was supposed to join them. The TV reports a hostage situation in town. Spider-Man, it is believed, "has officially joined the ranks of criminals." Peter covers by claiming he's running over to Mary's, but instead webslings over to the scene. The police instruct him to put his hands over his head, but Spider-Man tries to exonerate himself. "I am not robbing anything! I don't even have any pockets!!" he protests.

The police open fire anyway. Peter Parker, Spider-Man, takes a bullet in the right shoulder and falls to the sidewalk, with several armed police officers aiming at his fallen body.

General Comments

Another arc kicks off with a bang. Bit of intrigue, too. Before, we'd always know what villan Peter was facing off against. Ulitmate Goblin, Ultimate Kraven, Ultimate Kingpin, etc. But this time, we know nothing in advance about this guy except that he's dressing as Spider-Man. In other words, we don't know any more this time around than Peter does. Except, those of us who are familiar with the core titles cam speculate: Is it Mysterio? The Chameleon? Does it have anything to do with Venom, perhaps? Or maybe S.H.I.E.L.D. is orchestrating this hoax?

Good to see Jonah all over this, not so much because of a pathological hatred of Spider-Man as it is because it's a juicy, profitable headline. One Jonah has a Hitler mustache, implying hate. Ultimate Jonah's mustache is more smarmy and skeevy. He's still a jerk, but this jerk is motivated by profit, and will justify publishing the issue. But Ben Urich is a man of principle, and so is Robbie, albeit a man of principle relegated to the background of this conflict. Ultimately (not a pun), Ben Urich gives in.

Yay! More Gwen! Not only that, but they're developing the character of Captain Stacy...as a potential love interest for Aunt May? Beats Otto Octavius, I say! Another step away from the elderly, doting Aunt May to the pro-active middle-aged ex-hippie who's worth reading on her own merit. Also, it's nice to see complications in Spider-Man's career staggered with complications in Peter's home life.

And love life. The façade falls. The relationship is strained. Mary Jane was told the biggest secret Peter has. So why should Peter be keeping secrets now? Clearly, she's jealous of Gwen, but the panels tell us that there's many more problems with their relationship at the moment.

Peter gets shot. This is the first time I've seen this in a Spidey book, and it took me by surprise. The final image of a wounded young Spider-Man surrounded by shards of glass and armed cops (one with a shotgun) is a jarring one.

Overall Rating

Problems for Peter Parker and Spider-Man equally, not independent of each other, but one set complicating the other. A supporting cast that makes this book of the most readable in comics. And even a bit of mystery in the villan department. Well, I'm interested. Let's see where this is going.