Ultimate Spider-Man #49

Background

The Kingpin of Crime is back and making Spider-Man's life miserable.

With the help of his lawyers and a healthy heap of bribe money, Wilson Fisk got the murder charges against him dropped. This was no small task, as there was video evidence of Fisk killing one of his underlings, evidence that Spider-Man risked life and limb to get to the Daily Bugle.

But now the Bugle's playing a new tune, as they're endorsing Sam Bullit for District Attorney. Bullit is a known associate of Fisk and at Fisk's suggestion, is running on an "anti-Spider-Man" campaign. When Peter politely asks his boss and Bugle Publisher J. Jonah Jameson why they would endorse such a man, Jonah fires him on the spot.

Sam Bullit's true nature comes out in an interview with the Bugle's star reporter Ben Urich. When Urich starts asking the hard questions, Bullit threatens Urich. When Urich comes to Jonah with this information, Jonah reluctantly prints the story, retracting his endorsement.

Story 'Hero'

  Ultimate Spider-Man #49
Summary: Spidey Saves J.J.J. from the Enforcers
Editor: Ralph Macchio
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Pencils: Mark Bagley
Inker: Art Thibert
Cover Art: Mark Bagley

Jonah finds the Enforcers--gun-totin' Fancy Dan, whip-wieldin' Montana, and strong man Ox, waiting for him in the parking lot. They demand he retract Urich's anti-Bullit story and reindorse Bullit and threaten to rough him up but good.

In swings Spider-Man, ruing the fact that he has to kick the crap out of the Kingpin's cronies to save the man who constantly runs him down in his paper. The obligatory fight sequence ensues with bullets firing, whips cracking, and Ox swinging his arms at the webslinger. But Ox gets shot in the leg, and a bullet wings Spidey's shoulder, downing him and leaving him as prey for the Enforcers, who debate whether to kill him with Jameson watching.

But Jonah shifts into reporter mode, asking the enforcers questions (and revealing he's been doing homework on them) while recording events on his cell phone. This distraction allows Spider-Man to escape via a wedgie to Ox (a move Spidey laments, as he's been on the recieving end of enough of those). Spider-Man quickly takes care of the situation, webbing up the baddies, leaving Spidey and Jonah to talk.

With difficulty, Jonah manages to thank Spidey, but his distrust of the masked Spider-Man is clear. By the time security arrives, Spidey is gone and Fancy Dan decides to break the Enforcers up.

After changing back into street clothes back at the warehouse, Peter walks home, only to find Jonah waiting at the steps of his house. Jonah basically admits that he was wrong. He explains that his son, Astronaut John Jameson, was lost when his shuttle burned up in orbit and that the goverment made the details classified. This grief, Jonah concedes, clouds his judgement. But Jonah doesn't consider Spider-Man a hero the way his son was a a hero. Nevertheless, he vows to never let his issues with grief and Spider-Man affect his integrity as a reporter again.

Jonah rehires Peter and gives him an additional assignment--Peter is to tag along with Ben Urich from time to time, learn the ropes of journalism the way Jonah himself did at Peter's age. He also makes Peter swear that their conversation stay between them. Jonah then reveals that he'll publish a headline that Fisk can't walk away from.

The next day, Fisk's dinner is interrupted by Spider-Man, who's reading a copy of the Daily Bugle across the table from Fisk. The headline reads "Kingpin Cronies Blow Lid." The new status quo is established: Spider-Man can't bring Fisk down just yet, but one day he will. Fisk vows in turn that, as soon as he finds out who Spider-Man is behind that mask (Fisk already knows Spidey's a kid), Fisk will come after him and his family. After webbing Fisk's feet to the ground, Spidey leaps out of the window, swinging off into the night.

General Comments

The last three issues seem to be a mini-arc unto themselves, and yet they set up a new situation for both the Peter Parker and the Spider-Man side of things. Peter gets to follow Ben Urich around on assignments, which means we'll see more of Urich...and perhaps the rest of the Bugle staff, in the issues to come. As for Spider-Man, he now has a nemesis that's not tidily sent off to jail or carted off by S.H.I.E.L.D. at the end of the story. The Kingpin is still at large, and will loom in the background as a continuing threat. It's great for this kind of adversary to be around...someone who's not a mutant or mutation or otherwise under the jurisdiction of Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. Someone Peter's going to have to deal with on his own.

J. Jonah Jameson shines very prominently in this issue. The character is developed quite effectively in this issue, and his own struggle with grief echoes that of Aunt May. Rather than the skeevy tabloid publisher from past issues, we see the ace journalist and man of integrity he truly is, eventually giving Peter something rare--a fair shake. His rationale for not trusting Spider-Man fits into the Ultimate Universe, and thus the real world, very well. His--and perhaps our--notions of who the real heroes are will nonetheless serve as a source of conflict in the issues to come, making sure the character stays interesting.

The fight scene with the Enforcers is very well drawn, particularly the panel with multiple bullets flying out of Fancy Dan's guns. Ox's reaction at getting shot bothered me, though. Strong man or no, getting shot in the back of the leg and still standing strikes me as somewhat hard to believe. I always thought that the Enforcers were just a bunch of non-powered guys whose "teamwork" made them deadly. Of course, even in close quarters, where Spider-Man would seem to be at a disadvantage, he manages to take them out...just like last time.

Overall Rating

This is a really good issue, and a fine wrap up for this story. Well drawn and effectively written, only Ox's reaction to getting shot stops it from a higher rating. It was quite satisfying to see the someone as guarded as Jonah really lay himself out there and reveal himself for what he really is--a good man.

Plus, the ending is a bit unexpected (Somehow, I though the Kingpin would be in jail again), though it leads right into the big 5-0, which features the sultry Ultimate Black Cat.

Four webs: which means you need to go out and buy this issue! I'll catch y'all next month for the double-sized milestone issue.