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The Return of the Kingpin; The Pouncing of a Sexy Cat Burglar!
Written: Jun 30, 2011 (Updated Feb 18, 2012)
a Very Helpful Review
by the Epinions community
Pros:Very fun and well-written, Kingpin's a good jerk, great art
Cons:A few wishy-washy teenage moments (but what can you do?)
The Bottom Line: Dug the storyline and all the characters--another really fun read from Bendis and Bagley for Spider-Man fans!
You really have to hand it to writer Brian Michael Bendis for continuing his epic run on Ultimate Spider-Man with more finesse and good treatment of the characters than any other writer the history of the ole web head. The story line in this book, Volume Eight of the series titled Cats & Kings (which collects issues 47-53 of the series), is another outstanding read by Bendis as he keeps bringing up new plot threads, but delivering the goods with older ones.
The story this time around is that the Kingpin has returned! More than that: he's been acquitted of murder, which Spider-Man put forth evidence for! If that wasn't enough, a new candidate running for public office wants to eradicate Spider-Man once and for all and J. Jonah Jameson (Peter Parker's boss) is supporting him fully.
Things get heated up when this said candidate has ties with the Kingpin and Jameson actually fires Peter--and gets into some trouble with the mob. Be aware that Jameson's character develops a ton in this book, which I really appreciated as it made him more of an understandable character than the fire-headed caricature he's sometimes chronicled as.
The second part of the book has to do with the introduction of the Black Cat (basically the Catwoman of the Marvel universe) who's stolen something of tremendous value from the Kingpin. In his defense, Kingpin hires (you'll never guess) ELEKTRA to avenge him and get back the stolen object. Spider-Man is in the middle of all this as well as a torrid sort of flirtation with this sleek cat-like female.
If that wasn't enough, Mary Jane Watson's dad has discovered her diary, which thankfully doesn't reveal Peter Parker's secret identity, but does make him heated enough to force them to stop seeing each other. Teenage drama ensues and plays out in this really lame sort of fashion that's pretty melodramatic and the "M" word is thrown out a ton, which was sort of weird.
Overall, this book has a ton of great stuff in it--especially in the humor department. I laughed a handful of times at how genius Bendis utilizes pop-culture references and sly poking humor in all of his stories. One of the best moments is where these guys working for Kingpin are roughing up someone and one breaks out in a song from Beauty and the Beast thinking that that was the most appropriate action. Granted, I can't explain things as well as it is in the written text, but take my word for it: for all of the action and goodness there are equal parts comedy for your enjoyment.
Mark Bagley is a wizard with a pencil and puts forth some very crafty images to go along with Bendis' text. There were a few missteps along the way this book where there were some awkward panels I had trouble deciphering at some points, but for the most part he does an incredible job. I particularly liked an issue that had very minimal dialogue as Bagley followed the Black Cat in her robbery--where we were keyed into clues, and moved closely with her throughout the whole ordeal. He totally helps tell the story without saying anything--and matches Bendis' style perfectly.
Aside from a few of those melodramatic teenage moments that didn't jive too well with me, there's nothing about this book I didn't really care for. And it's not like those sappy moments ruin anything--I just noticed how forced and lame they were this time around. Overall, the quality of the writing is still there, Kingpin is proving himself to be a worthy adversary for our hero (all of their run-ins are classic, too, what with Spider-Man's hilarious jabs at him), and the future of Mary Jane and Peter's relationship is spicing up. This is one to look forward to, folks.
© Jason Haskins, 2011
Ultimate Spider-Man Vol. 1: Power & Responsibility
Ultimate Spider-Man Vol. 2: Learning Curve
Ultimate Spider-Man Vol. 3: Double Trouble
Ultimate Spider-Man Vol. 4: Legacy
Ultimate Spider-Man Vol. 5: Public Scrutiny
Ultimate Spider-Man Vol. 6: Venom
Ultimate Spider-Man Vol. 7: Irresponsible
Spider-Man 2 (2004)
Spider-Man 3 (2007)
Spider-Man: The Movie Game (GC)
*This is part of Elvisdo's 2011 Funny Pages Write-Off! Learn more here!*
(A big thanks to Stefanie [dramastef] for adding this for me!)
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