Ultimate Spider-Man #4

 Posted: 2004
 Staff: Nathan Chattaway (E-Mail)


Issue four in Marvel's exciting new series featuring a young Peter Parker. Last issue Peter's showbiz career kicked off in the wrestling arenas and we saw the first version of the classic Spider-Man costume.

We also left the story last time with something going terribly wrong with Norman Osborn's OZ procedure...

I'm impressed with the cover layouts for the Ultimate Spider-Man series. The logo is impressive and clear, and the colored sidebars and large issue numbers make it easy to identify each specific issue. Not to mention the cover art itself. Spidey is very cartoonish, on a realistic painted background.

Story 'With Great Power'

The opening scene is the tragic aftermath of an explosion within the Osborn Industries Laboratories. There are dead lab assistants strewn all over the place. One of the victims is Otto Octavius, who is not dead judging by the "Uugghh.." he makes. We can clearly see that his mechanical arm control mechanism has been affected by the explosion, somehow fusing with his temples. We're looking at the new, improved Doctor Octopus!

Now we're ringside at the UCW Wrestling, and The Amazing Spider-Man has Crusher Hogan in the air, and performs the daddy of all Smackdowns! The crowd goes wild, they love Spidey! After the show, Spidey heads to the office to collect his pay, but the takings have been stolen! Since he's the only guy wearing a mask, the other wrestlers all jump to the conclusion that Spidey must be the thief. They chase him from the arena, signalling the end of Spider-Man's brief but glorious career as a professional wrestler.

On his way home after changing back to his street clothes, Peter stumbles across a petty thief making off with stolen cash from a deli he's robbed. There is a poignant moment as Peter appears to consider apprehending the thief, asking him : "Shall We Dance?", before simply letting the thief escape. The store owner dresses Peter down for not even trying to help, but Peter retorts that he has his own problems.

Back at the Parker household, Uncle Ben confronts Peter with a letter from school (Harrison Night School, what's with that? What happened to Midtown High?) showing Peter's english grade has slipped from a steady A to a D. Peter is defensive, and refuses to discuss why his grades have slipped. He runs from the house into the night, leaving Ben and May in distress.

Peter takes to the rooftops to take stock of all the sudden changes in his life. He decides to crash at King Kong Harlan's place for the night. Kong answes the door in his new t-shirt, featuring the Amazing Spider-Man!

Since Kong's parents are out of town, he naturally throws a party for the entire student body, right? Liz Allan is there, she's been drinking and she's hitting onto Peter. The old Parker bad luck fires up, and Mary Jane chooses just this moment to walk into the crowded room and spot Liz trying to kiss Peter! Hoo boy, just what Peter didn't need! Peter chases MJ to explain, but instead bumps into Uncle Ben.

They have an important discussion right there in Kong's front yard, regarding the requirement that with great power must come great responsibility. Remember this conversation readers, it's crucial!

There's a storm raging over the dark skyscrapers of downtown Manhattan, and a hideous beast moves throught a shadowed alleyway, searching for shelter or clothing. The beast is mumbling what sounds like "Must find Parker"! Uh Oh! Could this be Norman Osborn, post exploded OZ experiment? Is this the Green Goblin?

Peter is standing on a rooftop in Queens, looking out across the East River to the skyline of Manhattan while he ponders his situation. He decides to tell May and Ben what has happened to him, and heads home. As he approaches the Parker residence in Forest Hills, he realises that all the police cars and the ambulance are clustered around HIS house! Something awful has happened...

General Comments

It's quite economical use of laboratory explosions to have both Doctor Octopus and the Green Goblin created in the same one! After all, laboratory explosions are few and far between!

While I'm on the subject of the Green Goblin (who hasn't made an official appearance in Ultimate form yet), from the very brief cameo we had this issue it appears that this Green Goblin has been physically altered to the goblin appearance rather than using a costume and latex mask as has been the norm (pun intended). If this is the case, it fits in with some rumours that are surrounding the upcoming Spider-Man film. I've mentioned before that I don't agree with Marvel's comics following the movie adaptation of a well established character. Time will tell.

I referred to the scene where Peter appears to think about whether or not to stop the thief who robbed the deli. His comment "Shall we dance?" is Peter's cocky way of saying he could easily stop the criminal if he chose to. For those of you for whom Ultimate Spider-Man is your first taste of Spider-Man, I won't spoil things that are coming up in the next issue, but this was a crucial turning point in young Peter Parker's life, and handled in the best way possible by the creative team.

The romantic tension between MJ and Peter continues to build. The scene where MJ mistakenly assumes Peter has romantic feelings for Liz is a classic throwback to vintage Stan Lee times, where this sort of thing happened several times per issue! I love it.

Overall Rating

I've given this issue only 4 webs because I wasn't convinced by the explanation for ending Spidey's professional wrestling career. I'm sure with a bit of effort Spidey could have gotten to the bottom of who was really responsible for the theft of the box office takings, and kept his exciting career on the boil. I understand the career had to go, but I think it could have been handled more plausibly. Everything else was great, and the hints towards a very different Green Goblin at least have my interest held!

 Posted: 2004
 Staff: Nathan Chattaway (E-Mail)