"Ultimate Knights: Part 2"
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artists: Mark Bagley, Drew Hennessy, Justin Posnor (colors)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Well then, that didnít take long, did it? Just two issues in and already the "Ultimate Knights" are in danger of having the curtain dropped on them, and that too by someone close. Very close. Who is it? For that go read this monthís Ultimate Spider-Man as that is something that I wonít be spoiling here.
What I will be spoiling, if you can even call it that, is the teen-drama showdown that was prophesized after last monthís last page cliff ending. Kept secret in my review of the previous issue, Iíll mention it here, both for Ultimate Spidey and X-fans: having grown disgruntled with her life with the X-Men, Kitty Pryde, a.k.a. Shadowcat, has left the private school and as of last issue is now a student at Peterís school. Although an interesting enough of a development on its own, this twist becomes all the more loopy when we take into account (1) Peterís back with Mary Jane but without having broken up with Kitty in the first place, and (2) Kitty (arriving to check on Peterís well-being) already saw the two of them smooching. Like I said, teen-drama.
The first half of the issue involves (and in a way is aimed towards) teens. The whole new "semi-celebrity" student angle, everyone but the odd one or two fawning over her and the usual head-butting that goes on with school students, although acceptable enough by itself didnít quite strike a chord with me. While I could blame this to me having crossed my own teen-years ages back (i.e. I am too old a fart to identify with these youngsters), I donít think that is quite the whole truth. After all I have no such problem with the other Teen-Spidey title in my pull list, Mary Jane Loves Spider-Man. Even during the later scenes (especially during Kittyís dressing down of Peter) the words were correct but somehow the emotions werenít firing in the correct order. It just gave the feeling of being a tad forced and blown-up for blown-up sake.
The most interesting aspect of the first half of the issue? Mary Janeís shaking hand, especially the semi-clawed nails.
Onto the second half of issue, which kicks off with Peter in the hospital room waiting on his aunt. Soon enough, despite several self-admonitions and warnings, the Teen ĎCrawler is slinging his way to the designated meeting point (as per Daredevilís instructions from last issue). This is possibly the lightest page of the entire issue, but it too is over and forgotten soon enough as things get serious. Much more serious. At the meeting Peter finds Daredevil. Accompanying him are Moon Knight, Shang-Chi, Iron Fist and Dr. Strange. As veteran Ultimate Spidey fans will know, not one of these characters is what Peter would term as an ally, let alone a friend.
More than anything, what draws Peter to the meeting (apart from his own damnable curiosity) is Daredevilís words about wanting to take Wilson Fisk, the Kingpin, out of the picture permanently, put him down, do away with him, in short, kill him. Not a fan of this proposition, Peter wastes no time in informing the others about his thoughts and feelings on the subject, even going so far as coming to a standoff against DD. In the end, the six of them come up with a different plan to take down Fisk, one that although possibly more debilitating to the Kingpin wonít (possibly) be as bloody. However, what they donít know (well, five of them anyway) is that there is one amongst them who is not only betraying them but doing so to the very man they have banded against.
With just a few issues to go before Mark Bagley exits from this title, one canít help but feel nostalgic about his run. If there is something which didnít seem quite right to me it was the colors because of the over-abundance of black. Granted, the events of the issue occur at night, and the mood has to be secretive and (in the later panels) ominous, but that much black takes away more than what it adds to the overall ambience.
Conclusion: Quirkiest character of the issue? Jessica Jones. Her mixture of drunk-ditzy and overly enthusiastically-frisky just won me over.
You can find more reviews by Bruce Logan at www.xcave.net
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