Ultimate Spider-Man #81

 Posted: 2005
 Staff: Adam Chapman (E-Mail)


Hammerhead is on the streets, and looking to muscle in on Kingpin's territory, as Kingpin is forced to keep a low profile thanks to federal investigations surrounding his position as Kingpin of Crime. A Gang War is erupting. Peter, after breaking up with Mary Jane, is becoming more and more frustrated with being Peter Parker, and a teenager in high school. Danny Rand, the Iron Fist, is released from Ryker's Prison.

Story Details

The issue opens with Peter Parker in school, frustrated as all the people around him go about their daily business and routines, trapped in adolescence. Peter switches into Spider-Man, and gets away from the drab realities of high school, to swing high above reality.

He arrives at the police station Captain DeWolfe works at, and freaks out one of the officers there, who shoots at him, and blows out a window. DeWolfe goes to the roof to see if Spider-Man is okay, and Peter tells her about his dinner with the Kingpin, and what the Kingpin told him about Hammerhead, and his moral quandry over what to do about it.

DeWolfe tells Spider-Man she can't tell him what to do, but that she thinks he should go after Hammerhead, because regardless of how he found out about it, it's still something that he should take care of, since he's a superhero. DeWolfe gets a call on her cell, about a disturbance in Chinatown, and Spider-Man heads on over, as he can get there faster than the police.

Seven minutes earlier, Danny Rand arrives in Chinatown, and sees Shang-Chi, working at a storefront. The two meet, bow, and greet each other warmly. They have a conversation about what's happened since Danny was put in jail a few months earlier, and Shang-Chi tells Danny about how big a mess the area has been since he's been gone.

Suddenly, Hammerhead shows up with a gang of Asians. Hammerhead shoots Shang-Chi, in the middle of the restaurant. Shang-Chi catches the bullets in his hand, and then throws Hammerhead out of the restaurant's window. Danny and Shang-Chi fight the gang inside the bar, using their martial arts moves. Hammerhead lines up a shot to take out Shang-Chi, and then Danny Rand, when suddenly Spider-Man swings down and punches Hammerhead in the head. Spider-Man reels in pain from striking the metal in Hammerhead's head, when Hammerhead grabs him by his mask, and puts a gun to Spider-Man's temple.

But just then, the Black Cat shows up, and threatens to hurt Hammerhead if he touches a hair on Spider-Man's head. All Peter can say is "Oh no..."

General Comments

This was a pretty good read, all in all. It moves at a great clip, but feels like it's got good back for your buck. There's some good characterization of Spider-Man, Danny Rand and Shang-Chi also get some good character work, heck even Captain DeWolfe and Hammerhead get some good character work. The characterization in this book is excellent, as is the action.

The action sequence between Danny Rand, Shang Chi and the gang members is well illustrated by Bagley, which perfectly compliments the fluidity of the martial arts moves the characters employ. The storyline has a lot of elements in it, which could potentially bog it down in the details, but somehow Bendis makes it all work. There's the feud between Kingpin and Hammerhead, there's Shang-Chi and Danny Rand protecting their neighbourhood from organized crime's intrusion, Moon Knight is still a mystery, now Black Cat is introduced back into the mix, Elektra is on the horizon, and Spider-Man is having a serious identity crisis as he questions why he bothers being Peter Parker since it just brings him down. All this works well together, to create an engaging and thrilling storyline, with little predictability.

Overall Rating

Great art, great story, everything clicks together quite well. Thumbs up all the way for Bendis, Bagley and crew.

 Posted: 2005
 Staff: Adam Chapman (E-Mail)