Ultimate Spider-Man #41

Background

Peter Parker is a superhero without a costume. His efforts to acquire a new one, while hilarious, have been fruitless, so far. What's more, the criminal element doesn't respond to red and blue sweatpants the way they respond to red and white tights.

Gwen Stacy, seeking a change of pace from being a miserable loner orphan, insists that she and Peter crash a party. At the party, however, Peter finds his ex-girlfriend Mary Jane Watson, accompanied by her friend Liz Allen, dressed in a stunning leather number. Peter and Gwen are more than ready to leave when an explosion rocks the house. Everyone rushes outside to discover that a youth named Geldoff, at the behest of his peers, is blowing up cars in front of the house...by merely looking at them.

Story 'The Letter'

The cops raid the party, sending dozens of teenagers running off into the night. At the back fence, the fleeing orphans Peter and Gwen find a fallen Mary Jane and a struggling Liz. Peter helps MJ up and over the fence. Thinking Peter is struggling, Gwen encourages him to climb the wall, which results in a priceless look from Peter which seems aimed at the reader as much as Gwen.

The four of them end up at a bus stop, where two girls explain that Geldoff, who goes to their school, is an exchange student, and possibly a mutant. Liz is startled, and she explains that her late uncle was a mutant. MJ, Liz, and Gwen all contemplate how much trouble they'll get into if they're caught, particularly Gwen, since she, as a late police captain's daughter, doesn't want the pity of her father's onetime colleagues. Gwen also reveals that she blames Spider-Man for Captain Stacy's death.

The bus finally arrives, and MJ invites Peter to sit next to her. MJ wonders why Peter isn't web-slinging home, and Peter explains his lack of costume. The two have a laugh over it, and MJ explains that Liz talked her into her revealing outfit. MJ hands Peter a letter and makes him promise not to open it until he gets home.

Once at home, Peter opens the letter. In it, MJ confesses that she loves Peter and has since long before he got his powers. Written the night Peter stopped by her house after he was nearly consumed by Venom, she is finally convinced that Peter loves her. Apologizing for the way she broke up, she says she needs Peter in her life and invites him over.

Peter leaps out of the basement and into MJ's room, where she awaits. They finally get back together, their relationship sealed with a kiss.

The next morning, Peter finds the words "Geldoff Rules" spray painted across his row of lockers. Torn between going over to Geldoff's school to investigate and spending time with MJ/performing maintenance on the Peter Parker side of his life, his mind turns to how happy he is that he and MJ are back together.

MJ shows up, with a spider-shaped hairpin, declaring how happy she is. Flash Thompson shows up, again asking for a moment of Peter's time. This time, both MJ and Peter tell Flash off, insisting he grow up out of all of these pranks. He walks off, when Liz and Kong show up. Liz gets a call from her cousin, the one who told her about last night's party, saying that her classmate Geldoff is now blowing up cars at their own school.

MJ makes Peter's choice for him and insists he go check the situation out. Ever the prepared girlfriend, she gives Peter half a costume, something she was working on when she and Peter were going out. Baggy and ill fitting, Spider-Man takes off: "Oy! You can just tell when it's not going to go well." -Peter

General Comments

After five months and eight issues of angst, Peter and MJ are back together. Nice twist. To be honest, I wasn't expecting it so soon. The letter is beautiful in it's own teenage girl way and comes across as something Ultimate MJ would write.

The issue as a whole, when measured up on its own, seems more episodic than issues in past arcs. While individual issues of Ultimate Spider-Man read like 32 pages of a graphic novel, so far the "Geldoff" arc seems to have single issues revolving around minor plot points. Last issue dealt specifically with Peter's lack of costume. This one deals more clearly with Peter and MJ.

A little more insight into Liz and Gwen, lest we forget that they hate mutants and Spider-Man, respectively. The Wolverine reference seems to be setting up the coming crossover. And what is it that Flash needs to talk to Peter about so badly?

Oh, and, following in a development from last issue, Peter sounds older and much more like his mainstream counterpart, albeit written by Bendis.

Bagley remains masterful, particularly the 2-page splash of the kiss.

Overall Rating

Peter and MJ are back together. That in and of itself is easily worth 5 webs. It's issues like these that get me excited about reviewing this particular title and about reading comics in general. I mean, 2 issues ago, I gave this title my lowest rating thus far. It's amazing how fast things can turn around.

If you don't already have this issue, buy it now. As in right now. As in why aren't you buying it now?